Photo of the 'Pre-Prix' Conjures Memories of 1980s Saline

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 08/25/2016 - 13:59

A time capsule of sorts representing Saline’s past has been installed in Council Chambers at Saline City Hall. It is a photo captured by Dell Deaton in 1986 of mini-Indy race cars speeding down Michigan Avenue near the heart of Saline.

The event, spearheaded by then mayor Donald Shelton was called the “Pre-Prix.” Organizers created a race course downtown by lining the streets with scrap tires bound together with plastic bands.

The tire wall served as a safety barrier to protect spectators from potential out-of-control race cars. They were set up by workers from the Department of Public Works with a lot of help from local volunteers.

The participants were from the North American Mini-Champs Race Association (NAMRA). Drivers enjoyed the race, as it was the only one in their circuit that was actually run on streets.

Although Shelton stepped down after eight years as mayor and was replaced by Mark Hopper, the road race was run again in 1987, later in the summer, with a revised course. The 1987 event went well, but crowds were down and the enthusiasm of downtown merchants had ebbed. It was never repeated.

The Pre-Prix was sponsored by the Uptown Saline Association along with other summer events including the Liberty Festival, Flower Day and the Brecon Parade. Parking proceeds were given to local service organizations to use for youth and community projects.

The photo in Council Chambers also gives a sampling of Saline businesses in 1986. Visible in the photo looking northwest are Randy’s Shoes, Dr. Gary Deo Optometry, Campbell’s Variety Store and Citizen’s Trust Bank (now Key Bank).

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Mayor Brian Marl purchased the photograph from d2 Saline and donated it to the city. At Monday evening’s council meeting, Janet Deaton and council member Linda TerHaar (a member of the Arts and Culture Committee) assisted Marl in unveiling the unframed print. Mrs. Deaton talked about her and her husband’s business, d2 Saline. She said that there have been so many requests for Dell’s photos of Saline that they decided there was a market for them. The photos are for sale and will be on display at the Huntington Bank building, on Saturdays and by appointment.

Dell Deaton came to Saline from Ohio as a child. He graduated in Saline High School class of 1981, along with council member Dean Girbach, and has been in Saline ever since.

Marl suggested that for the future the city might consider an art wall at City Hall featuring works with a Saline theme created by various local artists.

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Bob Conradi's picture
Bob Conradi Is a retired pharmaceutical scientist who has redefined himself as a photographer and journalist. He has lived in Michigan for 36 years and in the Saline area for 10. He enjoys researching and learning about new ideas. Reach him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @RobertConradi.