Friday, October 4, 2019

An Anniversary to Note

by Bob Marlow

Pine Brook Stadium operated for 28 summers, 1962 through 1989.  But it has now been gone longer than it was there.  It’s final race came 30 years ago this week, on Friday night, October 6, 1989.

I was there for the first race, on July 6, 1962, but I missed the last one.  I was on a Caribbean cruise, a freebie that my then-girlfriend won at work, but I had no concerns about missing the last race of the season.  The track was supposed to operate for an additional Friday, October 13.

Property owner Anthony Pio Costa had other ideas.  For whatever reason, on race day he informed track operator Jack Bellinato that this was to be it.  Word spread quickly, and the group photo shown here was made that night.

(Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

As the son of the track’s builder and as someone who spent nearly every Friday night there for those 28 racing seasons, I have mixed emotions.  Anthony Pio Costa had ambitions to develop the property, and indeed a Home Depot occupies the site today.  But it took ten years for the necessary approvals to be obtained, ten years during which the track could have continued to operate.

Yet, by 1989 the TQ Midgets had outgrown the track, so maybe it was time.

The closure of Pine Brook was a key contributor to a long, slow decline in the ATQMRA, which today exists as a sorry shell of what it was in the 1970s and 1980s.  The loss of other good TQ tracks, such as Dorney Park, Freeport, Islip, and Riverside Park, contributed as well.  It’s a shame all around.

Raise a glass to Pine Brook this Sunday, 30 years to the day since its last race.