TRACK HISTORY

What started as a modest little dirt track blossomed into a popular paved short track, rich with history.

 

The small village of Douglastown, New Brunswick got a little louder in the year 1967. After a couple years of 3 tracks operating within a 50 mile radius (including Hillcrest Speedway, a dirt track just a couple hundred feet down the road from the current track), 5 local businessman teamed up to build a new track in Douglastown. Construction began near the corner of McKinnon Rd. and Williston Dr. on the $400 000 facility. Power lines had to be installed back the length of the Williston Dr., as there had been no developments in the area to that point.

 

When construction was completed, a brand new 1/3-mile dirt track opened. After a short time, the asphalt was laid and Miramichi Speedway opened its gates. Brent Jay was the inaugural track champion, and then Lindsay Tozer won back to back championships the following years. The early days were initially successful, but times became tough before long, and the track was barely operating by the early 70's.

 

After a few years of running off and on, River Glade Speedway promoter Ernie McLean stepped up and ran the track for a full schedule for the 1974 season. Some of the best drivers of that time battled, but Jim MacPherson became the 1974 champion. That would be the last year of  racing for the tracks inaugural run, as no successful reopenings happened for nearly a decade.

After sitting mostly dormant for 9 years, Pierre Allain reopened the track in 1983 with great fan-fare, kicking off the most well-renowned era in the tracks history. Opening day for the new Douglastown Speedway1983 season saw 3000 fans pack the stands to watch the best Sportsman racing in the province. Alpine sponsored the points championship that year, with Keith Tucker winning it all.

1984 seen some more changes to the track. Part way through the 1984 season, Allain sold his lease to Sportsman driver Frank Williston. The track would become known as Williston Speedway. Vernon Gray won the 1984 championship.

Under Williston's guidance, the track expanded in 1985. A second division, known as the "Dukes of Hazard" class, and later shortened to the Dukes class, was started at the track. This class would eventually become known as the Bomber class, and eventually the Street Stock class. Terry Russell won the Dukes championship, and former owner Pierre Allain dominated the Sportsman class en route to the championship.

Former track champion Lindsay Tozer purchased the track for 1986, and renamed it Miramichi Raceway. Tozer's run as owner was short lived, as he soon sold it back to Frank Williston. In 1988, the track was sold to Wilfred McKay and Sportsman driver Clarence Patles, and renamed yet again - this time to McKay's Speedway.

With strong car counts in all classes, the track continued to grow. MASCAR competed at the track some during the late 80's and early 90's, before taking a leave of absence following the 1991 race. In 1990, announcer Cyril Hall created the Brunswick 100 - a 100 lap Sportsman race. The inagural Brunswick 100 was the richest race in tracks history, with an $8500 purse and a potential entry list that exceeded 60 cars! Kirk Jardine was the winner of that race.

Throughout these years, a number of drivers made a local claim to fame with their successes. The Sportsman class was dominated by champions such as Rick Buckley, Ray McCray, Brad Mann, Terry Russell, and Moncton driver Tim Rodgers. Fan favorites and multi time winners, who didn't win a championship, included the likes of Frank MacKenzie, Kim Hallihan, Kirk Jardine, Rat Regan, Garth Creamer, and Paul Dunn, just to name a few. In the Street Stock class, John Underhill, Johnny Goodwin, Todd Mullin, Rick Hetherington, Chris Sickles, Frank Dick, Lyndon Lyons and Dave Clark were among the best.

In early 1994, Wilfred McKay sold his share of the track to Sportsman driver Brad Mann, and in the fall of 94 Clarence Patles sold his share to businessman Reg Tozer. With the City of Miramichi being formed in 1995 through amalgamation, the track became known as Miramichi City Speedway in 1995. The new owners began making some improvements to the facility immediately. Around this time, Demolition Derby started being held on select race nights at the track. In 1995, attempts were made to create the New Brunswick Pro Stock Tour, which was to have 3 dates in Miramichi. The tour ultimately was unsuccessful and didn't return to the track after this year.

In 1996, MASCAR returned to the track for the first time since 1991, with the legendary Scott Fraser dominating to win. That summer would also be the final running of the Brunswick 100 as a Sportsman race, with Brad Tozer claiming the victory.

1997 brought more changes to the track. In attempt to create more growth, the new Hobby Stock class was introduced. Unfortunately, Sportsman car counts decreased dramatically that summer, all while Demolitions soared in popularity. In 1999, the track only held 8 events, 5 of which included Demos. 1999 would also be the final stop ever for the MASCAR tour, with John Flemming scoring the victory.

Racing saw a bit of a resurgence during the early 2000's. While Demo's were very popular - with in excess of 50 cars sometimes, and the ever popular figure 8 race, Sportsman racing returned to race almost every week of the summer. In 2001 the Street Stock and Hobby Stock class was merged into one division. Unfortunately, car counts never returned to the strong levels of the 80's and 90's.

The late 90's and early 2000's saw some new faces winning races. Yves McCray was possibly the most successful during this time, finishing top 2 in points 7 times. Other successful drivers were Brian Ashton, Brad Tozer, Gary Clark, and Wayne Wormell. Blaine Moses, Stephane Savoie, Derek Goodwin, and Jason Silliker were some of the most successful drivers in Street Stock, while Eddy Hay, Kevin Tucker, and Robert Legere, among others, were successful Demo competitors.

2003 saw the introduction of the 4 Cylinder class, and the debut of the Atlantic Open Wheel Tour in Miramichi. Meanwhile, the tracks future began to be put into doubt as the Sportsman and Street Stock classes began to falter. With Miramichi's economy on the downfall, and track owner Reg Tozer's health declining, the 2005 season was not expected to happen. It did - despite only running Demo events with 4 Cylinder races. 

In 2006, Miramichi City Speedway got a boost, with the re-introduction of the Dukes class. While this helped the track some, the future still wasn't good for the track. In 2008, champions were crowned for the final time, ending a 26 year run of crowning champions. Only 3 events were held in 2009, and only a single event in each of 2010 and 2011.

In 2012, the ambitious Jason Carnahan teamed up with David Nielsen to purchase and restore the track. A massive renovation projected was completed, and the new Speedway Miramichi reopened to a packed crowd of over 2200 in June 2012. In July, the first Sportsman race in nearly a decade was held, with Ken MacKenzie grabbing the win.

2014 would mark a major year in the tracks revival. Track champions were crowned for the first time since 2008, and that September, Pro Stock returned for a 125 laps race, which was won by PEI's Jonathan Hicken.

 

In July 2015 the track was sold to Barry Richard, who continues to operate the track to this day.

Under Barry's management, the track saw the biggest race since the 90's, with the 2017 Chi City Showdown being the scene for 25 Street Stock cars to compete for 100 laps. 

 

Now known as Speedway Miramichi, 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of the track opening as a paved oval. The tracks 50th year promises to be an exciting one, as the first chapter of the tracks next 50 years is written! With the return of the Brunswick 100 and increased car counts expected across the board, 2018 will be the most unforgettable season ever!

While it hasn't always been good times, the track, much like the city its named after, has survived all the tough times and continued to be resilient. The people of Miramichi never give up, and they especially never give up on their track - one rich with 50 years of history!

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Background Photo Credit Mike Francis (Used with permission)