Nazareth Speedway was an auto racing facility located in Northampton County, PA. about 50 miles north of Philadelphia. It was actually a pair of adjacent racetracks – the smaller half mile track was built in 1920, and a larger 1 1/8″ mile track built in 1966. Ownership of both tracks was mixed, and there were very few years when both tracks operated concurrently.
1910: Auto racing begins at the Northampton County Fairgrounds 1 mile
dirt track, a few miles from the town of Nazareth. (Nazareth is
within Northampton County)
1920: A half-mile dirt track is built in Nazareth PA, intended for horse
1921: Auto racing shifts from the County Fairgrounds to the Nazareth
Throughout the next 60+ years, the 1/2 mile dirt track will host a
variety of Stock, Modified, Midgets, and Sprint races… including
night racing under lights.
1959: The Andretti bros. enter their first ever race, at Nazareth
Speedway. Aldo drives… and wins! Over time, both Mario and Aldo
would have numerous wins at the track.
1966: Owner Jerry Fried builds a larger 1.125 mile dirt track on an
adjacent property called “Nazareth National”. For the time Nazareth Speedway is essentially a 2
oval facility with both the 1/2 mile and 1 mile tracks.
1969: Nazareth National hosts the last points-paying National
Championship race (with the Dirt Champ Cars) held at night under lights.
Mario wins… and his daughter is born later that evening!
1971: Nazareth National is shut down, but the 1/2 mile track
continues regular operation.
1981-84: Nazareth National re-opens for a few years under promoter Lindy Vicari to host occasional
USAC Silver Crown (formerly the Dirt Champ cars) and local Modifed races. He reconfigures T2 and shortens the backstretch due to zoning restrictions, changing the overal length to just under 1 mile. The venture eventually goes bankrupt.
1986: Roger Penske buys the 1 mile track from the bank and paves it. Portable grandstands from Cleveland are used for the first few years.
1987: The restored track hosts it’s first CART race. Mike Andretti wins.
1988: The last year of racing at the 1/2 mile dirt track. (which
eventually is torn-down and built-over) From now on, the Nazareth Speedway facility
has just the 1 mile* paved oval. (* .94 mile)
1997: New aluminum grandstands are built. Attendance for CART race peaks at ~45,000.
1999: Silver Crown cars return for the first time in 15 years. Jason Leffler wins
2000: Early April CART race snowed out! Make-up race held on Memorial Weekend the day before Indy… and Team Penske
gets it’s 100th Champ-Indy win.
2001: Last CART race at Nazareth.
2002: First IRL race at Nazareth including all three major USAC divisions: Midgets, Sprints, & Silver Crown cars.
2004: After continued declining attendance, ISC announces plans to shut down Nazareth Speedway. The IRL holds it’s last race at Nazareth in August 2004.
2005: ISC sells Nazareth Speedway to developers.
Photos – scanned from Nazareth souvenir programs, most by Bob Snyder.
Modifieds on the Nazareth National backstretch in the 60′s.
An aternate view in color.
Mario in 1969 in a USAC National Championship Dirt car.
…and in the pits.
Nazareth National T2 as it looked after the first shutdown in ’71.
The track originally went out much closer to RTE 248 and part of
that wall still stands outside the current wall along Georgetown Rd..
The T3 bridge as it looked in the 70′s.
After reopening in the early 80′s, Nazareth hosted the USAC dirt cars again,
now called the Silver Crown series. (1982 pictured)
1983 Silver Crown race
The main straight as it appeared in the 80′s.
The grandstands as they appeared in the 80′s.
T1 under modification during paving in ’86 – ’87.
Note 1/2 mile Speedway grandstands in upper right.
Nazareth Speedway as it looked in 1990.
Attendance for CART peaked in ’97.
A sattelite photo taken in 2000.