The Carnival of Speed was up and running before World War II, and come Friday it will celebrate its 84th edition at Shockman Field in Milton-Freewater.
“It started long before I got here, and it will probably be going after I’m gone,” said Mac-Hi coach Tim Hutchinson. “It’s one of the biggest events in the area.”
Other than the Pendleton Round-Up, the track meet is the longest running sporting event in the region.
Besides missing a couple of years during WWII, and being canceled by the weather in 2010 and 2018, the meet has been held.
The Coos County Meet in Coos Bay, which is celebrating its 111th anniversary this year, is the longest-running track meet in Oregon.
While the boys have competed for 84 years, the girls are just in their 40th year of competition, according to meet records.
Hutchinson said there are 26 schools and nearly 650 athletes expected to compete Friday. The field events will start at 11 a.m.
What Hutchinson doesn’t see happening on Friday is meet records falling.
“We’d be lucky if a record is broken,” he said. “Some of those records might never be broken.”
The meet records have been impeccably kept, with the longest-standing record being that in the boys 200 meters, set by Warren Sherlock of Walla Walla High School in 1959.
Sherlock’s race was in yards back in the day, but when converted to meters, his time stands at 21.7 seconds.
Tim Porter of Helix holds two records — the high jump at 6-foot-8, and the long jump at 23-4½, both set in 1986. He was surprised to learn his records still stand.
“That was a long time ago,” said Porter, who now is the superintendent of schools for the South Umpqua School District.
“I loved the Carnival of Speed,” Porter said. “There was always great competition and the the weather was always great, which helped.”
Porter went on to compete one year at Oregon State before it folded its track program.
Pendleton track coach Larry Brizendine, who will be bring a team this year, competed in the meet when he was an athlete at PHS.
“I don’t know if I ever placed, I just remember competing there,” said Brizendine, a 1977 PHS grad. “I did the pole vault and the long jump, but I was a mid-range athlete.”
Jim Smith, an assistant track coach at Helix, and a 1979 graduate of the school, remembers the meet being smaller than it is today.
“It was more of an elite meet back then,” said Smith, who ran the 200 and competed in the long jump.
“You had to have qualifying marks.”