Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Juniper Valley Racetrack

Cynthia Kazen, Queens Ledger, October 19, 1978

This is a photo showing the east turn of the Maspeth (Middle Village) racetrack.

About fifty years ago there was a race track in Maspeth. Many area men as well as men from all over New York came to race ther. Harold Storz, of Maspeth used to race at the track. He wrote us an interesting letter he thought would be of interest to our readers. We are delighted to print Mr. Storz' letter for you to enjoy.

Way back in 1927, ther was a race track where the Juniper Valley Park is today. It was a seven-eights of a mile dirt track and was surrounded by farms. There were five large grandstands and a brass band that played marches.

The track had quite a history too. It was owned by Arnold Rothstein, on of America's most notorious gamblers. Many big names were on hand to watch the races. New York's celebrated Mayor Jimmy Walker and some big politicians could be seen in the stands.

This track was called the Metropolitan Heights Fairgrounds. It was built between Maspeth and Middle Village and was promoted by Billy Wellman and Bill Darraugh. Billy Wellman was a flier in the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I and also a race driver.

This track was probably the only track in America on which horses, dogs, autos and motorcycles supplied the action at various times. Night races were held under the illumination of carbon lights, strung around on high poles. They weren't very bright and they flickered but the races went on nevertheless.

The list of race drivers who raced at the Maspeth track was a long and impressive one. One racer was the great Ralph DePalma, then in the closing days of a long and memorable career. Some raced for the first time at Maspeth, I was one of them. Other drivers who drove at one time or another were: Ralph DePalma, Ira Vail, Henry Turgeon, Bill Darraugh, George Wingerter, Rick Decker, Herman Schurch, Ralph Malamud, Milt Marion and Warren Geib.

I was the last one to drive around the old track before it was torn up. Today the only part tha remains is the east turn that was cut into the bank on the high ground.

The race track had two entrances, one on Juniper Avenue (which is now 69th Street) and the other on Dry Harbor Road. It took in quite a bite of land. At one time it almost became an airport. It was marked off for runways east and west, but this never happened.

Thanks to Mr. Storz for such an interesting letter. We always appreciate it when someone takes the time and effort to share some memories with our readers.