Cahokia Downs: Track Personifies Most Modern in Racing Unusual Weather Presents Major Challenge, Daily Racing Form, 1958-05-06


view raw text

■ , i. M—adlm Cahokia Downs By Dick Kumble Track Personifies Most Modern in Racing Unusual Weather Presents Major Challenge Over Three Million Was Plowed Into Plant CAHOKIA DOWNS, East St. Louis, 111., May 5.— John Stelle, a former governor of the State of Illinois, and George Edward Day of— Springfield, the biggest ■ , i. paint paint distributor distributor in in the the state, state. paint paint distributor distributor in in the the state, state. built Cahokia Downs. Not with then- hands, but with their money, plus" that of the patrons who purchased shares of stock, which is still-available on the open market. From an expansive swamp, a pile of rubbish, and a wooded area covering 135 acres, they molded together the finest features of ths. countrys plants, added the,m to an architects delvings into the modern, modern, "and and came came up up with with an an M—adlm modern, modern, "and and came came up up with with an an aluminum and steel palace that would defy Frank Lloyd Wrights critical analysis. Everywhere in view is the attractive ceramic tile construction, while the floors of the grandstand and upper clubhouse there are three levels for spectators consist of sheet steel. This thoroughbred emporium, which caters almost exclusively to the after-hour racegoer, can comfortably accommodate 15,000, which includes 8,000 seats in the grandstand plus 3,200 in the clubhouse. Air-conditioning and heating have been installed from one end of the track to the other. There are two glass-enclosed dining terraces in the clubhouse, and the turf club was completed at a cost of 50,000. Every comfort imag-ineable is enjoyed nightly, and it is George Days foremost aim to give the grandstand fraternity all of the comforts they so aptly deserve. Day remarked: "This is surely the game of the public. It no longer belongs to a select few, and the memories of the past that will always exist in racing, are being shared by. more people each day." Cahokia runs sixty dates, which is based on a five-day week, Mondays excluded. After it closes, the older and sedate Fairmount Park swings into operation with an identical schedule. For the first time in this area, last autumn, after Fairmount shuttered down, the Egyptian Trotting Association ran a thirty-night program at Cahokia, which has helped to furnish the excellent bottom on this years racing strip, having been subjected to heavy rainfall. Elements Extreme in Southern Illinois Weather is the greatest single factor in the general success of a tracks meeting.and in this area they face problems that this reporter has never seen, elsewhere. This is not a question of whether the sun will shine, or if the rain will cease to fall prior to pest tinie. Instead, it must be noted that in listening to any St.* Louis radio station for a full sixty minutes since Cahokia opened last week, there was included several interruptions which gave notices of 1 tornadoes, . which are not uncommon in Southern Illinois; 2 thunderstorms, which are violent enough to demand constant civil observance of same; 3 hail, which always offers problems beyond those of ordinary precipitation; and 4 temperature drop-offs. which naturally increase during the evening hours. This is the same St. Louis that swelters most of the summer, the reason that day-time racing was an unsound venture some years back when the Fail-mount management attempted it. Professional racing employees in this area are forced to put in a days work that starts with the normal morning tasks, but ends close to midnight. The afternoon siesta is quite popular, by necessity. George Day, who calls himself a "merchant," has retired from the paint business, which is now being operated in its entirety by his son, George Edward m. His only daughter, Mrs. Charlotte Patton. also resides in Springfield, while the elder Days now have a winter home in Miami Shores. Fla. Day can be engaged in conversation about his initial racing venture at any hour. He has known Stelle for 40 years, and the latter, had much experience in racing prior to the opening of Cahokia. Host Large Group at Derby TV Party Incidentally, while Mr. Stelle. and Mrs. Eleanore M. Day were in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby last week end, this tracks managing director and secretary entertained a large group of St. Louis racing enthusiasts in front of a monstrous television screen at a downtown mens club. "The original estimate for the plant was ,800,000 and we wound up pouring in almost twice that figure ,200,000. The general contractor was Charles Rook, who is now a principal stockholder and member of the board of directors. Any normal time schedule would cover two years for this" size structure, but we were up in eleven months, and began racing here in July, 1954. Our track is considered one of the best-lighted in the country. We were among the first to use direct lighting close to the racing .strip instead of the usual high light standards with a double row of flood lights. The light standards on the turn are 20 feet high and 15 feet apart. The cross-arm, which is three feet in length, houses two 1500-watt globes at each end. which provide super-brilliance. We are extremely proud of Cahokia Downs, and will attempt to multiply racing interest in, this area through only the finest methods Continued on Page FHty-One CAHOKIand DOWNS By. DICK" RUMBLE Continued~from Page Seten that we know of. We give them the best, and people here- know it."- Actually, Cahokia-draws its crowds from a populace of one-million and a half, mostly coming: from greater St. Louis, which is connected :tq this large Illinois city by six main arteries which-span the mighty Mississippi River— the Eads, Jefferson Barracks. Douglas MacArthur. Veterans Memorial, Chain of Rocks and McKinley; all wide, modern, bridges with excellent facilities for transporting- heavy traffic. St. Louis, one of rthev oldest settlements in the Mississippi -valley, was founded in 17C4, and honor of Louis LX; of France. It is one of the greatest industrial centers in the nation and-ra leading world market. St. Louis is important in the production of stoves, shoes, beer, and.steel cars. It is Jthe largest, market in-the UJ5. for wool, raw furs, lumber, and ilrugs: and 13-of its •enormous plants are the largest of their j kind in the world. This district also constitutes the. second largest railroad terminal in the nation. Cahokia Downs is j-linked to its public with six large state and federal highways, all easily accessible from surrounding communities. The parking lots can.accqmmodate more than 7,000 vehicles quite comfortably. Racing was outlawed in Missouri . in 1906. Dont try to tell it to St.: Louisians.

Persistent Link:
Local Identifier: drf1958050601_7_2
Library of Congress Record: