Interview by Nancy C. Reinbold. Interview date: 2016-04-13.
This interview was conducted in Del’s home, with Scott Grzyb taping and also conducting an interview.
Del Porter reflects on the Brookline Speedway
Del remembers that the attitude among the Brookliners was about 60-75% for the track, and 25% were against it. Those for it wanted the economic growth it would bring. Those against the track objected to the noise. There were those who moved out of town because of it. One thing is that it was held on Sundays. That was against a lot of people’s ideals. It was during the afternoon, and then it also ran at night. There were lights, and sometimes it ran until midnight. It kept kids awake, and people had to go to work the next day. And it was NOISY. The noise came right up into the middle of town, and beyond. Del had no objections. It was just something else going on in town. Del didn’t go all the time, just occasionally. He had no strong feelings either way.
Lawrence Corey and Nason Fessenden owned the property. They were the most likely ones to bring the idea before the Board of Selectmen. Del doesn’t remember exactly when it was voted in, but thinks it was probably the late 50’s.
Del was a spectator at the races, and also a member of the Fire Department. At that time he ran the ambulance in town. Once or twice he was the ambulance driver at the races. He drove the ambulance to the races only a couple of times, an old hearse. Finally he wouldn’t drive anymore because those running the races refused to have a doctor on location. He doesn’t remember who was running the races, who was in charge. So, Del told the Fire Department he wouldn’t drive the ambulance anymore. The ambulance was an old hearse the Fire Department had acquired somewhere. He doesn’t remember if anyone was ever taken to the hospital in it. He didn’t want the responsibility anymore. When he went to the races, it was in the daytime, and sometimes at night.
Del didn’t know any of the race car drivers personally. In later years they ran jalopies, the kind you drive to wreck them. Some of the guys in town entered those races. Del knew some of them. He believes they are all gone now.
When they first started the races they ran those midget cars. There wasn’t any of the big race cars like the ones they have now. They didn’t have those races in Brookline. They had the midget cars, then the stock cars. Del’s favorite memory of the Speedway was the midget (Sprint) cars.
After the races started there were some families that moved out of the town because of the noise. One family lived next to the Legion House, and one family lived in Maurice Marshall’s house. Another family lived where Jackie Knowles lives now.
The company I worked for built the race track. Better’s Construction Company. They didn’t construct the stands and all, just all the ground work, back before it was asphalted. The company didn’t do that. They had no electric power down there to run the lights at night, and Better’s Construction had a large, portable generator. The race track rented the generator from Better’s. That is what they used to run the lights at night. The generator was loaded up into a truck and taken to the track. When the races were over, they unhooked it, loaded it on the truck, and put it away. It was taken back to the track and hooked up again, whenever they needed it.
They had the regular 110 volt power. They had a large lamp, now in the Brookline Historical Society Barn, used to start the races. Perhaps, the red, yellow, and green lights. It was a single lamp.
Del sometimes went with friends, sometimes alone and met others there. He remembered races were the midget cars, the stock cars. It wasn’t a big, long track. It was oval, with very short straightways. Not too much speed, maybe 35 miles per hour.