Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ

Raceway Park!  Be there!  Over 150,000 people were there when the Grateful Dead played Raceway Park on Labor Day weekend, September 3, 1977.  Raceway Park is located in Englishtown, NJ. The park was open by brothers Vincent and Louis Napp and Sons in July of 1965 as a mecca of drag racing in the New York City/New Jersey area.  The venue is still run by the Napp family, maintaining a racing schedule from March to November that now includes various other forms of racing such as motocross and quad racing.  It is located in a somewhat rural and picturesque (for New Jersey) location, although the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike are nearby.  Think Woodstock, but with the buzz of race cars zipping around the track! According to audience accounts, the atmosphere was that of a shortened version of Woodstock: mud, traffic jams, even a baby born.  Two things that it did not have in common with Woodstock was that it was disgustingly hot and that there were no gate crashers, a  large ring of shipping containers (like you see on railroad cars or in Elizabeth NJ) stacked two high ringed the field and kept the ticketless out.  The show even made the news it was such a scene.  This was a major gig for the Dead after coming off an almost 4 month hiatus from touring and by all accounts the energy from the crowd was high and the band responded in return.  The New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Marshall Tucker Band opened the show, so by the time the Dead had taken the stage, it had been a long day of partying and anticipation.  You can hear this show on Dick’s Picks Volume 15 and see some really  cool photographs of that day at www.photog.com/gdead/70s/77/09-03/index.html.    The first of my photographs shows the entrance to Raceway Park as it looks today, the race track behind the sign.  The next photo shows the field adjacent to the race track.  Based on accounts that I have read, they say that the concert was held in the adjacent field next to the track,  so I assume that this is the field.  If anyone out there knows this is wrong, please let me know!  You can see that this portion of the field has been converted for motocross competition.  So, break out your Englishtown recording this Labor Day weekend (interesting that September 3rd falls on a Saturday during Labor Day weekend as it did in 1977), have a cold beer in the sun, and sing along!   

  

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