Pinecrest Speedway (1952 – 1976)

Concord, Ontario

Pinecrest Speedway aerial 1972. Courtesy of the Pinecrest Program

Pinecrest Speedway Track Facts

Joe Cappy and Norm (Smitty) Smith bought the property from Charlie Greenley in 1952 for $28,000. On this 28-acre site they built the third Pinecrest, a quarter- mile paved oval. Cappy and Smith had operated Oakwood Stadium at the corner of Oakwood and St. Clair in 1951, but the city would not issue permits and they were receiving fines weekly. Oakwood Stadium only operated as a race track for that one season.

Pinecrest Speedway was as legendary as a speedway can get. All of the big name drivers of the era raced there at one point in their career: Howie Scannell, Tom Milligan, Jack Cook, Don Biederman, Ken Weisbrod, Jr. Hanley, Norm Lelliot,  George Reuffer, Bill Burrows, and  Vic Parsons (to name a few).

Pinecrest had grandstands all the way around the tight quarter-mile oval. Most of the stands were covered. Although the city of Toronto would not agree, Oakwood Stadium had been a success for Cappy and Smith so they often advertised 1952 events as “Oakwood Stadium Presents Pinecrest.” Their success continued in the new location: they were bringing in 2500 to 4000 spectators on a regular basis.

Over the years many different divisions raced at Pinecrest, including Modifieds, Supermodifieds, Hobby’s, Midgets, Late Models, Stockers, Powder Puff races (female drivers), Daredevils, and stunt drivers to name a few.

Prior to the 1954 season, Cappy and Smitty poured a new concrete track surface. Pinecrest would now be considered Canada’s only all-weather racetrack. In October 1954, Hurricane Hazel destroyed approximately 400 feet of the west grandstand.

Some of the top drivers from the early years were Ivan Moore, Jack Cook, Jack Burbridge, Glenn Schurr, Ben Lalomia, Tony Occhino, and Ted Hogan. Ivan Moore won 10 features in a row in 1954, earning him the Carling’s Points Championship.

There were a lot of crashes on this tight track. Most drivers walked away, but this was not always the case. Bill Clemons of Mashawaka, Indiana was practicing for the 1957 International when his throttle stuck; the car hit the wall and burst into flames. Bill died a few weeks later due to his injuries.

The cars were referred to as Modified Stock Cars in the late 1950’s. Not unlike their counterparts from the CNE, these cars were the forerunners to today’s Supermodifieds. Jack Greedy, Norm Mackereth, Jim Hallahan, Mac Bound, Dave Stephenson, Bill Cromb, and Jerry Watson came to Pinecrest in the late 1950s.

Vaughan Township revoked Pinecrest’s license to operate early in the 1962 season due to failure to meet the terms of previous agreements. Fortunately, everything was sorted out in time to run the annual international race in September.

Once again in 1963, Pinecrest changed hands – but wait, these new owners looked familiar. Joe Cappy and Norm Smith were in charge once again. The west grandstand that had been destroyed by Hurricane Hazel was rebuilt for the 1963 season.

1963 was the year of change. Pinecrest dropped the Modified division and picked up the Late Model division (the CNE Modifieds still ran Pinecrest on Tuesday nights during football season). While some of the veterans changed to Late Models, there were a lot of new faces in the mix. This era saw Jerry and Bob Watson, Phil Zampino, Vic Parsons, Jim Hallahan, George Reuffer, Ross Howes, Gord Dolphin, Ray Gullison and Norm Lelliott as the top drivers.

Wednesday night racing was added at Pinecrest in 1964. In the mid 1960’s there was a claim rule at Pinecrest: the claim was set at $500 for the entire car less the tires.

Joe Cappy and Norm Smith made a lot of improvements for the 1968 season, especially a new three-foot outer wall all around the track. Also, there was all-new lighting in the infield. The claim rule was dropped altogether in 1968.

Norm Smith sold his share of Pinecrest to Joe Cappy at the end of the 1969 season. In turn, Joe Cappy sold the Speedway to the DiCarlo family for $600,000 in February 1972. Rocco DiCarlo was the track promoter from 1972 until the final night of the 1976 season.

The Export “A” Championship series made several visits to Pinecrest in the 1970s, as did the Carling O’Keefe Championship series. Carlings Breweries sponsored the Red Cap points fund, as they had for many previous years. The race fans were awesome as there were 10,000 to 15,000 people at each event.

Daytona Don Biederman started his racing career at Pinecrest. Other top drivers in the final years were Howie Scannell, Tom Milligan, Tom Cuzzilla, George Reuffer, Doug Warnes, Junior Hanley, Bill Zardo, Phil Zampino, and Norm Lelliot.

The top drivers in the Stocker division were John Fletcher Sr., Kenny Logan, George Simms, Lambert Yake, and John Buchanon. Stockers were basically old Late Models from earlier years.

In early August 1976, it was announced that the races on August 14th would be the last races “EVER” at Pinecrest. The land had been sold for approximately $2,000,000 and would be redeveloped for commercial uses.

Most people didn’t know that Pinecrest had actually been sold in the early 1970s. The track was leased from the developer until 1976, when the developer wanted to build. The last race at Pinecrest was won by # 23 Tom Milligan. It was also Tom Milligan who won the 1976 Points Championship.