There’s a Lost Racetrack in the Heart of Saginaw, Michigan Nearly Everyone Has Forgotten About
The Saginaw County Fair It used to be the home of one of the biggest fairgrounds in the country, beginning way back in 1866. Through much of the previous century, it was home to the Sawinaw Raceway, a favorite destination for mid-Michigan race fans.
Sometime in the early 1900's, a dirt track & grandstand were built for auto racing. Up through the 1950's, the fairgrounds were extremely popular & successful, bringing in as many as 350,000 people in one week.
In 1980, Saginaw Valley Downs racetrack opened, bringing in a crowd of 6,600. When the casinos started popping up throughout Michigan, a day at the fair & horse races were being replaced by endless days & nights of gambling at the casinos. By 2002, the fair moved to Chesaning and by 2005, the races ceased to exist leaving the complex abandoned.
To this day, the buildings, fairgrounds and racetrack remain abandoned and overgrown, reminding passersby what they're missing or might have missed.
The old gate of the Saginaw County Fairgrounds still sits on the corner of Genessee & Webber streets, restored, and greets people to what is now a registered Historical Site.
Wikipedia describes the entrance gate structure:
The Saginaw County Fairgrounds Main Gate is an Arts and Crafts structure measuring sixty feet long by fifteen feet deep. The gate contains a ticket office at each end, with side-by-side pedestrian and automobile gates in the center. It is built from red paving bricks, and has a limestone base, window sill-level beltcourses, and window impost blocks. A green clay Spanish tile hip roof tops the structure, supported by paired and single brackets.
The pictures below show the present-day grounds.
Ruin Road visited in 2018 and found lots of the grandstand intact:
While the front entrance is obscured from the main road, traveling behind the old fairgrounds on Ray Street gives you a rear view of the grandstands and awning proudly displaying the "Saginaw Raceway."