After a recent post here about the Briggs Cunningham’s DOHC Frontenac Ford “T” sprint car, information has come to light about many of the details surrounding the car. Racing historian Michael Ferner has identified the driver as “Ed” Coffey and the builder of the car as well. Michael tells us:
“The Cunningham-Fronty was built by R.T. Jackson of Dayton, Ohio. See the article in “Speedway Magazine,” March 1933, covering the car. It was driven by Ed Coffey of Connecticut while owned by Cunningham, and perhaps others. Cunningham sold the car to Gil Pirrung of Missouri the following year, who had Doc MacKenzie, Billy Devore and Babe Stapp drive the car. In 1936 he sold it to Joel Thorne.”
Reader Carl Schultz took the identification of John “Ed” Coffey as the driver a bit further and contacted his son, Edward Coffey, who has written a book titled A Glimpse of Old Monroe (Connecticut). In it, Coffey included the newspaper article with two photos from October 16, 1933 about the inaugural event at the track you see at the top of this post. The bottom photo was clearly shot in the same setting as in our earlier post on the car.
As often happens in this field, the answer to one question often brings information to light that might be helpful in another’s research. Publisher and racing historian Joseph Freeman, who is working on a book about the racing Duesenberg’s, has asked if anyone can provide further information about Fred Meyer’s No. 44 Duesenberg from Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Monroe Speedway appears to have been a short-lived operation, as it is not mentioned in any of the books covering old racetracks that we have come across. Can any of our readers tell us more about the track and how long it remained in operation?
*Update* Thanks to reader Kevin Daily who has sent us the photo above and the information below about the track:
“My information came directly from my extensive correspondence with Lois Hurd-Hayden. Lois is Ben’s daughter and was the little girl who sat on her daddy’s lap bulldozing all those old Yankee stonewalls into the trenches. She has little memory of the active days of the track, other than perhaps selling hot dogs to those in attendance, but she certainly still remembers transforming the track it into the airport in the late 30’s.
Just below is an aerial image of Monroe Speedway taken in April of 1934. You can see what appears to be the flag man’s podium on the eastern straightaway at the mid-track infield. I sent this image to Lois about five years back and she was floored. She’d never seen the image before, nor had our Historical Society or Historian. It caused quite a stir within the Hurd Family and she still stays in touch from time to time from her home in Florida. The speedway/track is a cemetery today but you can still see the northern curve of the track in the grass if you know where to look, and the eastern straightaway is a quiet walking/bike path in the woods.
Remnants of the smaller Huntington Speedway just a mile to the Southeast are also still visible if you know where to look.