Twin State Speedway Shut Down for 2013 Season

Claremont — Jack Murray first went to Claremont Speedway as a fan in 1964 and got the motor sports bug. By 1977 he was racing and now owns a pair of modified cars that his son, Jeff, pilots. Now known as Twin State Speedway, Murray calls the one-third asphalt oval “the best track in New England.”

“It’s a beautiful facility, the pit area is one of the best and it’s just a wonderful track,” he said.

All of which makes Murray, the owner of American Tire and Brake, very sad.

Twin State Speedway is for sale, and if no buyer is found, there will be no racing this spring at the track, which first opened in 1947. Since then, it has been owned the Fleury family.

“After much consideration I have decided it is best to cancel racing on the Asphalt Racing Series at Twin State Speedway for 2013,” owner Dennis Fleury wrote on the track’s website. “The track is for sale and I will be devoting my time to finding a buyer in time for them to open for the 2013 season. I want to thank all the loyal racers and fans that have supported this great facility throughout the years.”

Murray said he saw Fleury on Monday and had no idea he was shutting the track down. Murray knew it was for sale, but he thought it would still open for the 2013 season.

“We’ve been waiting to have a rules meeting,” he said.

Murray said Fleury talked to him about purchasing the track for $750,000. Murray said he would like to own the facility, but that the asking price was too steep.

When contacted last night, Dennis Fleury declined to comment.

The track at one time was the place to be on Saturday nights, as the stands, which held about 3,000 fans, jammed the facility to watch the likes of Buddy Bardwell, the Cote brothers, Punky Caron, Dwight Jarvis, Jack Bateman, Peter Daniels and many others that would be cheered wildly as they drove onto the track. Their pictures were on sale and autograph sessions were a regular feature.

There was also rowdiness in the early years, when alcohol was allowed in the stands. Eventually security was hired, alcohol was banned and the parking lot was lighted.

Perhaps what happened yesterday was inevitable. Murray said it was clear the track wasn’t drawing well last season, when there were often more people in the pits than there were in the stands.

“The car count was good, as there might have been 100 cars in the pits, but the stands were empty,” he said.

The track offered competition in six classes — Late Models, Super Stocks, Limited Sportsman, Modifieds, Wild Cats and Red Neck Enduros. Murray said he and his son will take their vehicles to other tracks such as Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., and Lee Speedway near the Seacoast. They also will run in 10 races called the Bob Valenti Modified Tour.

Even if a buyer is not found, the Karting Series will continue with Archie Archambault leasing that series.

Claremont Speedway was first owned by Arthur Fleury, who built a dirt track for jalopies on land that was used to grow potatoes. A couple of decades later, Sonny Fleury took over the track from his brother. Around 1980, the Claremont Owners and Drivers Association leased the track from Sonny Fleury and ran the track until 1985, when Sonny Fleury took it back and had it paved. When Sonny died in 1993, his daughter, Sherry, ran the facility until 2004, when Dennis Fleury purchased the track.

“What happened today is really sad,” Murray said.