Dover International Speedway and Dover Downs Inc. officials recently learned of the Jan. 17 passing of David Penrose Buckson, the facilities’ original founder.
A longtime Delaware public official, Buckson’s meetings with local politicians and business leaders led to the organization and construction of what was then Dover Downs in the late 1960s as a dual-use motorsports and horse-racing facility.
“We are sorry to learn of Mr. Buckson’s passing and express our condolences to his family,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment Inc. and Dover Motorsports Inc. “It was his original vision that led to the birth of Dover Downs and many Delawareans have benefited over the years as a result.”
Buckson, while serving as Delaware’s attorney general, met with local automobile dealer Jack Whitby and the late state Sen. Alan Cook in 1967 about developing a speedway project for the Dover area.
The site chosen was a 204-acre farm and airfield in north Dover. The combination of a 5/8-mile horse racing track and one-mile motorsports track, allowed both sports to use the same grandstands and facilities. Built by the Melvin Joseph Construction Company and financed by John Rollins, Dover Downs Raceway opened in March 1969 with a thoroughbred racing card. Dover International Speedway followed with its first NASCAR event July 6, 1969.