Wall Township Speedway Sits in Limbo by Mike Twist and Jason Buckley
Will Track Open In 2008? That Remains To Be Seen
Update (1-15-08) - This past weekend, nearly 50 Wall Speedway Sunday Series competitors took part in their 2007 banquet. It was there where they were told the the track's management intends to reopen the speedway for the 2008 racing season just as planned.
"You know how the rumor mill's been going," said WTS Operations Manager Jim Morton before the full banquet hall. "I talked with Tim this morning. He said it's his intention as of this day to open the speedway."
The track hopes to have more news to announce at this upcoming weekend's Motorsports 2008 Trade Show in Atlantic City.
Wall Township Speedway has been a mainstay of New Jersey racing for decades. The speedway by the shore has been the racing home to many families of the sport – including the Blewetts and the Truexes. It has hosted the Turkey Derby every Thanksgiving weekend. It has held NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, RoC Modified and very nearly a NASCAR Busch North (now Camping World East) Series event [that particular race was postponed by rain twice and eventually cancelled completely in 2004].
Was the 2007 running of the Turkey Derby the last one? We hope not. (Jim DuPont Photo)
But as suburbia grows outward, the 54 acres that the track sits on have become more and more valuable. Rumors that the land where the speedway sits will become a housing development, shopping center or office park have circulated for years. Since New Year’s Day, those rumors have been getting louder and louder. The fact that the track’s telephones have been temporarily disconnected added more fuel to the fire.
So what is the status of Wall Township Speedway? At this point, it can probably just be classified as in limbo.
The track has not been shut down. At least not yet. Track principals have either indicated that decisions have yet to be made or that racing is likely to continue there in 2008. However, no official schedule has been released yet either.
Track webmaster Mike Clayton has told us that more information should be coming
out in the next week or so. Jim Morton, Wall’s Operations Manager told the Asbury Park Press that he and the office staff have been “laid off with the promise of being rehired at the start of the season”. Morton indicated that a more concrete decision might be made on January 18th.
"As it stands right now, everybody is in limbo,'' Morton told the newspaper.
The managing partner of the facility, Tim Shinn, was slightly more optimistic in the same story. Shinn told the Asbury Park Press on Thursday, "We are shut down for the winter months, and our intention is to re-open (in the) spring of this year.”
Shinn also told the newspaper that the steps being taken in the front office, such as keeping the office closed and disconnecting the phone lines, are typical for the off-season.
In 2007, Wall hosted one NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race, the first event of three held under a controversial “flash” format that reduced the race distance and purse for the event. This year, the track did not schedule the NASCAR Tour to return to the facility.
The RoC Modified Tour visited Wall twice in 2007 as well and was thought to be returning there for two dates in 2008. No official RoC schedule has been released yet.
In 2005, the track was also the center of much speculation when a plan was announced to place nearly 200 townhouses on the site and bulldoze the racetrack. The area is zoned non-residential and after a battle with the town fathers, that proposal was withdrawn.
New Jersey has already lost two racetracks in recent years to development. Flemington Speedway closed down in 2002 and the land that once contained East Windsor Speedway, a dirt track, is now being developed into The Hamptons at East Windsor – an upscale residential community.
In addition to Wall, there are currently three dragstrips and two dirt ovals (New Egypt and Bridgeport Speedways) operating in the state of New Jersey.