For 56 years, cars have zipped around the 1/3-mile asphalt track knownas Wall Stadium, the lone remaining paved track in New Jersey. Wall isthe epitome of a bullring--short and fast with a rough-and-tumble pastand a tenuous future.
Thomas and Jennie Nicol got their first taste of racing in the '40s whenthey visited Long Branch Speedway, the long since defunct 1/5-mile pavedoval on the Jersey Shore. Infected by the racing bug, thehusband-and-wife team eventually decided to build their own track. Theysettled on an area in Wall Township, just 15 minutes from famouslandmarks such as Asbury Park's Convention Hall.
Even today, the location is a vacationer's paradise. What better than tospend the day at the beach and the night at the races?
Racing at Wall got underway in May 1950, and it hasn't stopped yet. For52 years, the Nicols watched over their dream. From NASCAR Modifieds toARTS Trucks, to ISMA Supermodifieds, it seems that at one time oranother everything and everyone has run at Wall.
Legendary drivers such as Maynard Troyer, Charlie Jarzombek, and RonBouchard have all tested their mettle against the quirky asphalt ofWall. Martin Truex Jr., a two-time Busch Series champion and currentNextel Cup driver, cut his teeth on the high-banked track. Even DonHawk, NASCAR's director of regional racing development, wheeled a racecar around the Jersey Shore landmark. However, no Wall alumnus hasachieved greater success on the national stage than Ray Evernham, whoseEvernham Motorsports has become one of the premier organizations in Cupracing.
...sometimes leads to spectacular...
...sometimes leads to spectacular crashes...
...as this Legends Car takes...
...as this Legends Car takes a midair tumble.
The Jersey native started traveling to the short tracks with his uncle.Spending weekends at Wall, Flemington, and Hightstown, it didn't takelong for the young Evernham to get hooked on racing.
Even so, asphalt racing wasn't really on Evernham's mind. "At that timeI wanted to run dirt," says the three-time Cup champion as Jeff Gordon'screw chief. "But dirt didn't have an entry-level program, and Wall had aclass called Modern Stocks. I actually started racing at Wall Stadiumbecause I could afford it."
From Modern Stocks, Evernham graduated to Sportsman cars and then to histrue love, Modifieds. He was a terror on the track and owns winners'trophies from every division he ran at Wall--from Midgets, to Modifieds,to Sportsman cars, to the Moderns.
A pair of Modifieds wage ...
A pair of Modifieds wage battle.
Naturally, Evernham has some favorite memories from his home track."One, obviously, would be my first Modified feature win [in 1982].Another was the first Modified race I ever ran. It ended up being TurkeyDerby," Evernham says of Wall's renowned Thanksgiving Day contest. "I'mlike 20 years old, lining up in this damn Modified Turkey Derby, andI've got Maynard Troyer, Charlie Jarzombek, Ron Bouchard . . . all thesepeople [were] in my heat race and I qualified the car. So I was prettyproud of that."
One of the allures of Wall from a driver's standpoint is the layout. TheNicol family built the track with 30-degree banking in the corners and16-degree banking in the straights, making it one of the faster tracksaround. A Modified can easily turn laps in the 12-second bracket, whichis pretty quick for a 1/3-mile track.
"Wall Stadium is different," says Evernham. "Maybe a mini Bristol. It'sfast. It's only a third. It was always pretty narrow on thestraightaways, so you could haul ass coming off the corner."