Stock cars, midget cars and micro cars. There were race cars of all shapes and sizes inside Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson last Sunday. I have to admit that we were equally as interested in the cars as we were to see inside historic Hinchliffe Stadium.
My family has quite a history of athletic performance here. My dad and brother both played football in the stadium and my sister ran track here. Some of the running track was still evident as was the long jump pit and pole vault box.
Of course, my family competed there before the Paterson School Board (who still owns the stadium) had the money to keep it maintained. They officially closed the stadium at the end of the 1996-97 school year. It’s run into hard times but there’s so much history (including racing cars) that lots of people are interested in saving Hinchliffe.
Hinchliffe is one of the few remaining Negro League venues that is still standing. That alone should be reason enough to keep it standing. There was some evidence of that part of its past when we spied some painted logos around the concrete inside.
Hinchliffe hosted the 1933 Colored Championship of the Nation, the Negro League equivalent of the World Series. The New York Black Yankees made the stadium their home, a tenure that lasted almost continuously between 1934 to 1945. The stadium also held home games for the New York Cubans in 1935 and 1936.
In addition to Negro League baseball, Hinchliffe also held boxing matches, stock and midget car racing, professional football and soccer games, many years-worth of Paterson’s high school football games and it was an event venue for stars like Abbott and Costello and Duke Ellington.
It’s got an amphitheater seating arrangement with seats surrounding about half of the stadium. The other end is open and is said to have some stunning views of the escarpment over Paterson’s Great Falls and into the valley below. Unfortunately, all the seating is closed off so we didn’t get to check out the view up there.
The Hinchliffe Stadium Racing Expo is in its ninth year and it was very well-attended despite some drizzling rain. There were food vendors and t-shirts sales near the entrance and about three big rows of all kinds of cars lined up to race or just show off.
From 10am to noon, spectators walked the rows and checked out all the vintage cars. The were beautiful, even on the dreary grey day. At noon, they all got ready to race. Micro cars went first. How did those men fit inside these cars?
Then, the midget cars ran.
And finally, the stock cars ran the track.
After each group went once, they kept taking turned with each different class of cars until 4pm. It was a really fun time and very well run by hosts Hinchliffe Stadium Motor Racing Association.
If you’re interested in seeing what people are doing to try and save Hinchliffe, check out Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium here.
Click through all the pictures from our day in Hinchliffe:
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