Two-Lane Memories

Today, the Memphis Commercial Appeal ran a feature on what remains of Lakeland International Raceway. and what the future holds for the property. Although not unexpected, and the hand writing has been on the wall for years, it looks like this old haunt is finally about to be "re-developed" into something that will erase all evidence that it ever existed.

So click here to see what the paper has to say about Lakeland. It's short but sweet. Try not to get too wound up when current city of Lakeland mayor Scott Carmichael states that "I was unaware of it until I got involved in politics." After all, it's been 30 years since the track was open. Still, I wonder who remembers how much has changed? Does anyone who lives there now remember the Amusement Park? the Speedbowl? the Drag Strip? or maybe the KOA camp grounds where you could crawl out of a tent and peek out onto the track and watch the racing? Does anyone remember that Lakeland was actually out in the boondocks when it was an active racetrack?

It looks like it's up to us that frequented the place to keep some memories of the old track alive, because it's bones are being scraped away and the strip is being paved over to make room for a new condominium or some such. Just what the overbuilt area needs. This is pretty much the final nail in the coffin of what was Lakeland. The speculating investors who brought us the mall and chased the drag strip away have no doubt been disappointed that the collection of factory outlet stores have gone largely ignored since the retail establishment was conceived. On the rare occasion that I ever entered the mall it has always been a veritable ghost town. They probably should have left well enough alone, since most of the time, this track was a popular destination for motorheads of the day.

Note the packed bleachers in the shot above, or the humanity hanging off the crossover bridge as "Big Daddy" smokes in the starting line somewhere around 1975 (if my memory serves me.) This was a happening place, where drag racing history unfolded before our eyes. Some of you that read what is on this site were part of that history. Some of you made it happen, and seared the memories into the grey matter for eternity. Thanks to you for what you did. Fortunately, we can still go to the drags in the Memphis area, and still race, but this was a different time. I'm glad I saw at least some of it first hand. I'll bet most of you that were there feel the same way. So fire the next pair and let's make some more memories for tomorrow... somewhere else.