The Herald Bulletin

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Entertainment

August 10, 2013

Armscamp was popular racetrack

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — For many years race fans attended Sun Valley Speedway in Anderson to enjoy wheel-to-wheel competition on the track. But there was an equally popular racing venue in Alexandria that drew large crowds close to the number seen at Sun Valley.

From 1941 through 1967 Armscamp Speedway hosted a variety of races on the quarter-mile asphalt oval track and a one-eighth mile infield track.

Built in April 1941 by Joe Armstrong and Frank Scampmorte of Anderson, Armscamp Speedway was located on the north side of Alexandria off Indiana 28. Opening day for the track was July 4th of that year

The entrance to Armscamp ran beneath a wooden arch that featured an illustration of a midget race car. Patrons parked in an open field near the track that was equipped with lighting for night racing. On any given Saturday or Sunday, 4,000 to 5,000 race fans packed the bleachers to watch local, regional, or nationally known drivers compete for prize money, trophies, or bragging rights.

The format at Armscamp was similar to that of Anderson's Sun Valley Speedway. Jalopies, midget and sprint cars, and the crowd-pleasing Figure 8 were regular features at the Alexandria racetrack. The heat races were given a Le Mans-type start with drivers dashing to their cars once the green flag dropped.

During this era of auto racing, seat belts were an option and harnesses were unheard of, making the Le Mans start an easy task. That is unless you were a one-legged driver named Bill Schindler who found much difficulty running to and settling into his race car. But once there, Schindler raced with the best of them using a hand brake mounted outside the car's cockpit.

 

Fire seen for miles

Racing ceased at Armscamp Speedway in 1943 and 1944 for the war years but reopened the following year when the Office of Defense Transportation permitted a relaxation of war time travel restrictions.

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