Saturday, May 15, 2021

1974 – Phil Stewart, Elko Promoter, Dies


Elko, Minn. (May 15, 1974) – Minnesota racing promoter Phil Stewart, a dynamic force behind the growth of stock car racing in the Upper Midwest, died suddenly in his home Wednesday of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 37-years-old.

Stewart was the owner and operator of Minnesota National Speedway in Elko, but also promoted races at Raceway Park in Shakopee during the past four seasons, and operated Twin City Speedway in New Brighton in 1969 and ’70.

At one time he had interest in Golden Spike Speedway in St. Cloud, Minn., and had been involved for several seasons in the stock car racing program at the Minnesota State Fair, last year directing the mot successful Labor Day Weekend events in recent fair history.

A former driver, Stewart abandoned his trucking business in the fall of 1965 to purchase the then Elko Speedway in mid-construction. He engineered the completion of the quarter-mile asphalt oval, and then began his career as a promoter. In 1971, he tore up the old oval, expanded it to its present 3/8-mile length, and constructed what has been called, “one of the finest short track facilities in the country.”

Stewart was an innovator in the sport, introducing to the region long-distance, post-season events that attracted drivers from across the country; the “speed sport spectacular”, a multi-event program featuring several types of racing.

He became affiliated with NASCAR prior to the start of last season, earning a sanction from the sport’s largest governing body for his weekly programs at Minnesota National, and the National Championship event last Labor Day at the State Fair.

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