The Formula Atlantic starting grid roars past the starter. Hamilton Hamilton Historical collection. Aug. 8, 1978
The Formula Atlantic starting grid roars past the starter.  Hamilton Historical collection. Aug. 8, 1978

Last weekend’s Daytona 500 brought to mind Hamilton’s one-time encounter with high-speed auto racing.  Fans lined the entire route, but the 1978 Formula Atlantic race was an ill-fated event. It had financial problems, and the damage from crowds along the circuit was extensive.

SEE: A rundown of all the problems in this archive story

(Missed the Daytona? Read the coverage here and here and here )

Before the race: erecting one of two pedestrian bridges , this one across Bay Street at York Boulevard. Bleachers sat 60,000 spectators.  Hamilton Historical collection. August, 1978
Erecting a pedestrian bridge across Bay Street at York Boulevard. Bleachers sat 60,000 spectators. Hamilton Historical collection. August, 1978
Watching from the Bay King Motors building. Hamilton Historical Collection.
Watching from the Bay King Motors building. Hamilton Historical Collection.
Damage at one of the points along the route. August, 1978. Hamilton Historical Collection.
Damage at one of the points along the route. August, 1978.  Hamilton Historical Collection.

Held in early August, the race ran through Hamilton’s downtown core – Main, King, York, Bay, MacNab and Park. Street racing was in vogue, although very few events were held in North America through city streets. It would be eight years before this mode of racing became successful with the running of the Molson Indy in Toronto.

Race-Collage
The first turn, from Main onto Bay. Top Right: Fans in an apartment building under construction. Bottom Right: The cleanup.  (Hamilton Historical Collection)

 

Race aftermath --Said Tannourji, maintenance man at Central Library,  inspects the remains of a petunia bed wrecked by the crowds. Hamilton Historical Collection
Aftermath – Said Tannourji, maintenance worker at Central Library, inspects the remains of a petunia bed wrecked by crowds.  Hamilton Historical Collection.

 

 

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