The “Dust Bowl”

272203576_262052952626905_7151276826302950332_n - Mark Shadwell
Mark Shadwell

Hamiltons Dirty Little Secret

There are many tracks in Southern Ontario that have come and gone. Ovals such as the CNE, Checkered Flag (Windsor), and Speedway Park have been getting traction lately. Most of these tracks are dearly missed. Unfortunately the Dust Bowl is not one of them. The actual racing was very little to write about. Why and how stock cars ended up in a hidden ravine located in rural Stoney Creek is the real story.

To begin with, why? It is believed that a local motorcycle shop used the hidden ravine located at Barton and Lake Avenue as a test ground for their bikes. It is assumed that the bikers carved out their own track after it was repeatedly used.

Enter J.P. Macdonald., he was a race promoter, a.k.a Canada’s answer to Bill France. He was helping manage Mohawk Park (Brantford) and brought racing to the Ancaster Fairgrounds. His idea was to have a three track circuit.

The Dust Bowl was very primitive, even by 1950s standards. There was no electricity or even grandstands. Spectators brought blankets and sat on the side of the hill. J.P. opened Ancaster and the Dust Bowl both in 1951. The Dust Bowl had to wait until July to open because there was no lighting and ran on Thursday nights from after supper until dark.

The Dust Bowl ran 6-8 events in 1951 only. The drivers did not like it. Ken Andrews described it as very small, very rough and as advertised very dusty. Rumours of Bill Greathead operating the track was an inside joke. Bill owned 5 of the cars that raced there but wasn’t involved in managing it.

It’s a mystery if J.P. or the bike shop for that matter paid any rent to the town of Stoney Creek. Whether the local authorities even knew cars were racing in a hidden ravine is still in question.

J.P. moved on and got involved promoting Bridgeport Speedway (Kitchener) keeping his three track circuit alive temporarily. Due to public pressure, Ancaster and Mohawk were shut down by the mid 1950s.

Just as an aside, motorcycle enthusiasts used the ravine for trail riding many years after. Calling it the Dust Bowl not knowing why and oblivious that cars ever raced there.

272520145_1036831280231953_2295457129994463977_n - The Dust Bowl Hamilton Courtesy of Mark Shadwell
The Dust Bowl Hamilton – (Lake Avenue and Barton Street) – Courtesy of Mark Shadwell
272364745_1036831296898618_4629557424825771600_n (1) - Bob Banyard #2X4 and brother Albert Banyard in the #82 at the Dust Bowl Courtesy of Mark Shadwell
Bob Banyard #2X4 and brother Albert Banyard in the #82 at the Dust Bowl in Hamilton- Courtesy of Mark Shadwell
By Mark Shadwell