Updated on Friday, March 18, 2011 at 7:32 AM by Logan Molen
Updated on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 11:02 PM by Logan Molen
This 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.
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.