I ran up on this track last week. I found the following article on myreporter.com The aerial that got me interested is below from 1969.
Legion Stadium has been the hub of Wilmington’s sports scene since its construction in the mid 1930s. Automobile racing was part of that scene from the facility’s beginning.
Newspaper clippings from October 1937 and 1938 advertise “AAA-Sanctioned races” at the “American Legion track of the Coastal Fair grounds,” the name Legion Stadium went by before completion of the athletic fields a few years later.
Automobile exhibitions were frequent as well. Several ads from the 1940s promise “action, thrills, speed, crashes!” with the Jimmy Lynch Death Dodgers. The Hell Drivers, with what was described as a “daredevil leap,” were also a popular attraction in the ’40s.
Motorcycle exhibitions were held at Legion during the ’40s, and a 1948 newspaper article describes a request to the New Hanover County commissioners to open the stadium to motorcycle races that summer.
Records from the 1950s and ’60s are sketchy, as no public clip files exist from those decades. Local racing legend Hoss Ellington, a member of the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame who moved to the Port City in 1961, said he recalls car races at Legion in the ’60s, but he did his racing around a dirt track that was located near Snow’s Cut just north of Carolina Beach.
Another local sports historian, Tommy Walton, remembers motorcycle races at Legion in the ’50s and ’60s, but didn’t recall any auto races.
A most unlikely source revealed not everyone in Wilmington was thrilled with auto racing at the stadium. Billboard, the national amusement industry publication based in Chicago, has a small article in its June 26, 1954 issue about the Wilmington city council allowing Sunday afternoon racing despite the protests of residents who lived near the track.
The race track at Legion disappeared in the early 1970s as the once-thriving horse racing facilities there were dismantled and the focus of the complex turned to football and baseball.
Date posted: February 12, 2010
Like my Daddy always said, "If ya gonna be dumb, Ya gotta be TOUGH!"