Amatol | Atlantic City
In WW II
Speedway Photo Gallery
The site of the Atlantic City Speedway lies hidden in the forest along Moss Mill Road. The "Atlantic City" Speedway was situated more than 25 miles to the west of Atlantic City, near Hammonton in Mullica Township, New Jersey. Locals frequently refer to it as the "Amatol Race Track". The location of the track is found by walking a path off Rt. 561 (Moss Mill Rd.) to a rough oval dirt road that traces where the speedway once stood. The thick forest, undergrowth and thorny briers hamper exploration of the area. Ticks, yellow jackets and snakes make exploration a challenge during warm weather.
The Atlantic City speedway was built in 1926 on a portion of the former Amatol site at a cost of millions of dollars. The project was backed and sponsored by Charles M. Schwab, Marshall R. Ward, H. E. Clark and S.D. Clark. The Jack Prince Construction Company of Oakland Ca. was the contractor. The track was a steeply banked 1.5 mile long and 50' wide oval. The board track was built to handle speeds of 160 MPH. The construction required 4.5 million board feet of lumber, enough to fill 253 railroad cars. A 50' wide dirt track was built as an "apron" on the inner side of the board track. The Atlantic City Motor Speedway Association, incorporated in the state of Delaware December 1925, held an exclusive franchise from the American Automobile Association. No other races could be held within 250 miles of the speedway.
Fastest in the Country
The speedway was billed as "The fastest board track in the country" and "The biggest in the East" and for a brief time rated better than the Indianapolis 500. (See records) Ample provision was made for a huge audience. The grand stand, built by the M. P. Wells Construction Company, could hold 60,000 fans and was said to be 75 or more feet high. The construction of the grand stand required another 1.5 million board feet of lumber. There was additional space for 250,000 standing spectators. Parking was provided for 60,000 vehicles. In 1926 1/5 of the U.S. population was located within 150 miles of the speedway. Hundreds of cars parked along the White Horse Pike (Rt. 322) during the inaugural event. Apparently people feared not being able to find their cars in the parking area. Police warned that cars parked along the White Horse Pike during subsequent events would be towed. For future racing events, an elaborate traffic plan was conceived to handle 200,000 people - twice the expected attendance. The planning involved the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, the New Jersey Highway Department and the New Jersey State Police. Moss Mill road (Rt. 561) was widened to 66 feet and a railroad station - "Speedway, N.J." built. The Pennsylvania Railroad instituted a special train service, for the first time in New Jersey, to bring fans to the speedway events. Parking was arranged by return destination to avoid cross traffic congestion. The press of the time noted close to 80,000 people attending one event. Burdick's garage was built nearby along the White horse Pike to provide comfort and refreshments for those traveling to the speedway and fuel for the Philadelphia Rapid Transit busses that brought in passengers to speedway events.
Great names of racing and several greenhorns competed for the $30,000 in prize money in the classic races, or for the gold cup in the stock car event. My father-in-law, Mr. Dan Santora of Hammonton, still recalls sneaking into the speedway as a child. Tickets at the time cost upwards of $3.50. For another 25 cents a fan could purchase an official souvenir program - a small fortune for the son of a farmer. Mr. Santora remembers when there was much talk at the dinner table about Harry Hartz. Beginning with Harry Hartz driving a Miller at the may 1st. 1926 inaugural event, a number of fantastic results were achieved. Six new speed records were set that day. A number of other world records were set at the Atlantic City Speedway during its' lifetime. Spectators were not only wowed with automobile and motorcycle races but also an airplane event featuring acrobatics and trapeze stunts, a balloon race, skywriting, parachute jumping and an ambulance race. A special "oldest car to make it around the track" event featured a 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile and a 1900 Winton. Three championship races were held each year. Other events included stock car races.
The golden age of board track racing was in its' twilight. Two years after it began, racing ended at the speedway. For a time the Studebaker automobile company used the track as a proving ground. In 1933 the great oval was torn down and the lumber sold. Later, the Hammonton fire Department burned what remained of the speedway. Where once thousand of people lived, worked and played, the forest has again closed it's leafy mantle. The outline of the track and the railroad cuts that served the Amatol munitions plant are still visible in an aerial view of the forest. A great diversity of plant and animal life now flourishes on the sites of the former Amatol munitions plant and Atlantic City Speedway. Today on the Amatol property one may spot in the forest those denizens of the Pinelands: the Northern Pine Snake, the bizarrely colored Pine Barrens Tree Frog, the rare Swamp Pink or the beautiful Dragon's Mouth Orchid . Over 1700 acres of the Amatol and speedway site is now a New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife management area. For further research see the bibliography.
| Amatol | Atlantic City In WW II |
by: William J.
Atlantic Cape Community College
at Atlantic Cape Community College, Mays Landing, N. J.
These pages created and maintained by Robert Benner.