AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – The Daytona 500 took place Sunday and though the race is being held in Florida, many local fans were excited for it.
Sunday marks the 61st annual running of the Daytona 500 also known as “The Great American Race.”
Though NASCAR Nation will have its focus on the World Center of Racing Sunday, fans in western Massachusetts remember the days when racing took place on a much shorter track in Agawam.
Riverside Park Speedway was the place to be for racing fans from all over the Northeast for about 50 years.
Matt Wiernasz is an auto racing journalist and photographer who has fond memories of watching the races at Riverside.
“It was an atmosphere like no other. You had the amusement park and people would go there then they would go to the races. A lot of guys from all over the region would come and race,” Wiernasz said. “They would say Riverside was like no other, just a very special place to watch racing and I just have a lot of memories going to the park.”
Though Riverside Park is gone, the passion for racing is still alive in Western Massachusetts.
Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut and Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire are just some of the local options within driving distance.
Wiernasz said the races become weekend-long events for dedicated fans.
“They’ll go to the stuff on Friday with qualifying and see some of the Saturday races and stay to see some of the stuff on Sunday, so it definitely shows racing still has a huge following in this area,” he said.