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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."


Entries in Hanford Speedway (2)


Program from 1964 CRA 'Big Car' race

I found a 16-page program (PDF download here) from the Sept. 5, 1964, California Racing Association "Big Car" race at Hanford Speedway on eBay and while most of the program is light on good stuff, it does contain one gem: an article that finally sheds light on the first events and races at the track. 

The "History of the Track" article said Marchbanks Stadium, as it was then called, opened with rodeo events in February 1950 and quarter-horse racing on a half-mile track with a quarter-mile straightaway. The first auto races followed "on about May 10, 1951," when jalopies hit the track. 

From 1950 to the September 1964 race, events at the track included "hardtops vs. jalopies, stock car racing, sprint cars, midgets, and event boat racing on a small lake built in the center of the stadium. At one time bull fights could be enjoyed here." 

According to the article, 20,000 people jammed the track on July 4, 1961, to watch the Blue Angels perform overhead as part of an air show at the nearby Lemoore Naval Air Station.

The article said the track was renamed Hanford Speedway "a few weeks ago," in conjunction with the new ownership group involving Kal Simon, Tommy Francis and others. It also mentioned a 1955 NASCAR Magazine article on Marchbanks Stadium, so that's something I'll try to trace down. 

As for the September 1964 CRA race, Hal Minyard picked up his ninth win of the season in a long 100-lap event that drew at least 44 entries. Hanford hosted a second 100-mile CRA Big Car race a month later, on Oct. 11. Minyard won that race too. 


History of Marchbanks Speedway, aka Hanford Motor Speedway

Updated on Friday, March 18, 2011 at 7:32 AM by Registered CommenterLogan Molen

Updated on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 11:02 PM by Registered CommenterLogan Molen

Updated on Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 8:40 PM by Registered CommenterLogan Molen

Start of the March 1968 Champ Car race at Hanford Motor SpeedwayThis is an evolving history of Marchbanks Speedway, a racetrack just south of Hanford, Calif., that went by several names and layouts over its two-decade life.

Marchbanks, aka Hanford Motor Speedway, remains little known today but was the first superspeedway west of the Mississippi, and hosted big-name NASCAR and Indy Car races in the 1950s-60s. These days, the track ceases to exist physically and its history lives online only in scattered references on racing forums and enthusiast sites.

My goal with this post is to try to build a history of Marchbanks and give it the legacy it deserves. In light of recent efforts to build a $400 million track in nearby Tulare County, I think it's important for people to know the area already has a rich history in hosting some of the greatest racers of all time. It's amazing to me that a track that brought national attention to the small town of Hanford, in the heart of Central California, has been left out of local history books and mentioned sparingly in racing publications.

Bill Vukovich II drove four races at Hanford for car owner J.C. "Aggy" Agajanian, who doubled as Hanford's promoter. This shot was in the 1967 Hanford Champ Car race program.Billl Vukovich II told me, "Why would anyone want to write a history about Hanford (Motor Speedway)?" Vukovich was not a fan of the track despite two Top 10 finishes in Champ Car races there in the late 1960s, and had nothing good to say about the speedway (maybe it was the fact they misspelled his name in the 1969 race program). "That place was in the middle of nowhere." Indeed it was, but for any number of reasons, a lot of people have good memories of the place.

My quest to look into the Marchbanks story began with a 2009 blog post and I’ve since dug deeper by visiting Hanford, interviewing people who were closely involved with the track, purchasing photos and videos, and poring over more than 50 web sites (complete list of sources and links are at the bottom of this post). Of particular value were personal recollections from hardcore fans on Track Forum who spent time at the track during its heyday. There's much more to uncover, and I’ll add other information, including more personal interviews, as I can. But this is a start.

I’d love for this track history to be collaborative. Please share any knowledge, tips, corrections or other information, either by commenting below or by contacting me directly. And while I constantly update this general history of the track, I regularly post interviews and more detailed updates in my Marchbanks section.

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