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History of Marchbanks Speedway/Hanford Motor Speedway

RELATED STORIES: Read more about Marchbanks Speedway and Hanford Motor Speedway in my Marchbanks section, including the regularly updated "History of Marchbanks Speedway, aka Hanford Motor Speedway."



Video from 1961 NASCAR race

I just ran across this cool video showing "Fireball" Roberts at the 1961 NASCAR Grand National race at Marchbanks. 

The only detail shared by YouTube poster Richard Trivette, Roberts' son-in-law, is that the video is 8 millimeter film with no sound. It shows Glenn 'Fireball' Roberts in the Fresno Pontiac during practice, and later being interviewed by famed broadcaster Chris Economaki. 

The quality isn't great but there are some terrific views from within the infield showing cars shooting down the front stretch and along the second stretch. Then there's the awful shape of the infield. 

But this was a nice find, since it's the first images I've seen from that NASCAR race, the third of three Grand National races held at Marchbanks. 

Here's what I wrote about that 1961 race in my main track history:

On March 12, 1961, the legendary Fireball Roberts dominated the track’s final Grand National race in a 1961 Pontiac, leading all 178 laps and winning by more than two laps in averaging 95 mph on his way to a $2,000 prize. Bob Ross averaged 98 mph in grabbing the pole. Ron Hornaday Sr. was among four drivers earning $0 from a total purse estimated at $9,000 to $11,475. Total attendance was not available. The Hanford race was one of four NASCAR races in California that year (Riverside, Los Angeles and Sacramento joined the schedule). 


Table of contents 

I've posted several dozen different "chapters" on the history of Marchbanks Speedway, aka Marchbanks Stadium and Hanford Motor Speedway, so have decided to put together a Table of Contents to help readers find topics of interest, particularly the interviews with racers who knew the track first-hand, including legends like Andretti, Unser and Kenyon.

These are listed in the order I originally posted them (some, particularly the main history, have been updated multiple times). 

  1. History of Marchbanks Speedway, aka Hanford Motor Speedway
  2. 1967 Champ Car race program
  3. More photos from the 1967 Champ Car race
  4. 1970 stock plan tried to keep Hanford Motor Speedway alive
  5. March 1968 Champ Car race program
  6. Second death at Marchbanks/Hanford speedway
  7. November 1968 Champ Car race program
  8. April 1969 Champ Car race program
  9. Additions to Marchbanks Speedway history
  10. "The Fabulous Mr. Marchbanks"
  11. Cool photos of the Marchbanks road course
  12. Reader: Hanford 250 "the best auto race I have ever seen"
  13. My interview with Gary Marchbanks
  14. My interview with Tommy Trader
  15. Details of 1957 death at Marchbanks
  16. Updates to Marchbanks history
  17. Readers share recollections of racing at Marchbanks, Hanford
  18. My chat with racing legend Mel Kenyon
  19. My chat with Bobby Unser
  20. My interview with George Benson
  21. My interview with Mario Andretti
  22. Hanford through the lens of a teenager
  23. More great photos from 1968-69 Champ Car races
  24. Fresh updates to Marchbanks Speedway/Hanford Motor Speedway history 
  25. 1967 George Snider feature story
  26. Marchbanks inducted into West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame
  27. Video of 1968 Champ Car race at Hanford
  28. Map of Marchbanks road course, circa 1960
  29. Sept. 1960 Road Race Program
  30. Interviewed by "Valley Edition"
  31. Poster from 1964 USAC stock car race
  32. Video from 1961 NASCAR race

Poster from 1964 USAC stock car race

Reader Grace Nunes kindly passed along a photo of a cool poster promoting the 1964 USAC stock car race won by A.J. Foyt. Nunes said her father purchased the poster in an antique store. Nunes is a hard-core racing fan herself and continues to watch open-wheel races in Central California. 

As for the race in question, I pulled this detail from my Marchbanks history

"The 200-mile season-ending race on Nov. 29, 1964, was called the Billy Vukovich Memorial and drew 6,500 fans and was televised on ABC's "Wide World of Sports." A.J. Foyt took victory, averaging 108 mph in a race full of spins. 

"Joining Foyt in the 25-car field were legendary racers Ron Hornaday Sr., Parnelli Jones,  Joe Leonard, Bobby Unser, Lloyd Ruby, Marvin Porter and Jud Larson (According to Ultimate Racing History, "Marvin Porter replaced Bobby Marshman, who was critically injured in a tire test in his Indy car at Phoenix the day before the race. Marshman died on December 4th in San Antonio, Texas.")"

Thanks, Grace, for letting me share this. As a reminder, this whole Marchbanks history is a collaborative project so if anyone else has photos, stories, maps, etc., feel free to share them with me.  


Interviewed by "Valley Edition"

"Valley Edition" on KVPR/Valley Public Radio interviewed me about the Marchbanks history for a show broadcast this week. 

You can listen to the show here; my segment starts at 42:30. 

One correction to something I said on the show: The track location was southeast of Hanford and Highway 43; not sure why I said southwest, given all the poring of maps I did early on in my research.

Thanks to host Joe Moore for showing interest in the track and for helping further our cause to make this history bigger and better. 

As always, feel free to email me or comment on the main history story to share your own stories or information.