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COBWEB CORNERS: A 2nd year for the race track on mill hill

By Mel McFarland

May 22, 2018
       I was surprised to learn that the 21st Street race track survived the 1946 season and ran again in 1947. (See Cobweb Corners column, April 11, 2018, at this link.)
       By that time, the track, set up on the hill near the Golden Cycle gold mill, had become known as "Gasoline Alley." For non-race fans, that is also the name of the Indianapolis 500 pit area and of a long-running comic strip.
       In 1947, there were at least two big news stories about Gasoline Alley, however, neither related much to the racing.
       The first story was the destruction of the refreshment stand in the early hours of June 13, 1947. Someone had planted a load of dynamite at the corner of the building. The week before, some dynamite had been stolen from a work site at Tunnel One on the Midland Terminal railroad in Manitou. It was assumed that this is what the thief had in mind.
       The building, of not very heavy construction, was blown to bits, along with a small quantity of stock. The loss was estimated to be just over $50! I have not found out yet if the police ever solved the case.
       About two weeks later at a Sunday afternoon race, a summer rainstorm brought lightning to the hill, sending five people to the hospital. Nearly 20 other spectators were affected, but not as seriously. It was estimated that there were 2,000 spectators in all.
       The storm was one of those typical afternoon drenchings. People were already heading for their cars when the lightning struck. The whole event probably lasted a few minutes. The injured were taken to St. Francis, mostly in private automobiles. The track had an ambulance ready, and it took a couple of people to the same hospital.
       The races continued through the summer, based on the newspapers of 1947.
       The competition for Gasoline Alley was the Pikes Peak Speedway, out on Platte Avenue near the airport, which was holding races regularly. Another new track, mainly for motorcycles, opened out on Templeton Gap near "Rattle Snake Hill." There were also several tracks in Denver and at least two in Pueblo.

(Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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