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Back to Hall of Fame » Greyhound racetrack model getting makeover
Friday, March 30, 2018

Courtesy of the Abilene Reflector Chronicle - Tim Horan

John Weigle works on refurbishing the model racetrack at the Greyhound Hall of Fame.

  School kids mostly ask the same questions while visiting the Greyhound Hall of Fame.

• What do greyhounds chase?

• How fast do greyhounds run?

• How far do greyhounds run?

Providing the answers to many of those questions is a display, a miniature model of the Derby Lane racetrack in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“And they do pay attention to the movie,” said Hall of Fame Manager Kathy Lounsbury said of the students.

The display, the largest at the Hall of Fame, is being refurbished to better tell the story of greyhounds and the racetrack.

To operate the display, visitors push one of five buttons which activate a different video describing greyhounds, racing, wagering and the racetrack.


John Weigle, who has experience with model railroads through the Abilene Model Railroad Club, is volunteering his time for the makeover. He hopes to have the renovation completed before greyhound owners and enthusiasts come to Abilene for the National Greyhound Association’s Spring Meet, April 16 through 21.

“I came down and talked to Kathy to see how devoted they were to wanting to get this refurbished,” he said.

Weigle was convinced.

“This is the same scale (as a model railroad). At least it is really close to the Ho Scale Model Train,” he said. “The biggest problem I saw was the lighting on the display.”

So the model is getting new LED lights, new grass on the infield, new dirt, trees, bushes and flowers. “We’ll bring out some new color,” he said.

Weigle is also very familiar with greyhound racing and racetracks.

“We used to go every Friday when I lived out in Colorado Springs,” he said of the now closed Rocky Mountain Greyhound Park. “I lost my fair share of money but it was fun.”

He also visited Wichita Greyhound Park when it was open.

School groups

Over the spring break, a lot of school groups visited the Hall of Fame last week, Lounsbury said. “We’ve made a lot of changes here but this is one of the largest ones,” she said of the racetrack refurbish.

She said a lot of the props used in the model came from Germany.

The model has three starting boxes commonly used at greyhound racetracks in the United States.

As for the questions asked by students, the Hall of Fame has a display of a lure used at the Daytona Greyhound Track.

“They chase an artificial lure and we were really fortunate to receive a Skill Saw Rabbit,” she said.

She said when the offices of Delaware North remodeled, the lure was donated to the Greyhound Hall of Fame.

How fast?

“Everything that I have read has said they have been clocked up to 45 mph and can reach top speed within four strides,” she said in answering one of the questions often asked by students. “In the movie, it tells the race is over in 30 seconds and they want to know how far they travel in 30 seconds.”

The most popular distance is 5/16 of a mile or 550 yards. The best time at Derby Lane this season is 30.35 seconds. The second most popular distance is 3/8 of a mile or 666 yards. The best time this season is 36.97 seconds.

Some also race over the shorter 3/16 distance.

The Hall of Fame also has a display of trophies that show greyhounds that once raced over hurdles and there is evidence of monkey jockeys being used at one time.

Just The Facts

Model feature on magazine cover

The racetrack model was featured on the cover of the July 1975 issue of The Greyhound Review.

Gary Guccione, who would go on to be the executive director of the National Greyhound Association and inducted into the Hall of Fame, wrote an article titled “Greyhound — as in Hall of Fame” in that issue.

“If this is a greyhound museum, then where are the busses?” he wrote.

“That’s not at all an uncommon question asked by people when they first step inside the plush walls of Abilene’s Greyhound Hall of Fame.

“It’s a museum full of fascinating surprises, not the least being that the Hall of Fame is all about real, live greyhounds and not about buses.”

The museum today has two live retired racers greeting visitors.

In the 1975 issue, Guccione wrote about the model.

“The major highlight of the Hall of Fame is the Race Track Model, where, with the push of a button, visitors can witness a race and the exciting events that precede and follow a race at a typical track. Slides flash on four large screens above the track, capturing the tense atmosphere of an official race for the visitors,” he wrote.