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As It Was: Klamath Falls Auto Racing Has On-and-Off History

Excitement was high in Klamath Falls in May 1965 at the opening of an expanded auto race track at the old Klamath Speedway. A new grandstand offered seating to 5,000 spectators.

Automobile racing in Klamath Falls had been on-and-off in the years leading up to the opening of the refurbished speedway.

Some of the earliest races were held in the 1920s and 30s at the Klamath County Fair. Collisions always added to the thrill for the crowds, even though one mishap claimed the life of a young spectator in 1936.

Later races moved to the field inside the Klamath Gems baseball stadium.

Finally in the 1950s, the town’s first-ever dedicated auto racing facility opened in a field that had previously served as a rifle range for Moose Lodge members.

The speedway’s renovation in 1965 was designed to accommodate growing numbers of racing enthusiasts, but disputes among racetrack operators prevented its long-term success. By the 1970s, races drew smaller crowds and the half-mile, oval track closed. The grandstands are now gone, but the track remains at the east end of Eberlein Avenue.

Only jackrabbits race there today.

Sources: Evening Herald 7 Oct. 1922 [Klamath Falls, Ore.] : 1. Print; Herald and News 28 May 1955, 25 April 1965, 28 April 1971 [Klamath Falls, Ore.] Print.

Todd Kepple has been a Klamath Basin resident since 1990. He was a reporter and editor the for the Herald and News from 1990 to 2005, and has been manager of the Klamath County Museum since 2005. He enjoys volunteering at Crater Lake National Park, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also a founding member of the Klamath Tree League.