Thompson International Speedway
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (April 2010)|
Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut, USA, is a 5⁄8-mile (1.0 km) paved oval racetrack that was once known as the Indianapolis of the East. It was the first asphalt-paved racing oval track in the United States and is now under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banner. Each year Thompson hosts one of the great fall variety events "The World Series of Auto Racing" highlighted by the ISMA Super Modifieds and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. This event frequently draws over 350 race cars in 16 separate divisions over three days.
Following cleanup from the hurricane of 1938, John Hoenig built a combined 5⁄8-mile (1.0 km) paved oval and 1.6-mile (2.6 km) road racing course on his farmland in the northeast corner of Connecticut.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Thompson's Sunday night program was a who's who of modified greats such as Carl "Bugs" Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Fred Schulz, Ron Bouchard, Ed Flemke, Leo Cleary, Smoky Boutwell, and Geoff Bodine. During this period the track hosted memorable special events which drew legendary Southern drivers like Ray Hendrick in the famous "fire" #1 to battle the locals. Other surprise stars included Long Island's Fred Harbach and Rene Charland from Massachusetts.
In the late 1970s, the track drew 55 winged Super Modifieds to their World Series race. By owner's choice, all 55 started. During the energy crisis during the 1970s Thompson hosted a unique division called the "Open Competitive" division which merged the Super Modifieds with the Modifieds. Later, Thompson tried a lower cost stock-cylinder-head modified division which chased away some of the tracks regulars. Until the 1980s the track had a unique barrier outside turns 1-2 and 3-4 made of dirt fill.
The track has endured some tragic moments which have claimed the lives of David Peterson (1977), Tony Willman, DeSarro, Harry Kourafus Jr., Dick Dixon, Corky Cookman, Tom Baldwin, Sr., John Blewett III, and most recently Shane Hammond (April 6, 2008). DeSarro's death prompted a memorial fund-raiser which drew the largest crowd to date and the Northeast's best drivers in an open competition Modified race with no purse. Both Evans and Bodine mounted their cars with wings. Baldwin and Blewett died while competing in the same race on the tour, three years apart.
Hoenig's son Donald and grandson D.R. continue to operate the family-owned facility. As of June 1, 2013 the Hoenig family began work to reconstruct the 1.7 mile road course with and accompanying paddock and staging areas. The road course is scheduled to reopen for the 2014 season. Thompson is creating a private club model for individual use of the road course, the website (http://www.thompsonspeedway.com/index.php) notes that "The Club" will be limited to 200 members. The website for the new facility seems to indicate that the name is changing from Thomson International Speedway to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
On August 15, 2013 in an article on the NorwichBulletin.com (http://www.norwichbulletin.com/sports/x853701979/Racing-finally-returns-to-Thompson) track General Manager Jonathan Hoening, stated that "nothing is happening with the oval" and that there would be "limited schedule" for oval racing in 2014. The article also noted that on July 18, 2013 Hoenig stated that there would be no local racing in 2014.
Thompson operates a successful Thursday night NASCAR weekly racing series along with many special events. The Hoenig's also operate an 18 hole golf course and clubhouse/restaurant on the property.
Use in simulations / games
The current layout appears in the online racing simulation iRacing where it is laser scanned for millimeter accuracy.