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Harness Racing: Maywood Racetrack


Have you ever been so excited to jump on a research wagon, that you seriously contemplated jumping right back off of it when you hit smack-hard into a roadblock?

After coming back from the #ACFW2016 writers conference this past August, I had to re-evaluate my trilogy. As it stood, all three of my novels was split between male and female protagonists. I had thought that since it was about a family, then it would be okay. Wrong.

In my effort to spread one trilogy into three eras, I discovered that it wouldn’t be as hard as I thought to come up with baseline book ideas for each trilogy.

For the Korean War trilogy, I decided to borrow a small idea from my great Uncle Oscar, who was involved with harness racing at the  Maywood Race track in Melrose Park, IL. I don’t know much about my Uncle Oscar. And as far as I knew, his photograph was still up in the main office at the park, so I had a very good chance of contacting someone and having a successful conversation with whomever could help answer my questions.

But conducting quick Google search sent my hopes falling to the ground.

Due to financial constraints, the race track had closed its doors in fall 2015.

How would this affect my chances of researching and writing a good trilogy that also connected me to my distant relatives and their lives? Well, I would have to work harder — that didn’t deter me any. Research must be my middle name.

Sometimes, book planning throws hiccups in the road and we have to roll with the bumps. I hope that this journey of gathering information about the Maywood Race track will be successful, and that I can in some small way, preserve the rich history of this beautiful park and Standardbred race horses.

What do you do when your researching plans fall through, or you encounter roadblocks?


Photo Credit: (Top) Pinterest (Left) Maywood Race Track, Hall of Fame driver-trainer Frank Ervin with 1949 and 1952 Harness Horse of the Year Good Time. (Right) Maywood Race Track, Maywood Park’s leading driver of the 1950s Harry Burright gives some handicapping pointers to stage, screen and singing star Jeanette MacDonald.