At ‘This Place in History’, we’re in Milton with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins on a very windy day.
“We’re still talking racing and of course, good racers are going to race in any conditions, even in the wind, but at least it’s sunny. So we’re in Milton and we’re going to be talking about Catamount Racetrack,” began Perkins.
“We are standing right in the infield of the Catamount Speedway, but as you can see, it’s not a racetrack anymore. It’s one of Vermont’s lost tracks. It was in business from 1965 to 1987.”
Several types of cars raced at Catamount during this stretch, many familiar to fans of Thunder Road.
“From coupes in the early days, up through flying tigers which are probably most famous here, to the late models. It was a NASCAR track in the late 70s and early 80s.”
Responsible for the construction of the track, no surprise here, Ken Squier and crew.
“When we think of this track, we think of the Dragon brothers, Beaver and Bobby Dragon, Jean-Paul Cabana, later on Robbie Crouch, Dave Dion raced here a little bit. So those are some of these names, even Kevin Lepage, who made his name in the full NASCAR tour later on in life, raced here as well,” said Perkins.
“In its first year open, it had a live mountain lion as its mascot. They said, how can we really advertise this and so went out and bought a mountain lion from a game park and towed the poor thing around in a cage for the first year. Ultimately, I think that didn’t work out so well . It was sent back to the game park, but this park had its own mountain lion or catamount.”
Perhaps most famously, right before the track closed, popular driver Beaver Dragon crashed his car on a practice lap.
“And it went up in the air and it flipped over and over and over again before finally coming down. Everyone in the stadium just went deathly quiet and thought at the end of this track, we also see the end of one our most famous drivers. He crawled out unhurt, they towed the car off and he got in the backup car and actually competed in the race. It’s one of those things where every racing fan in Vermont said I was there, I remember that,” said Perkins.
“This is now the Catamount Industrial Park. But coming soon on June 9th, we’re going to have a dedication ceremony for a green historic marker talking about the famous Catamount Stadium,” concluded Perkins.
At ‘This Place in History’!
For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.
To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic markers, click here.
For more information about visiting Anything for Speed: Automobile Racing in Vermont, click here.