Monday, November 19, 2012

Spy in the Sky

The first space satellite was launched several years before the Pine Brook Stadium was built, but the sort of satellite technology that today serves civilians with GPS directions and online maps was not readily available until several years after the track closed.

Here is a Google Earth satellite image of the Pine Brook track from April, 1995, nearly six years after the last race was run, on which the outline of the racing surface is clearly visible.

Click the photo for an enlarged view.

Route 46 is the road extending from the lower left to the upper right, and Bloomfield Avenue is the road across the lower portion of the photo. The warehouses of the Pio Costa industrial park are at the right, across the Passaic River behind the track. These were built on land that was largely vacant – and largely what today we would call “wetlands” – when the track was constructed.

To the left, across Route 46 from the track, we can easily see all the junk cars at G.I. Auto Salvage, which was there before and after the track but which today is gone.

The track office was still standing when this photo was taken, as was the “powerhouse” along the backstretch, but everything else was gone. The bleacher seats disappeared within weeks of the track’s closing in 1989, and the guardrail and the light poles went away soon afterward. At some point before this photo was snapped the rest room building outside of turns three and four was demolished and the old backstage building in the pits, behind the powerhouse, was torn down by this time also.

Now, take a look at this satellite photo, from 2010:

The Home Depot has been built, and the G.I. Auto Salvage property is in the midst of being cleaned up, but the surrounding area looks were much the same.