Circle M Ranch Speedway comes back to life annually for Eddie Mates Memorial Racers’ Reunion

Scott Kerschner of Bernville broadsides through the turn in his immaculate 1962 CAE sprint car.
Scott Kerschner of Bernville broadsides through the turn in his immaculate 1962 CAE sprint car. Submitted photo - Carl Hess
Back in the saddle again, 90-year-old Leroy Felty from Jonestown, a seven-time winner at the Circle M Ranch Speedway back in the 1950s, shows that he still knows how to get around a clay oval in this restored sprint car.
Back in the saddle again, 90-year-old Leroy Felty from Jonestown, a seven-time winner at the Circle M Ranch Speedway back in the 1950s, shows that he still knows how to get around a clay oval in this restored sprint car. Submitted photo - Carl Hess

The Circle M Ranch Speedway ran weekly stock car races from 1955 through the 1958 season. The Auburn racetrack closed down nearly 60 years ago but once a year it comes back to life for the annual “Eddie Mates Memorial” Racers’ Reunion. May 12 was the date for this year’s resurrection.

Last year Circle M’s May event succumbed to the weather and had to be rescheduled for September. Mother Nature tried to intervene once again this year but racers and their fans are a hardy lot. Despite heavy overnight/early morning rains and a somewhat swampy infield, 37 cars and approximately 750 people braved the elements for a Saturday at the 1/3 mile clay oval. Also on hand was veteran starter Galen Kohler handling the flags, Hamburg’s Lee Brisan, who raced at the Reading Fairgrounds, flagged the third turn, Billy Gentle, engine builder for many of the cars in the pits and John Marks, Eastern Museum of Motor Racing board member handling the pit line up.

The track itself was near perfect and required absolutely no grooming from the time the first cars hit the oval until the last of the day’s racers were loaded up and trailered back home.

Among the race car drivers participating was 90 year-old Leroy Felty of Jonestown. Felty, who has raced and won all over the east coast, had seven Circle M Ranch Speedway victories to his credit when the track was in existence.

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Traveling the farthest to take some laps in their vintage racers were Frank Walka of Broonton, NJ and his lady friend Marcia Barker of Bucksport, Maine.

The Circle M Ranch Speedway Racers’ Reunion is an annual event. Next year’s get together is tentatively scheduled for May 11th, the second Saturday in May.