Windsor Jockey Club Grandstand – 1912

September 14, 2012

    The new Windsor race track grandstand is shown herewith. It is said to be the largest and finest equipped grandstand in Canada. It is of steel construction on a cement and brick foundation, the brickwork being carried up to form the first story. The stand is 340 feet in length and 70 feet in depth, being more than twice the size of the old one. The seating capacity will be about 5,000. There are two galleries running the full length of the stand. The general contractors were Vintor & Co., of Detroit. The track owners, the Windsor Fair Grounds & Driving Park association, are contemplating an invitation to H. R. H. the Duke of Connaught to open the new stand at the first meeting in July.

The grandstand stood until 1957, when it burned down in a spectacular fire:

A parks and recreation pick up truck parked in the garage bays under the grandstand caught fire due to faulty wiring in the truck. Within an hour the entire grandstand and bandshell were engulfed…

24 Responses to Windsor Jockey Club Grandstand – 1912

  1. RED on September 14, 2012 at 5:32 am

    I remember sitting in that grandstand as a child. I also remember seeing the smoke from our house where the E C Row Expressway is now. However, if it hadnt burned I am sure they would have tore it down anyway.

  2. JeffS on September 14, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Unless the building had been altered over the years I’m kind of surprised something made of “steel construction on a cement and brick foundation” could burn like that?

  3. Shawn on September 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    The fire did what Windsor would have done eventually anyways. Maybe jumped the gun by 30 years or so…

  4. Freeman on September 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Have any plans been announced yet for leveling the recently defunct WIndsor Raceway? Or maybe they can stucco it?

  5. Orlando on September 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Freeman,
    Oh God,
    If they were to stucco it ,it is better to tear the raceway down then do that.It would be a total insult to the building.
    Does anybody know if this is the same grandstand that was by the Kennedy high school?If it is ,I thought the grandstand came down earlier then that.
    I’am thinking 1930’s.Correct me if iam wrong.

  6. RED on September 15, 2012 at 5:27 am

    still cant beleive they closed the raceway, I was sitting on a horse watching them build it only yesterday, hmmm maybe I should get out before they realize I am old!!

  7. Lanny on September 15, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Anyone who grew up in Jackson Park knew every inch of the grandstand, esp. the ground floor: our “soupy’s” equipment was stored in a room there; we drank at her water fountains; a confectionary store sold pop and chips and creamsicles. A rink was flooded on the Pelissier St. and we skated or played shinny hockey there day and evenings and the store sold hot chocolate. After the firemen and UAW picnics, we’d scavange the seats looking for dropped coins. It seemed always cool and breezy sitting in the seats on the hottest of Windsor summers. What a great place to rest and talk for kids. We raced to the park to watch the fire and the next day we could hardly believe our grandstand was gone and with it a large part of our childhood!

  8. Hal Sullivan on September 15, 2012 at 10:08 am

    We were a group teenaged buddies from Walkerville Collegiate playing pickup baseball on a hot and sunny afternoon at Memorial Park on Ypres Blvd. in the second week of July, 1957, when we saw thick black smoke rising to the west. We hopped on our bicycles (mine was a balloon tire Schwinn….it cost $35!) and pedalled frantically toward Jackson Park. What we witnessed was one of the most intense fires I’ve ever seen, and I was a volunteer firefighter in the former Sandwich West Twp. for 15 years and a CBC news reporter for 26 years….including being in the thick of the Detroit riots of 1967 for two days. The Jackson Park grandstand was fully engulfed and there were swirling fire “tornadoes” between the grandstand and the bandshell. These quickly destroyed the bandstand as well. To a kid who was not quite 16 the whole thing was an exciting adventure and I haven’t forgotten a single detail of it to this day.

  9. gary on September 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    They could use the track at windsor raceway to hold car races they talked about building one out near comber that never materializedbut then people living in the area would probably bitch about the noise would be a shame to just knock it all down knowing windsor if they get their little ferrette paws on it they will probably sell it to some developer and he’ll build houses on it more green space in Essex county lost

  10. gary on September 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

    It would be nice if they converted the windsor raceway track into car racing they were gonna build a track near Comber a few years back but i guess those plans fell by the wayside But!! knowing Windsor if they get there paws on it they will just turn around and sell it to some out of town developer to put up a new subdivision so another piece of windsor’s already sparce green space will be lost gotta add to the tax base what a crock!!

  11. Bill on September 16, 2012 at 11:23 am

    nascar sucks

  12. Jack Hoffa on September 16, 2012 at 11:24 am

    agreed bill, between horse racing and f1 theres really nothing of appeal that we could make here. Nascar caters only to rednecks and we have enough of those in Windsor. Now if we got some real high class racing down at the Raceway, that would not be bad.

  13. Jonathan on September 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    A bit off-topic, but I’m curious – what would be considered the last single-family house still standing in downtown Windsor? If I remember correctly, there are a few very old homes still on Goyeau after exiting the tunnel. Does anyone know the history of the very old homes that would have been in downtown?

  14. David on September 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Windsor used to have drag racing strips. Don’t know why they got rid of them. Now, the nearest one is in St. Thomas. You should raise it with your councilor if you think it’s a good idea to convert Windsor raceway into one. Windsor still has a lot of car shows and car clubs and I’m sure it would get a lot of use. It would also make the city safer as people could go to a designated area to drag race. But, not enough people are contacting their councilors about it.

  15. Richard McIntyre on September 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    The city of Windsor does not own or control the Windsor Raceway, so the people to contact are the track owners about its future. I do not think the city would want to get involved with race tracks or dragstrips, this is something for private developers to do.
    The talk of any type of racing or noise would upset Lasalle they would complain about to much noise or traffic, like they did a couple years ago about retail developement near them.

  16. Shawn on September 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Could always re-open the Fairplay drag strip. That plot of land is owned by Tecumseh, and they’re doing NOTHING with it.
    Keep the woodlot to the East of it, turn it into trails, and re-open the drag strip.
    It’s ridiculous Essex County doesn’t have one. Windsor Raceway could be another option as some of you have previously stated. We gotta start re-using!!

  17. Owen Klein on September 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I have some nice text on Hendrie and Parmer bringing the steelwork and other basics from the Grosse Point Track to accomodate the crowds of bettors-mostly from the States.Hope to use this pic in “the book.”

  18. Dave on September 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Jonathan, there are still a lot of single family homes in downtown. I live in one as do a few others who visit this site.

    I would love for a thoroughbred horse track to be made here. But it will never happen. Heck even a new checker flag at Windsor Raceway would be nice but that isn’t going to happen either.

    The Comber track didn’t get built because of two reasons. 1) a landowner kept stalling and upping the price. 2) the municipality kept giving them (the developers) the run around (or so I have been told by insiders).

  19. gary on September 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Bill i wasn’t referring NASCAR

  20. gary on September 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Bill i assume you have a better use for the racetrack than us rednecks do thats the trouble with windsor ….nothing to do!!

  21. steve on September 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    windsor raceway will be the future home to a walmart, with nowhere to build a big box on malden, itll be just down sprucewood at the old raceway location. I believe they have already been rezoning piece by piece.

  22. Brad Morrison on September 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Just found some slides of when this structure was still burning.

  23. wayne on October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    the Comber race track was not stalled by the land owners, the group that wanted to build already owned the land. he was trying to buy out a few opposing neighbors though. I was part of a group that got to ride our snowmobiles around the property for hours while they drove around and tested the db levels. a group of sleds is louder than cars. it was pretty clsoe to happening but what ultimately killed that was the martin government wanted him to pay to rebuild the interchange at 401 and highway 77 at an insane cost. The group eventually gave up and bought a drag strip in michigan which they are still operating.

    Also ive heard a rumor that a new mega hospital may go where the raceway is. I doubt car racing would ever happen there though it could be a hit if done right. All of the housing south of the track is relatively new and theres just no way auto racing would happen there.

    With the loss of the horse track there ought to be a new horse/car track built though. out in macgregor or something. doesnt matter where it is though it will always be opposed.

  24. Mark on November 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I was 7 when the grandstand burnt and we lived on the 2200 block of Howard. So much that Larry posted is true when he said the grandstand was a playground. Underneath the seats and facing west on the 2nd floor was a 20’s era dance hall with a gorgeous poished wooden floor. In the middle of the stands was an iron gate and one could look in. It wass under the west overhang that the PW truck was parked that was supposed to start the fire. We had flaming chuncks land on our house.I stood on the curb on McDougal and the heat was intense. One second the bandshell was there and the next there was a “whump” and it was a pool of molten aluminum. This was before the Oullette overpass. When you travel north and just past the lawn bowling courts, to your right is 2/3 foot rise in the ground about 50 feet long. This is the resting place of the grandstand. It burnt for days until nothing was left. It was the worst fire I ever saw.

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