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Salem Speedway facts for kids

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Salem Speedway
Location 2729 Hwy 56 West
Salem, Indiana
Coordinates 38°36′00″N 86°08′25″W / 38.60000°N 86.14028°W / 38.60000; -86.14028
Capacity 6000
Owner Owen & Beverly Thompson
Opened June 22, 1947
Former names Salem Super Speedway
Major events USAC, ARCA
Length .555 mi
Banking 33°

Salem Speedway is a .555 miles (0.893 km) long paved oval motor racetrack in Washington Township, Washington County, near Salem, Indiana, approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of Indianapolis. The track has 33° degrees of banking in the corners. Major auto racing series that run at Salem are ARCA and USAC.


It opened in 1947; two drivers were killed on the first lap of the first race. The track received major storm damage in 1981 and it was not used until 1987. A thunderstorm had ripped the roof off the grandstands and fences were damaged. Don Gettelfinger Sr. bought the track in 1987 and he replaced the fence with concrete. The track closed in May 1995 when he declared bankruptcy. Owen and Beverly Thompson bought the track and reopened it in 1996 after adding a new building, redoing the grandstand seating to a new capacity of 6000 people, and renovating the pits. Thompson leased the track to Bill Kniesly starting in 2020.

Appearance of Touring Series

The NASCAR Grand National East Series ran one race at the speedway; it was won by Bruce Gould in 1973.

The ASA National Tour ran six races at the track, from 1998 through 2003 and the winners were Scott Hansen (twice), David Stremme, Tim Sauter, Gary St. Amant and Robbie Pyle.

USAR ran seven races at the track between 2002 and 2008; winners include Brian Ross, Joel Kauffman, Mikey Kile, Jeff Agnew, Gary St. Amant.

NASCAR Southeast Series ran two races at the facility between 1996 and 1997; the races were won by Steven Christian and Ron Young respectively.

Salem Speedway has seen many great racers who are household names, such as Ruttman, Carter, Sweikert, O’Connor, Parnelli Jones, A. J. Foyt, Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Vogler, Allison, Parsons, Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Busch, Kasey Kahne, Ken Schrader, Joey Logano, and the list goes on. In 2018, Kody Swanson broke the all-time USAC Silvercrown record with his 24th series win at Salem.

As of 2019, the track has held more ARCA races than any other track (106th visit); it held races at the track since 1955. The ARCA qualifying record is 16.785 seconds/119.035 mph by Gary Bradberry in 1994.

2006 ALWTS Salem Speedway
ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series Trucks at Salem, September 16, 2006

Rich Vogler

On July 21, 1990, during the Joe James / Pat O'Connor Memorial sprint car event at the Salem Speedway, which was nationally broadcast on ESPN Thunder, sprint car driver Rich Vogler sustained severe head injuries and was killed after a crash in turn 4. Vogler, who was leading the event at the time and was about to take the white flag signaling one lap to go, hit head on with the turn 4 wall, violently throwing tires, Vogler's helmet, and other pieces of Vogler's car all over the track. The race was red flagged and would never restart. Vogler, now dead at the age of 39, was declared the winner posthumously because of USAC National Sprint Car Series rules on a red flag reverting to the previous completed lap. This was his 170th win. Finishing first among the survivors was a young driver from Pittsboro, Indiana, named Jeff Gordon.

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