In 1955, a promoter by the name of Gerry Bisson organized stock car racing around the football field at Lansdowne Park, in Ottawa, Ontario. For the first few years, Bisson ran his program every Wednesday evening for about 15 weeks, beginning in June, of 1955. These races were an instant success, bringing in crowds of 5000 to 7000 people weekly. Admission prices at the time were $1.00 for adults, and .50 cents for children.
By 1956 there were more than 40 cars and drivers registered with the Lansdowne Park Stock Car Club. Many local businesses, mostly from the automotive trade sponsored these cars so their name would gain prominent exposure offered at Lansdowne Park's weekly races.
The cars ran on a dirt oval, originally used for horse racing. These races were so successful, that in 1957 Bisson decided to make some major improvements to the facility. He lengthened the track from 1/4 mile to 1/3 mile, widened the track by 40ft, increased the banking and paved the track so they could race "rain or shine". They also began to run Saturday programs, and the stock car races became a special feature during the Central Canada Exhibition.(CCE).
For three more seasons, Lansdowne Speedway was one of Eastern Ontario's top racing venues. They would attract cars from Quebec, and even upper New York State. Most vehicles that raced at the track were well used up. Coupes and coaches from the 1930s were very common. The entertainment that these cars demonstrated was undeniable.
The directors of the CCE loved the races, and made more rent money from the automobile races than they did for Ottawa Rough Riders CFL football games. It was reported that back in the late 50's, the CCE would make $13000 per season off the racing at Lansdowne Park.
Unfortunatley, the local residents were less enthusiastic with the racing. Cars raced without mufflers for additional speed, and once the track was paved, they could run much faster.
Intense lobbying from the neighbors brought racing at Lansdowne Park to a close. The last event was held on August 17, 1960. Gerry Bisson moved the racing to the Capital City Speedway in Stittsville, Ontario, just west of the nations capital of Ottawa.
LANSDOWNE PARK SPEEDWAY PHOTOS
LANSDOWNE PARK SPEEDWAY TRACK CHAMPIONS