I really enjoyed our visit to the 2014 Circle M Ranch Reunion. I'm told that the track ran for a total of 4 years and that the last actual racing event was held in 1958. The track looks to be about 1/3 mile and has a very fine dirt surface. The background hills and trees make for a beautiful place to be out, watching and listening to the racecars run. A 5 minute shower slowed things down a little, but the big crowd and the good car count didn't seem to mind. Speaking of good crowd, I know the food vendors ran out of burgers and hotdogs, so that's usually a good sign of a great turnout!
Thank you to Ken Johnson for the invite. It's a really cool place...
A Little Background on How the Circle M Ranch Reunion Came About
From Ken Johnson
The track was built in the 50's by Eddie Mates. Eddie Mates Jr. helped his father as a teenager at the track. During the week, Eddie Jr. would travel around to all the gas stations and collect used oil. The oil would be used to coat the track to keep the dust down.
Bonnie Fessler was in high School at the time and was the Girlfriend of Eddie Jr. She worked in the concession stand. Bonnie married Eddie Mates Jr. Five years ago we had a car show and Eddie Jr gave, the one and only car of Dave Dissinger that showed up, permission to take a few laps around the track. About 30 people were on hand and it really stirred some memories.
At that moment I said to Bonnie and Eddie that if they cut the trees down in the infield and cleared some land, I would get some vintage cars to come next year. Sadly, Eddie unexpectedly died at Christmas. Determined to honor Eddie Jr. the family worked all winter and cleared the land as you saw it Saturday and thus the beginning of the Circle M Ranch Speedway reunion and the Eddie Mates Memorial.
The track is located on 300 acres of land which is owned by the Circle M Construction Company. The track raced in 1955 and 1956 under Eddie Mates. In 1957 and 1958 it was leased to the Hurley Family from Carlisle. Because of tracks like Reading and Williams Grove paying big bucks, Circle M, Mount Carbon, Fort Lebanon and Bern Speedways all closed. When you stand on the 1st and second turn at Circle M, you could see Fort Lebanon Speedway.
Thank you to Bonnie Mates and to Ken Johnson for the invite!
"Mr. Racerman" Mike Shaub gives a wave
"Wild Ass Ride" dash art.
Remains of the grandstands
Large tree growing up through the remains of the stands.
I'm told that folks used to sit on this side in the stands, and others would park on the other side of the track "drive-inn" style.
I kinda' like the White Phantom with a little dirt on it - So does Artie!
Nice job by the folks selling 50/50's to help support "The Long Haul." (Phil grew up in nearby Auburn PA, so he's kind of the hometown boy!)
Joe Opitz takes a few laps in the former Toby Tobias driven #44.
That's Bonnie Mates and her brother Lee Fessler looking on. It's because of Bonnie, her family and some very helpful friends that this event was able to happen! Lee (pictured above) raced at the original track back in the 50's!
Thank you to all the folks that made the 2014 Circle M Ranch Reunion a really great event.
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