Speedway, Jr.

Opened: May 1956
Location: Kiddieland
ORIGINAL CARS & RIDE SYSTEM
Manufactured By: Allan Herschell Company, Inc. – North Tonawanda, New York
Ride Model: Roadway Ride
Ride Capacity: 2 per car
CURRENT CARS & RIDE SYSTEM
Manufactured By: K D Enterprises – Sunnyvale, California (?)
Ride Capacity: 2 per car

When Lagoon opened in its present location in 1896, the man-made Lagoon Lake was much larger than it is today. Using present-day landmarks, the lake extended as far as Colossus: The Fire Dragon to the west and northward into parts of Lagoon-A-Beach and Kiddieland.

In the northern portion of the lake, an island was created with lawns, flowers and a fountain. It was named Pleasure Island and could be accessed by a footbridge or by boat.

Over the next few decades, the northeast corner of the lake was sectioned off from the lake for bathing and eventually replaced by a large swimming pool. Just next to the pool was a small corner of the lake that was also separated and may have even become a sunken garden at one point.

This corner of Lagoon Lake, shown in 1920, would later be separated from the rest of the lake and eventually become home to Speedway, Jr. Photo: Shipler Studios

Generally, this part of the park was a passive area between the Midway and the Swimming Pool where guests could have picnics or go for a stroll down shaded garden paths.

As Lagoon added more amusements, a few kids’ rides were added, such as a miniature railway which operated in many different locations, including this corner of the lake next to the pool.

It was 1956 when Lagoon opened an entire area dedicated to kids with ten rides and several displays depicting different nursery rhymes. One of the main features of the new Mother Gooseland was the “Lagoon Speedway” with a custom track layout surrounding a small pond, left over from the original Lagoon Lake.

The service station, circa 1957. Photo: Janice Staker Brown

The success of Mother Gooseland quickly exceeded the management’s expectations. Within a matter of weeks of its opening, additional Speedway cars had to be ordered to accommodate all the kids who wanted to experience driving a car just their size. Four years later, a larger Speedway was built for adults and bigger kids to enjoy.

The loading area was near a scaled-down service station with fuel pumps and a little store with products on display inside. The trip started out by traveling north, parallel to the Swimming Pool. Next, the track weaved back and forth near the Creative Playground and continued southwest, turning east just before reaching Bulgy The Whale (later Helicopters). The track passed Mary Mary Quite Contrary’s Garden as it went behind the station. It then wrapped around through the station twice, passing the Hickory Dickory Clock on the way.

Mary Mary’s Garden and Hickory Dickory Clock, ca. 1956. Photos: Janice Staker Brown

Around the late 1970s or early ’80s, the cars and the track were replaced. The current cars are completely different from the streamlined, ’50s-style cars. They may say ‘Ford’ on the front, but they have a stronger resemblance to a Jaguar SS100 or the MG T-Series, both produced in England beginning in the 1930s.

It’s been pointed out that the current ride system is identical to those used for Terroride and Dracula’s Castle and may have been made by KD Enterprises.

The mini service station featured signage that changed over time to reflect the sponsor’s current branding.

The sign next to the station also changed as the name and logo of the sponsor changed. Utoco (short for the Utah Oil Company) was a regional chain that was purchased by Standard Oil and later became American Oil, which was eventually shortened to Amoco. For many years, the station featured actual working gas pumps and they were changed out a couple times as well.

Aerial view of Speedway, Jr. in early 1980. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

When the Carousel Plaza food court was built in 1981, the main building was built right up against the west end of Speedway, Jr. The building still tapers off on the south end where the original track used to be. This made for only a narrow walkway between the building and the ride, essentially cutting Mother Gooseland in half.

When entire kids’ area was reconfigured in 1985, the west portion of Speedway, Jr. was shortened to allow for better circulation between all of the kids’ rides and the restrooms.

Speedway, Jr.’s track was modified again in 2004 to make room for The Dragonfly and Kontiki. The west end of the track was re-routed through the pond in the middle of the ride. Now, instead of winding around a couple switchbacks, the track turns left just before Kontiki and passes through a covered bridge to a new island and crosses another bridge before resuming the previous route.

On the island, a little house was built with a dog house and garden, reminiscent of Mary Mary Quite Contrary’s Garden which was removed decades ago. The original service station was completely replaced by a new one in 2009. The new station doubles as a storage space for the ride.

Despite the changes, Speedway, Jr. remains a memorable experience that kids have enjoyed for generations.

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A similar car ride is operating as the Touring Cars at Centreville Amusement Park, Toronto.

SOURCES

Allan Herschell catalog. Undated.

Allan Herschell ad. The Billboard, 24 Nov 1958.

Novel Features Make Standout Of Freed’s Salt Lake Kiddieland. The Billboard, 26 May 1956.

Lincoln, Ivan M. Lagoon opens with focus on entertainment. Deseret News, 24 May 1985.

Terroride and Dracula’s castle…Who built them. LagoonFans.com, Feb 2015.

Speedway Jr. LagoonFans.com, Aug 2018.

Ride Systems. The Bill Tracy Project, accessed 8 Apr 2020.

MG T-Series. MG-cars.org.uk, accessed 8 Apr 2020.

1931 – ‘Wait! The SS is coming!’. JaguarHeritage.com, accessed 8 Apr 2020.