June 10, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
In the ’50s and ’60s area racing fans flocked to Portsmouth Speedway on the weekend. There legends were created at a time when there wasn’t much money in the sport. So people did it for the love of racing in its rawest form.
“It sure has changed. The racing business has grown by leaps and bounds. Big money now,” Bobby Morgan, who drove a race car back in the ’50s, said. “We didn’t get rich back then. We did it for fun”
Now racing fans can take a trip back in time for the fifth year in a row as the Thunder Returns 5 takes place this Saturday from 11 a.m. unti 3 p.m. at Lazy Village Campground and RV Park, the former site of old Portsmouth Speedway, between five and six miles from Portsmouth just before you get into Friendship. Portsmouth Speedway held races from 1952 to 1962.
“It’s sort of a reunion for the old drivers that raced down there about 50 years ago,” organizer Gary Meade said. “They have a lot of fans who were kids and grew up going to the races every year. It’s a get-together for the fans and the drivers. The fans can see their heroes, the drivers, and just mingle and talk. We’re going to have a little autograph session this year with the drivers.”
Last years event was the largest so far.
“We had 15 retired drivers show up,” Meade said.
Meade said the VARC (Vintage American Race Car) Club will bring anywhere from six to 10 old restored race cars for people to see.
“We also have a cruise-in with muscle and classic cars,” Meade said. “And we’ll have a disc jockey with ’50s music for the fans who have been around for a long time.”
Meade said one of the race car drivers who drove at Portsmouth Speedway is still racing in this area.
“Bud Frazier is racing mostly down here at Portsmouth, and just around the area,” Meade said. “Last week he was driving a late model down at PRP (Portsmouth Raceway Park). He normally races up to KC Raceway. But he has been coming down here too.
Meade said Thunder Returns is a family event where everyone can look at the old race cars and meet the guys who used to burn up the track.
“Everything is free unless you want a hot dog,” Meade said. “Just come on down and have a good time.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.