Alan Carlson – Researching Albuquerque Auto Racing History

Photo of Speedway Park
Speedway Park, c. 1950

Albuquerque native and historian, Alan Carlson, has been recognized with an Albuquerque History Accolade for researching the history of local auto racing, creating a collection of documents and photos for presentation and preservation. His love of the sport began as a youngster when he attended auto races with his parents. While he initially focused his research on the post-World War II era, he discovered that Albuquerque’s rich auto racing history went much further back.

Alan’s early Albuquerque auto racing research began with Eddie Corbin, whose late father, Clarke, was one of the owners of Cormit Speedway, a Midget auto racing track built in 1946. Eddie provided a scanned copy of his scrapbook and some valuable details. Alan found more information about midget auto racing, and the drivers who had raced at Cormit, on various websites. Diane Schaller of Historic Albuquerque Inc. provided newspaper articles on local auto racing activities from 1907 to mid-1950. He also obtained photos and information from Frank Crosby’s book, “They Call Me Mr. Terrific“, Carlos Garcia (Garcia Auto Group), fellow racing historian, Joe Sherwood and visits with Lisa and Bobby Unser.

Photo of Buddy Taylor
Buddy Taylor at Cormit Speedway c. 1948
(Photo courtesy of the Garcia-Canfield Collection)

Laura Gleasner, at the Earth Data Analysis Center at UNM, found important aerial photos showing the locations of local tracks. While there were numerous, short-lived tracks, and auto races at the old fairgrounds, the important facilities were Navajo Speedway (later called First American Speedway; 1926-1940), Cormit Speedway (later called Sandia Stadium; 1947-1954), Rio Grande Sports Bowl (1948-1950) and Speedway Park (1950-1981).

Alan continues to document Albuquerque auto racing history, including Albuquerque / Duke City Raceway (1968-2004), and he hopes to get the city to honor the early drivers, promoters and track owners with an ALBUQUERQUE AUTO RACING PIONEERS Award, Hall of Fame or Proclamation.

There is more about early Albuquerque auto racing, plus comments from Bobby Unser, in “Fans packed Albuquerque’s early racetracks in 1950s” by Elaine D. Briseño in the March 18, 2018 Albuquerque Journal. (Titled “Early Albuquerque Enjoyed Need for Speed” in the print edition.)

Old newspaper advertisement
Advertisement in the Albuquerque Journal, September 13, 1930

View other Albuquerque History Accolades.