Longacres Racetrack is long gone. The property was sold to Boeing and demolished in the early 90s. Clyde Furd sent me a note on why the track was closed in response to my original research that it had falling attendance. Here is what he told me which makes a lot more sense.
As I recall it was some other financial shenanigans by the younger members of the Alhadeff family that backfired and they had used the track as collateral or else had mortgaged it to the hilt to finance these other ventures. This idea is enhanced by the fact that Emerald Downs opened just three years after Longacres closed and in fact leased Longacres for two years after the Alhadeff’s sold the property to Boeing. Emerald Downs has been operating for 22 years now, something that simply would not have happened if there was waning interest in the sport.
It was originally built on the outskirts of Renton, Washington in the 1930s. It had a great run but now there is very little left of it. Most folks assume it is all gone except some old parking areas and building foundations. You can see the old track in google photos still but on the ground it is harder to tell it even existed.
I work in Renton and started using a back road to get home when I-405 is backed up. This route takes me under the freeway and avoids some long traffic lights to get across Grady at either Lind or Oaksdale. On 16th SW one just drives west along the edge of the Boeing campus. You come to a stop sign and veer to the right.
The easiest way to go is just to the left but if one jags onto a spur of Monster Road you will be right between two existing pieces of Longacres. They are the old entrance units.
The freeway was built over the top of these roads and Longacres forgotten entrance units. Perhaps that has protected them from destruction when all else was torn down. Here is a snip of the Google map showing where this is. You can also see what I mean by the aerial view shows the old racetrack still exists.
The next set of photos are from two trips I made to document these neglected jewels. On my second trip while I was taking my photos a bicyclist stopped and asked me if those had always been there. He had passed many times and never noticed. We had a good discussion about the old racetrack and the Green River Trail which I documented in this blog last year.
First this photo is how you would enter the racetrack if you came to visit and play. The one on the left is cleaner I think due to being completely under the freeway. The right one is overgrown with blackberries and other growth. It isn’t under the freeway so it gets water for the vegetation.
Here is a close up of the unit that is in better condition. Was it a planter? or did it have a gas burning torch? For some reason I think it was a flame but I have no proof of that. This photo is a favorite of mine since it shows the dynamics of the freeway overhead. Optically it has a lot going on.
Now lets see what they look like from the north and south views.
Under the freeway is a concrete slab. Wonder what this was? A building? a bit of parking? I did a search for photos of this area of the track but could not find any. I am going to see if a couple of contacts I have can help us and will add that if found. What I did find was an old postcard on Flickr. This was taken by Jerry Clark and is posted on Track Walker. I circled where these units are under I-405.
On my first photo opt I parked basically in the middle of Monster Road with my flashers on. This area is next to some construction being done to shore up the railroad right-a-way. This is a narrow road with no shoulder or area to walk. Had to stay alert for sure.
Have an update to share with everyone. The Renton Museum posted this blog post on its Facebook site. I got the following picture from Bill Taylor. Here is what he said about the picture too. Thanx a million Bill!!
Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos, has been the track photographer at Longacres, Churchill Downs and many other well known tracks, sent a few pictures that faintly show it in the background and he is searching his archives for more.
Look closely inside the red square and you can see the relics under the freeway. Good stuff for sure!!
UPDATE!!! Entrance Units are now sharing their space with a SkatePark. Spent some time down there this weekend (Dec 2017) talking to the skaters. I am worried that the Relics could get bulldozed if the WDOT decide to remove the skate park. One of the skaters told me that he had climbed into the unit…. wait for it…. he said it is dated 1964!!
Here is my follow up article with new pictures and more info. The adventure continues on the trail of Longacres Ruins and History.