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Old York County dirt track brought sounds of revving engines, cheering fans to middle of no where

The long-abandoned Bowling Green Speedway’s oval is visible today, slightly left of center, in this Google Map. This bird’s-eye view shows the rural nature of the old track and how it’s returning to the countryside. In its heyday 60 years ago, noise from the racing cars and fans broke the peace of this rural area on race nights. Fans of the speedway and Glen Rock-area history will learn about that old dirt track with its tight, high banks at a Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society meeting this week. Also of interest: Bowling Green Speedway illustrates York County’s love affair with its cars.

Some years ago, I took a trip out to find the old Bowling Green Speedway.

I was equipped with an aerial photo from the YDR of the old track, similar to the one above. And I knew a monument remembering the track and its racers sat along the road to the old oval so that would get me close, too.

I found the monument, oriented myself and drove to the vicinity. I thought about this remote area.

This area of Shaffer Church and Messersmith roads  is one of the most rural areas of York County. Glen Rock is the nearest real town.

But on racing nights, it was an area of heavy traffic and, no doubt, its sky bore a haze of dust churned up by spinning wheels. People came out here by the hundreds on racing night.

It goes to remind you that there’s history in every square inch of York County.

And it points to a sometimes overlooked hobby blessed by generations of York countians – going to the race track on weekends. William Grove Speedway is the most popular example today.

And now this week, those going to Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society’s monthly meeting will hear about those nights when the sounds of revving engines and cheering fans filled the air in that spot, in the middle of no where.


Penn Pilot shows this image of Bowling Green Speedway in 1971. Peer closely and you’ll see the oval in the center of this photograph (just above a big patch of woods). Chris Ballard Amspacher said this about the track on ‘You’re Probably from Glen Rock If’ Facebook page: ‘I went with my Mom & Dad to the races in the 50’s. It was loud and dirty…and a sense of community.’ Also of interest: Map aficionados will love this bird’s-eye view of York, Pa.

Also of interest

Don Waltermyer commented about York County’s love affair with its cars on my FB page:

‘LOVED going to stock car races, as a kid, with my dad. We frequented Lincoln Speedway, Susquehanna, & occasionally Williams Grove. Good times!! (In fact, my dad actually drove in one race, & the car his business (Waltermyer Floors) sponsored, has been restored & shown at the car show in Carlisle…)’

Cameron Mitchell remembered: Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society members will receive an update this week about efforts to memorialize this famous actor from York County: