Jackson Sports Arena - 1/4 mile Dirt (1959-1967)

Hwy 49 North, Jackson Mississippi

History of the Jackson Sports Arena

As told by Jack Brown "Mississippi Racing Historian": The Jackson Speedway (1958) and Jackson Sports Arena (1959-1967) were different dirt tracks in the same location (HWY 49 North). Originally there was a quarter mile asphalt drag strip there. Guy Burroughs and Lewis Traweek built the thing on the site of an old horse race track. The covered grandstand was built during the Horse Track days . The drag strip opened to big crowds, they even had some of the dirt track cars like 248 and 631 come out to drag race. Chicken McComb put transmissions in them and Ival Cooper raced them on the drag strip. I think I remember Ellis Palasini even trying it a time or two. The dirt track racers probably convinced the owners to build the 1/2 mile dirt track adjacent to the drag strip. They called it the Jackson Speedway. It only raced a few times, as it had no lights and ran only on Sunday afternoons. Then C.E. Smith got the lease from Jimmy Fowler and cut the track down to 1/4 mile. He kept the old 1 and 2 turns and built a new turn 3 and 4. He put up lights and raced on Saturday nights. He renamed the track to the Jackson Sports Arena. C.E. lived at the track for a while in a trailer. He used the drag strip as a runway for his airplane. He parked it in a home made hanger under the bleachers. He had ideas of some day turning the property into an amusement park, even bought a few old carnival rides that stayed parked on the back of the race track parking lot for years. He opened the Arena Club under the grandstand and it was a wild place. But he was making money there and junked the amusement park idea. Don't know what became of those old rides.

Go kart popularity came up, so he built a small dirt oval in the middle of the quarter mile track. That’s where I made my first ever race attempt in a home made go kart. Pat Patrick helped me tune it that Sunday afternoon but it just would not run right. Then C.E. created a paved kart track directly in front of the grandstands, using the drag strip as the back stretch and paving a series of right and left turns directly in front of the grandstand. Karts from all over the state raced there on Sundays and sometimes on Friday nights. Dirt Track racers like Bobby Harrell, Curley Walters, L.D. Phillips, W.L Bonner and Chicken McComb all raced karts there. Yazoo Mower Company began to manufacture karts and had an actual factory team with drivers Bob Doolittle and Buzz Haffey who ran all over the south for Yazoo karts. Bob also drove a Studebaker in the jalopy class for W.L. Bonner.

He and Doc Bass built a 49 Ford jalopy car, dabbed paint all over it and wrote "the spotted ape" on the doors. Doc hired a friend of mine to drive it and told him he'd give him $50 to flip the car during the jalopy races to add some excitement. But C.E. didn't want the Ford turned up. My friend really need the $50 so he built another car, a 49 Plymouth which he named 'the 7th Son" He flipped it first. The brittle water pipe roll bars all broke out and the top was so flat the old boy could hardly get out of it. It scared him so bad he quite driving. “The 7th Son” was scrapped, and the last time I saw “The Spotted Ape” it was sitting beside C.E.'s airplane under the makeshift hanger.

Asphalt racing gained popularity and C.E and Fowler pursued their interest in Jackson International Speedway, leaving the Sports Arena to be torn down by Fowler. It eventually became Presidential Hills subdivision. The main entrance street to the subdivision is roughly located on the old drag strip site. So there's your history lesson for today.

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(30 second Video - 650KB - Best viewed in Windows Media Player)


Jackson Sports Arena Time Trials and Racing Results

May 2, 1964 and May 14, 1964



This is Dad's membership card and button for the Mississippi Racing Assn


Emergency Services at Jackson Sports Arena

This is the one ride at the track that no driver wants to take....