John Hoenig
Track Owner/Promoter
Class of 2003

John Hoenig built the Thompson Speedway after the Hurricane of ’38 ripped through the quiet town in northeast Connecticut, destroying his family farm.  Stones from stone walls were crushed and mixed into asphalt. Felled trees were turned into lumber for grandstands, fences, and buildings.  Finally, on May 26, 1940, Hoenig opened his doors for that first race at Thompson, becoming the first paved racetrack in the country.

In those early years, Hoenig quickly established Thompson as a top-notch racing facility.  Lee Allard, Bill Holland, Ted Horn, Maury Rose, and Rex Mays were all drivers who competed at Thompson.  By the time they retired, each of these five men had gone on to win the famed Indianapolis 500.

After closing during World War II, Hoenig and Thompson came roaring back in 1945 with midget cars.  In 1947, John Hoenig held a meeting at Thompson with Bill France, Sr., Roy Tuthill, and Ed Otto, to discuss the future of racing. 

The following year, as a result of this meeting, NASCAR was formed. 

In 1948, John promoted the first stock car race in Connecticut. (Fellow Class of ’03 member Moon Burgess competed and finished twelve at the event).   In 1951, John built a road racing course, using part of the oval track, luring USAC type cars and driver into Northeast Connecticut.  Mario Andretti was one of the more well-known drivers who competed on the new course.  In 1968 and ’69, Hoenig brought the Grand National (Winston Cup) division to Thompson, with drivers like Richard Petty, Donnie and Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, and Benny Parsons. 

Many of today’s Winston Cup stars have cut their teeth at Thompson, including Ron and Ken Bouchard, Geoffrey, Brett, and Todd Bodine, Jimmy Spencer, and Steve Park.  John’s son, Don ran the track for many years.  In 2000, John’s grandson, D.R. Hoenig took over as operations manager, with Don serving as overseer.  

John Hoenig had a vision, and was able to see that vision through to fruition.

Today, we welcome him, along with the other members of the Class of ’03, into the NEAR Hall of Fame.


Noted Racing Journalist Lew Boyd presents John's award to the Hoenig family.