Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Occoneechee Speedway, Hillsborough, North Carolina

This may look like a walking trail through the North Carolina woods, but it is actually one of the first three NASCAR speedways from the inaugural season of 1949 and the only one that still remains. It is a one-mile oval dirt track that once hosted the likes of Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Junior Johnson and Joe Weatherly. It was such a famous racetrack for stock car racing that when Junior won in 1961, Jayne Mansfield handed him the trophy.

The raceway closed in 1968 and soon became overgrown and forgotten. The trees in the center weren't there during the 20 years that the speedway was in use, but now it has become heavily forested in the 40 years since its closure.

When the site was threatened with destruction in 2003 (the state wanted to run a major road through there), it was purchased by a consortium of private conservationists and public organizations and turned into a city park with the dirt track now a walking trail. But once or twice a year, for old times sake, they will run a race with historic stock cars.

A Replica of the Original Flag Stand

The Original Concrete Grandstand with the Officials' Booth
Another Snapshot of the Grandstand


Carolina said...

That is so interesting! How nice that it is still used sometimes. Shame you didn't put a human in the first photo, so you could see the scale of the track. It seems far too narrow to drive a car over it. And how wonderful that it's been bought and rescued by people who care so it can be enjoyed.

Karen said...

Carolina: The only other person out there was a woman running along the track and I never thought to take a picture since you're right, it doesn't look wide enough for cars to race.

dinahmow said...

What Carolins said;always good to see people saving wooded places.