I have spent my winter traveling around northeast Oklahoma looking for abandonment. We have had a very mild season this year so I tried to take advantage of it by doing more photographing than writing. Not that I was ever really good about writing a lot of posts! Ha! But, now that the Bradford Pear trees are bursting with white blooms, the grass is getting greener, the ranchers are burning off pastures, the weatherman is predicting thunderstorms and the trees are beginning to leaf out, it will be hard to access, let alone see, some of Oklahoma’s abandoned places that I have taken an interest in photographing. Like the old Tulsa Speedway that sits empty and decaying along Highway 75, just north of the city.
I had no idea this place even existed until I saw someone post a picture on the Abandoned Oklahoma Group Facebook page. This group is an excellent resource for history, directions, photos and just general information when I am looking for new places to explore. Anyway, I had to check it out. Had to see if it was still there as the posted photo was several years old. Saturday was beautiful! Sunny, warm and low winds. Perfect weather for exploration and photography. I found the speedway with no problem, but wasn’t sure how much of it I would be able to actually explore. To my delight, there were no signs posted and just one gate that I could easily climb over. I adhere to the rule, “take only photos and leave only footprints”. And if there are signs posted, I don’t enter at all.
I wandered down the old beaten path to the buildings and found the concession stand, the ticket booth, the press box and just beyond that, the track. Long forgotten and neglected, littered with old tires and race programs, it looked like something straight out of a movie set. Once the movie was made, everyone just packed up and left. But, if I stopped long enough, I could almost hear the roar of the engines and the smell of gasoline in the air.
I poked around this place for over an hour, loving every minute of new discovery. There was graffiti in the pressbox and old tires everywhere. An old desk stood on one end at the first turn. How strange, I thought, that this desk was out here. Piles of old race programs and a tattered phone book fluttered in the breeze coming from the open door of one of the empty buildings. O’Riley Auto Parts must have been a huge sponsor as their logo was everywhere. Kind of ironic that this sponsor lives on while the racetrack died, what seems a sudden death.
It was getting late in the morning and I had a lot of miles yet to cover on this day, so I packed up the camera and headed back to the car, with the echoes of past races still ringing in my head. I don’t know what will happen to this grand ol’ track. Maybe nothing. After all, it has been here, empty, for years. But, it sure would be nice if someone could fix it up and let the next generation of dirt track racers experience this piece of our past.