A CHANGING WORLD: 120 Things That Happened since the Speedbowl Opened in 1951

As we’ve studied racing history in the Northeast over the years, we are continually reminded of just how much the world has changed since the Waterford Speedbowl first opened it’s doors on April 15, 1951.  Here’s a list in reverse-chronological order of many events in popular culture, professional  sports, consumer products and U.S. history that all happened after the shoreline opened over 62 years ago.

May 10, 2011 Charlotte Motor Speedway unveils the world’s largest HDTV at 200′ x 80′ and at a cost of $40,000,000
December 18, 2009 The feature film “Avatar” is released in the U.S. and goes on to become the highest grossing movie in history
February 17, 2009 Broadcasting of analog television signals in the U.S. ceases
November 4, 2008 Barack Obama becomes the first African-American elected to the U.S. Presidency
June 29, 2007 Apple Corp releases the original 1st-generation iPhone, reshaping the smartphone industry
February 14, 2005 The video-sharing website YouTube was launched
October 27, 2004 Boston Red Sox finally win the MLB World Series 86 years after winning their last title in 1918, including four Game 7 World Series losses in between
February 4, 2004 A social network website called “The Facebook” is launched by Mark Zuckerberg & his friends from his Harvard University dorm room
June 11, 2002 A reality competition TV show called “American Idol” premieres on the Fox network and would later be the #1 rated TV show for a record 8 seasons
February 3, 2002 The New England Patriots win their first NFL Super Bowl Championship defeating the heavily favored St. Louis Rams 20-17 on a last second FG
September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda terrorists attack the U.S., including the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City
February 18, 2001 7-time NASCAR Champion Dale Earnhardt dies from injuries sustained in a last lap crash during the Daytona 500
June 17, 1999 The management of Riverside Park in Agawam, MA announces the Speedway will close after 50 years of operation at the end of the season
October 19, 1997 The first version of the video game “Grand Theft Auto” is released
May 17, 1996 NY Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera recorded his first of his record 652 career saves against the California Angels
May 21, 1992 MTV’s “Real World” premieres launching the reality TV craze that would eventually take over the network’s programming entirely
August 23, 1991 The World Wide Web project becomes a publicly available internet service via home computer systems
May 17, 1990 Sirius Satellite Radio is founded by Martine Rothblatt, David Margoles and Robert Briskman
February 11, 1990 Mike Tyson loses the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship to James “Buster” Douglas in what is considered one of the biggest upset in the boxing history.
November 9, 1989 Germany’s ‘Peaceful Revolution’ succeeds with the fall of the Berlin Wall
October 16, 1989 Compaq launches the LTE, the first successful consumer laptop in the U.S.
October 11, 1989 The Energizer Bunny made it’s first U.S. television commercial appearance as part Energizer Batteries’ national marketing campaign.
July 5, 1989 NBC airs the pilot episode centering around a stand-up comic’s life in New York City titled “The Seinfeld Chronicles”
April 19, 1987 “The Simpsons” animated program debuts on TV as a segment for Fox’s “Tracey Ullman Show”
April 5, 1987 Rupurt Murdoch launches the Fox Broadcasting Company as the  4th major television network in the U.S.
March 29, 1987 A then-record 93,173 fans attend the WWE’s WrestleMania III event held at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, MI
October 24, 1985 NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans is killed in a crash during practice at Martinsville Speedway after clinching his record 9th NASCAR Modified title
October 21, 1985 David Cook opens the first Blockbuster video rental store in Dallas, TX
October 15, 1985 Nike releases the first version of the “Air Jordan” sneaker to the public with a black & red color design to match Michael Jordan’s uniform with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA.
March 31, 1985 The very 1st NASCAR Modified Tour race is held at Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, CT
March 14, 1985 The first NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with a 64-team bracket begins with 8 first round games.
February 15, 1985 John Hughes’ classic teen film “The Breakfast Club” debuts in movie theatres across the U.S.
March 22, 1984 Mississippi becomes the last U.S. state to ratify the 19th ammendment allowing women to vote
June 20, 1983 Sony releases the first consumer camcorder called the Betamovie BMC-100P which utilized Betamax cassette taps.
April 20, 1983 The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was founded
November 30, 1982 Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album is released
October 24, 1982 This first Hard Rock Café in the U.S. opens in Los Angeles, CA
October 1, 1982 Billy Joel’s 1978 album “52nd Street” is re-released as the first commercially released album available on compact disc
August 1, 1981 the cable network MTV debuts airing primarily music videos and concerts
March 13, 1981 Guinness Book of World Records holds the 1st Rubik’s Cube World Championships in Munich, Germany
October 15, 1980 The iconic video game “Pac-Man” is released in the United States for the first time
September 25, 1980 Drummer John Bonham dies of asphyxiation.  The remaining members of his band Led Zeppelin chose to dissolve instead of find a replacment.
March 21, 1980 The episode “A House Divided” from the TV series Dallas aired on CBS leading to the summer-long suspense of ‘Who Shot JR?’ in popular culture and popularizing the season-ending cliff hangers in primetime television
December 15, 1979 The board game “Trivial Pursuit” was created by Chris Haney & Scott Abbott in Montreal, Canada.
September 16, 1979 The single “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang is released and becomes the first hip-hop single to cross-over into the mainstream
September 7, 1979 The all-sports cable network ESPN debuts with the first airing of it’s flagship program “Sportscenter”
May 31, 1979 The Big East college athletic conference is established and would become a national powerhouse of NCAA Men’s Basketball in the 1980’s
February 18, 1979 The Daytona 500 is broadcast live by CBS for the first time in the event’s history which featured a last lap crash between leaders Cale Yarborough & Donnie Allison and an ensuing fight on the backstreatch also including Donnie’s brother Bobby.
November 14, 1978 The newly rebuilt “Hollywood” sign located on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills is unvieled on live television to an audience of 60 million people
September 11, 1977 Atari releases their first home gaming console model 2600 in the U.S.
May 25, 1977 George Lucas’ epic space saga “Star Wars” is initially released in the U.S. by 20th Century Films
April 1, 1976 Apple Corp is founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak & Ronald Wayne
October 11, 1975 The long-running comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live debuts on NBC under it’s original title “NBC’s Saturday Night”
April 8, 1975 Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II” becomes the first motion picture sequel to win the Academy Award for Best Picture
April 4, 1975 Microsoft Corporation is founded by Bill Gates & Paul Allen
December 31, 1974 The first rendition of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” airs on ABC hosted by the rock band Three Dog Night featuring Dick Clark reporting live from Times Square in New York City for the ball drop event at midnight.
August 9, 1974 Richard Nixon becomes first U.S. President to resign from office
April 8, 1974 The Atlanta Braves’ Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s career HR record with his 715th in his MLB career
May 18, 1973 The Sears Tower in Chicago, IL opens as the tallest building in the world at the time.
January 14, 1973 The Miami Dolphins of the NFL defeat the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII to become the 1st undefeated team in the Super Bowl era of the NFL.
January 3, 1973 Cleveland businessman George M. Steinbrenner III buys the New York Yankees from CBS for $8.8 million
September 4, 1972 Bob Barker begins his 35-year run as the host of the TV game show “The Price is Right” on CBS
June 12, 1972 The first Nike sneaker bearing the swoosh logo debuts in U.S.
October 1, 1971 The Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL opens
May 1, 1971 A national passenger train service company called Amtrak opens for business.
January 2, 1971 Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act banning the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio in the U.S.
November 15, 1969 Dave Thomas opens the first Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers restaurant in Columbus, OH
July 20, 1969 U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin become the first men to set foot on the moon
June 11, 1969 George Sweigert, an inventor from Cleveland, was awarded a U.S. patent as developer of the first cordless phone
February 9, 1969 The Boeing Commercial Airplanes 747 becomes the world’s first wide-body commercial airliner to ever take flight
January 9, 1969 New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath makes his famous guarantee that his team with defeat the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in the upcoming Super Bowl III.
February 11, 1968 Madison Square Garden in New York City opens
June 1, 1967 The Beatles release their ground-breaking album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the U.S.
January 15, 1967 The very first Super Bowl (known then as the NFL-AFL Championship Game) is played with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Kansas City Chiefs.
September 9, 1965 The sport drink Gatorade is launched in the U.S. by a group of scientists from the University of Florida
August 10, 1965 Sony CV-2000, the first consumer VCR sold in the U.S., debuts in the market
April 9, 1965 the world’s first multi-purpose, domed sports stadium opens in Houston, TX as the “Houston Astrodome”
December 6, 1964 The longest running TV Christmas special in U.S. history “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” aired for the first time  on NBC
April 17, 1964 The Ford Motor Company releases the first version of the Mustang sports car,  becoming the most popular Ford model at the time  since the Model-T.
March 28, 1964 Douglas Tompkins and his wife start “The North Face” as a mail order company, selling rock climbing & camping equipment
March 21, 1964 John Wooden coaches his UCLA Bruins to the first of 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships in the next 12 seasons.
February 23, 1964 Richard Petty wins the 1st of 7 Daytona 500 career victories
February 9, 1964 The Beatles appear on Ed Sullivan Show, starting the British Invasion into America’s rock n’ roll scene.
November 22, 1963 U.S. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, TX
August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C.
March 2, 1962 Wilt Chamberlain scores a record 100 pts in an NBA game playing for the Philadelphia Warriors
April 29, 1961 “Wide World of Sports” aired the first episode of it’s 45 year run on the ABC network.
January 1, 1961 The Coca-Cola Beverage Co. unveils it’s caffeine-free lemon-lime “Sprite” soda in response to the rising popularity of 7-up
April 4, 1960 The epic historical drama film “Ben-Hur” becomes the first feature film to win 11 Academy Awards
December 13, 1959 The 1939 fantasy film “The Wizard of Oz” is broadcast by CBS for the very first time on national TV.
August 21, 1959 Hawaii becomes the 50th state of the United States
July 17, 1959 the first sports instant replay utilizing videotape was shown during New York station WPIX broadcast of a New York Yankee game
July 3, 1959 The landmark “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign was erected roughly 4 miles south of the actual city limits of Las Vegas, NV
January 3, 1959 Alaska becomes the 49th state of the United States
December 28, 1958 The Baltimore Colts defeat the New York Giants for the NFL Championship in overtime in a game largely referred to as “The greatest game ever played” in NFL history.
July 10, 1958 Arthur Melin & Richard Knerr launch their invention called the Hula Hoop creating a national craze for over a decade
December 6, 1957 Burger King restaurant chain launched the first Whopper sandwich at a price of 37¢
September 24, 1957 The Dodgers MLB baseball club plays it’s last game at Ebbets Field in  Brooklyn, NY before relocating to Los Angeles the following season
April 13, 1957 Bill Russell wins the first of his record 11 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics
October 8, 1956 New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen pitches the only perfect game in MLB World Series history against the Brooklyn Dodgers
June 29, 1956 The Federal Aid-Highway Act is signed into law by President Eisenhower authorizing billions of dollars to be spent of developing the U.S. highway system
June 5, 1956 Elvis Presley’s performance on NBC’s “The Milton Berle Show” created a storm of controversy for his energetic, exaggerated body movements deemed too vulgar for national television at the time
July 17, 1955 Walt Disney’s amusement park Disneyland opens in Anaheim, CA
September 27, 1954 “The Tonight Show” debuts on NBC with Steve Allen as it’s 1st host
July 19, 1954 Elvis Presley’s 1st commercial single “That’s All Right” released
September 14, 1954 Marilyn Monroe’s iconic skirt-blowing scene from the film “The Seven Year Itch” is filmed in front of Manhattan’s Trans-Lux 52nd Street Theate
October 1, 1953 Playboy Magazine is founded in Chicago by Hugh Hefner
August 18, 1953 The oldest continuous operating McDonald’s restaurant in the U.S. opened it’s doors for the first time.
July 27, 1953 A peace agreement is signed between the North and South ending the 3-year long Korean War
June 30, 1953 General Motors began production of the first generation of the Chevrolet Corvette sports car.
January 20, 1953 Dwight Eisenhower takes Oath of Office for his first of 2 terms as the President of the United States
October 3, 1952 “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” debuts on ABC, eventually becoming the longest running sitcom in U.S. history until “The Simpsons” surpassed it in 2004
September 6, 1952 A show called “American Bandstand” premieres on  local Philadelphia station WFIL-TV Channel 6.  It would go national soon afterward and run continuously until 1989 primarily on ABC.
March 21, 1952 Cleveland DJ Alan Freed organizes the “Moondog Coronation Ball” at the Cleveland Arena – widely considered the very 1st rock & roll concert ever held in the U.S.
October 15, 1951 “I Love Lucy” television show debuts on CBS
October 5, 1951 “The Honeymooners” debuts as a sketch on the Calvacade of Stars
September 18, 1951 The film “A Streetcar Named Desire” is released featuring a young Marlon Brando in his breakthrough performance
June 25, 1951 CBS airs a program called “Premiere”, the very 1st program in U.S. television history broadcast in color
April 17, 1951 Mickey Mantle plays his first game for the NY Yankees
April 15, 1951 The New London-Waterford Speed Bowl auto racing facility opens in Waterford, CT as a 1/3 oval race track with a crushed blue stone surface

1951 track construction

Construction of the Waterford Speedbowl in early 1951


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