Phoenix Trots Out A $9 Million Track With Spiral Curves

The New York Times
December 27, 1964

The new Phoenix Trotting Park may have the fastest racing strip in the land when it opens a 60-night meeting on Jan. 11. "Spiral curves," the brainchild of Commendatore Ivone Grassetto, internationally of Padua, Italy, will be a feature of the five-eighths of a mile track. The $9,000,000 harness racing plant is situated a few miles west of Phoenix.

The advantage of "spiral curves" is that with proper elevation they eliminate the outward thrust that ordinarily occurs when a speeding object enters a turn. They have been used effectively in railroad and highway construction.

Grassetto's spiral-designed race track in Padua, Italy has long has been a mecca for horses who have trimmed two and more seconds from their lifetime records.

Phoenix trotting executives are enthusiastic about the new design. Votes of confidence have come from James J. Dunnigan, Sr., the president of the Phoenix Park and its sister track at Buffalo Raceway; Norman S. Woolworth, the chairman of the board at Arizona-New York Harness Racing, Inc., and James Dunnigan, Jr., the vice-president and director of racing at both tracks.

Woolworth's Meadow Skipper, star of his Clearview Stable, may campaign at Phoenix after a brilliant stand at Hollywood Park in California. Both Woolworth and Dunnigan, Jr. predict that horsemen will endorse the new strip. They have worked horses at Padua.

The Phoenix grandstand, almost a city block in length, is glass-enclosed and heated. There is seating in the grandstand, clubhouse and "Sunset Casino" for more than 5,000 race-goers. Luxury dining is available on the four levels of the "Sunset Casino," Phoenix's counterpart of Roosevelt Raceway's "Cloud Casino," for 900 patrons. Harry M. Stevens will cater the dining.

Space for an additional 10,000 onlookers is available on the ramp, which will have radiant heating, and the forward area of the grandstand. More than 27,000 cubic yards of concrete went into the grandstand.

A sculptural tour de force is achieved by the 15 huge, V-shaped roof beams on the long cantilever. The beams, weighing 120 tons, standing eight feet, stretching 105 feet and cantilevering 32 feet, connect to Z-shaped fascia units. This extends the cantilever to 44 feet.

The press will have a gondola in mid-air that is 127 feet of split-leveled steel-framed architecture. It rests atop four of the 14 fascia units at the forward tip of the grandstand.

There is a V-shaped tower that provides access to the Sunset Casino and clubhouse. Four elevators are located in the grandstand. Fans will be able to view the races through one of the largest installations in the land. The glass, which could cover two-thirds of an acre, encloses the grandstand. A special paddock is being built in front of the grandstand.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.