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Fading Thunder...Abandoned Racetracks in Virginia and the Carolinas

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by phartman, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. AREA51SD
    Joined: Jul 1, 2009
    Posts: 99

    AREA51SD
    Member

    Was wondering if anybody knows about the track that was in Salisbury,NC. Restoring a building for my shop and started talking to the City Development office and he sent a photo of my shop back in 1956 with a Race track that used to be on the next property over. Looking at the picture it was a dirt/clay oval track with banking in the corners. Does anyone know or have heard about this track. I have tried the internet and found nothing.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  2. cherokee
    Joined: May 23, 2010
    Posts: 12

    cherokee
    Member

    Oh yeah, I have a post here http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?p=7081967#post7081967 about Salisbury Speedway. it's post 239. I used to go there as a kid with my dad.
     
  3. AREA51SD
    Joined: Jul 1, 2009
    Posts: 99

    AREA51SD
    Member

    Thanks Oldengine (PM) & Cherokee, now I have some History about the Property. Now I just have to figure out how I missed your post.

    Thanks; Paul B
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  4. cherokee
    Joined: May 23, 2010
    Posts: 12

    cherokee
    Member

    Glad I was able to help some.
     
  5. Something that we haven't brought up, but it was around the hot rod/race track/streetrace scene- way back when- was the crossover between the car guys and the motorcycle guys. Lots and lots of car guys started out as motorcycle guys. Harleys and Triumphs all over the place in Raleigh where I grew up.

    And always lurking in the background were the motorcycle clubs and gangs. In Virginia and the Carolinas? Early on?

    Oh yeah. It wasn't just in California. And here in the East it wasn't just the Hell's Angels who were causing a ruckus.

    I ran across this old photograph in an antique store in Mechanicsville, VA yesterday and had to buy it. A photo of the notorius Confederate Angels from Richmond, in front of the Carillon WW I monument near downtown at Byrd Park. I am guessing this was taken around the mid to late 1960s (note that only one of the members has long hair). Maybe '66 or '67 or so. That peace symbol is not part of the original photograph and looks like it was added later.

    More on the motorcycle-hod rod connection to follow....

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  6. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,599

    frank spittle
    Member

    A good example of motorcycle to cars is Joe Leonard. He is, IMHO, one of the greatest racers of all time. He dominated American Motorcycle Racing in the '50s with championships in '54, '56 and '57. He won the AMA Daytona 200 in '57 and '58 and had a total of 27 wins before retiring at the end of the '61 season. He was now married and the father of two and felt he should not race motorcycles. But he had a good career on four wheels too in USAC and NASCAR. He drove in the INDY 500 from '64-'74 and set on the pole in '68. He also drove Stockers in both sanctions.

    Paul Goldsmith was another motorcycle racer who had a successful career racing cars after 2-wheelers.
     
  7. Paul Goldsmith at Richmond...

    [​IMG]

    And at Princess Anne, VA, down East in the Tidewater area...

    [​IMG]
     
  8. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,599

    frank spittle
    Member

    I knew Buck Brigance who lived in Charlotte until his death in his 70s. He was a great guy who had retired from motorcycle racing when I started. He hung out at Creech H-D in Charlotte who sponsored him back in the day. He was truly a living legend to the motorcycle enthusiasts. He never drag raced but seemed interested in what I was doing.
     
  9. DaveHFulton
    Joined: Sep 23, 2011
    Posts: 43

    DaveHFulton
    Member

    I used to do a lot of NASCAR marketing and PR work with Buck's daughter, Darlene in Charlotte. In fact, she secured the Exide Battery sponsorship for Jeff Burton/Jack Roush and for the September Richmond races. Before that she was employed in the Charlotte Motor Speedway Marketing office.

    When I met Buck, he was working on Buddy Baker's NASCAR pit crew and employed at Radiator Specialty on Wilkinson Boulevard in Charlotte. Buck was the gasman in 1980 when Buddy won the Daytona 500. He punched a hole in the bottom of the fuel can on the final gas only stop for Buddy to get the gas in faster.

    The funniest story I have ever heard in racing was when former Winston Cup director Dick Beaty and Buck were returning from a motorcycle race at Strawberry Hiil to Charlotte in the 50s. They had a wreck in South Boston and Dick's nose was cut off.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012
  10. rust rejuvinator
    Joined: Nov 9, 2008
    Posts: 20

    rust rejuvinator
    Member
    from Hialeah FL

    My Dad raced in the Richmond Va back in the 50,s Charles W Childress any of the older Gents heard of him.
     
  11. edweird
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 3,188

    edweird
    Member

    phartman. theres a thread on face book called remembering blaney drag strip with tons of pics. thanks to quain stott for telling me about, heres some samples
     

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  12. edweird
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 3,188

    edweird
    Member

    some more.
     

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  13. edweird
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 3,188

    edweird
    Member

    more yet
     

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  14. edweird
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 3,188

    edweird
    Member

    this car made a lasting impression on me when i was a kid, 267 ci small block with a 5 speed. 10,000 rpm's at the line and then dump the clutch. that was one sweet sounding camaro.its etched in my brain!:eek:
     

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  15. Can't find anything on him. What more can you tell us? Like to hear his story.

    Pete
     
  16. That blue T-bird is badddddd...thanks for posting the pics. Terrific.

    Pete
     
  17. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    I am going to put up a old Hickory Speedway Program. It has some pictures with some faces. In no particular order....a 1950 program.....

    $T2eC16hHJF0E9nmFTMCpBQorEGYHBw~~60_57.jpg

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    $(KGrHqFHJEwFB)eKOfbQBQorEEYMLQ~~60_57.jpg

    $(KGrHqZHJC4FCFeBRLt2BQorD8kIlg~~60_57.jpg

    $T2eC16dHJHgE9n0yHD2zBQorEEoGHg~~60_57.jpg

    $T2eC16FHJF0E9nmFQUsDBQorDZepbg~~60_57.jpg

    $T2eC16VHJIQE9qUHtG6gBQorD0ESug~~60_57.jpg
     
  18. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    one more , click on them to get them bigger.

    $T2eC16FHJGwE9n)ySeQ9BQorDo,U+!~~60_57.jpg

    $(KGrHqZ,!gwFCd(Cbn,,BQorD23s8Q~~60_57.jpg

    $T2eC16JHJHwE9n8igtftBQorD9TzRQ~~60_57.jpg

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    $T2eC16JHJGoE9nuQeW31BQorDpUed!~~60_57.jpg
     
  19. rc.grimes
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 698

    rc.grimes
    Member
    from Edmond, OK

    I wanted to add a bit of info on Oak Level/Fork Mountain Raceway. French Grimes is my Uncle and I have great respect for the man as well as what he has done for motorsports. On earlier posts it was said that they only hold one race a year there now. I ask folks to read the information below to understand why not only Fork Mountain is in this situation, but what most independantly owned tracks face.

    Oak Level Raceway originally was built as a drag strip in the late 50’s, a portion of which can still be seen on the land adjacent to the current OLR property. The track was operated successfully for a number of years, the drag strip eventually being replaced by a quarter mile dirt oval.

    The track closed in the late 1970’s. Tim Willis reopened and improved the track in the early 90’s. Bethel Mason purchased the track before the 1994 season and operated it through the 2000 season. Marvin Young promoted OLR during that period. During the Mason/Young era, the track and racing were continuously improved. The track was lengthened before the 2000 season, becoming a tight 3/8 mile track. Several other improvements were completed. Bethel Mason tragically passed away in November, after being ill for most of 2000. The Mason family decided to sell OLR to concentrate on their successful paving and excavating business.
    Mike Schmidt purchased the facility from the Mason family in March, 2001. The Mason and Young families worked closely with Mike to get the 2001 season underway in May.
    Immediately after the 2001 season was completed, a major expansion project was initiated to widen the track surface and increase the radius of both turns. The result is a significantly wider D shaped tri-oval which was ready for action in 2002. The Track was again sold in 2005 and re-sold in 2009.

    It was after the sale in 2009 to French Grimes that the name was changed to Fork Mountain Raceway. I have all the admiration in the world for French and I have been disgusted with how some folks sought out ways to ruin the track and events that were held. The man worked hard his whole life to establish himself in motorsports and is highly respected by all who have dealt with him. When keyboard commando's started rallying supporters to destroy the facility and harm staff, French closed the doors for events except the national event he owns. Despite the debt created from operating costs of the track and serious health issues French has endured during the last year, I am sure he is not giving up on his dream.

    Below is a link to the tracks site which has a letter from French explaining issues surrounding Fork Mountain Raceway.



    http://www.forkmountainraceway.com/news.cfm?newsKey=48
     
  20. Well said, R.C. and best of good wishes to your Uncle French.
     
  21. Some guys never hang up their helmets. We saw Jack Ingram racing this past Summer at Kingsport (TN) Speedway. He's in his 70s now and he finished last but he was out there. You gotta respect a guy like that. We have only been in TN for a year or so having moved here from NH and my last racecar came from another guy who raced right into Social Security age. "Stub" Fadden from North Haverhill NH. We are making the rounds of the local tracks down here now. So far we've been to Kingsport and Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap. Bristol of course but I grew up at the hole in the wall short tracks and those are still the ones that feel like home to me. In NH it was the Pines in Wentworth & the Canaan Fairgrounds, Weds night races at the old Bryar Motorsport Park (now NHMS). My childhood was spent at places like Groveland & Riverside Park in Mass. Good times.
     
  22. Bandit, thanks for the post. Good to hear that the Iron Man- Jack Ingram- is still mixing it up. He's the real deal.
     
  23. A wonderful post by 'Mo on the Virginia Hamb Social Group page this morning about the closing of Bill's Barbeque here in Richmond, VA. Bill's was the streetracing/rodding/custom cruise-in spot for many, many years. But, alas, time changes everything. After more than 80 years, gone, gone, gone and it ain't coming back....

    [​IMG]

    In the sixties, Bill's played host to Richmond's own "American Graffitti".
    The restaurant across from "the Diamond" Ball Field (once Fairgrounds) was originally "Virginia Barbecue" Drive-In restaurant. There was always Auto activity here, particularly on weekends. This natural cruise-in circled southward, across the railroad overpass, toward Boulevard and Broad, where there was an all-night People's Drug Store (significant in a town that had no "liquor by the drink", i.e.,"night clubs").

    Behind the Drug Store was Bill's Barbecue drive-in restaurant. I don't know if it was the first, but it was the main one. The building at the back was where the meat was smoked for all the Bill's locations.

    If you're not familiar with Drive-In restaurants, you'd park your car facing the restaurant, and when you wanted service you'd leave your headlights on. A "carhop" (always female) would eventually come out and take your order, usually along with several others. You'd then turn off your lights, and wait until she returned with your order on a tray, which was designed to easily attach to the door of nearly any car of the era. You'd eat your meal in the car, and turn on your lights again for needed service. You might want to order a fine slice of pie, at either location. Who don't like pie?

    Both "Bill's" and "Virginia Barbecue" had corrigated rafters for parking under. (Remember, "Carhops".) While parked, you viewed a moving automotive panorama that circled not only the loop but each individual restaurant, quite often looking for street action.

    Sometimes a car would circle the drive-in three or four times, til someone finally pulled out behind them and followed them out of the parking lot to points unknown. (I was too far behind the curve to realize where these clandestine competitions actually took place, but there were well established venues.) If you stuck around, you could often tell the victor when he came cruising back, because his rival's night of cruising was over.

    Sunday nights were hot.
    I worked in the concession stand at Richmond Dragway, and often would see cars that had seen drag strip action that day cruising Bill's parking lot come Sunday evening. One car that sticks in my mind is a red '61 Ford, cruising in with the chalk numbers still on the windows from the drag action. B/S, if I remember correctly. If so, probably a 390 four speed car, given the hood scoop and fender-well headers.

    I mentioned the rafters. Those at the Virginia location (which was eventually bought by Bill's, to become "Bill's Virginia Barbecue") were infamous for the unauthorised "Rappp" sessions that occurred, due the renowned potential (well deserved) of literally "Shaking the Rafters" with the required DcB's of exhaust note. It was a beautiful thing! (Think Aolean Harp!)

    Custom or Hot Rod, if I saw it in Richmond, I like as not saw it at Bill's.
    Richmond may seem small change, but was a gateway city. My roots here run deep. Grandad had a BBQ stand in NC, which is known for its BBQ. Tar Heels learned in school the three R's; "Readin', Right'n, and Road to Richmond." To proclaim "VIRGINIA BBQ" was heady stuff, and an all night drugstore, too? I'm tellin' ya, this was the stuff!

    Alas, when the Bill's Virginia Drive-In first denied service to motorcycle patronage, I could see the "Rightin'" on the wall. Next went the carhops, then the rafters. Now, sadly, inevitably, Bill's itself. Sail on, oh ship of state!
    Report
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  24. Photo of Bill's Barbeque on Broad St. The action was always at the main location- not this one- just off the Boulevard, at Meyers Street. This location had more of a family atmosphere. The hoodlums stayed away.

    Tastes changed, barbeque joints changed, the Richardson Family lost interest in the business, and you know the rest of the story.

    [​IMG]

    Don and Phil Everly said it absolutely the best:

    Some sunny day-hay baby
    When everything seems okay, baby
    Youll wake up and find out youre alone
    Cause Ill be gone
    Gone, gone, gone really gone
    Gone, ga-gone, cause you done me wrong



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgo--jwFi6k
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  25. DaveHFulton
    Joined: Sep 23, 2011
    Posts: 43

    DaveHFulton
    Member

    As posted at www.Coastal181.com


    #681 - In his latest book with Bones Bourcier, Bill Simpson is just as ornery as ever. But so much of what he says carries that resilient ring of the truth. Here’s what he says about this image: “Every time I see one of today’s spoiled brat racers climb out of the family toterhome, I want to remind them just how easy they’ve got things. I once hauled my dragster from Los Angeles to Virginia with this fancy rig.” From THROUGH THE FIRE, by Bill Simpson with Bones Bourcier. (Bill Simpson Collection)
     

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  26. jtm64
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 165

    jtm64
    Member

    Anyone have any pictures from Craigsville Speedway "the Bullring " from the late 50's? I believ it was jsut outside of Staunton VA, thanks
     
  27. DaveHFulton
    Joined: Sep 23, 2011
    Posts: 43

    DaveHFulton
    Member

    I found a photo of the Craig Drive-In movie theater that said the advertisng sign also advertised Sunday Stock Car races.
     
  28. The stock car track was at the back of Hiway Drive In, on VA Route 42 near Craigsville.


     
  29. BSL409
    Joined: Aug 28, 2011
    Posts: 467

    BSL409
    Member

  30. DaveHFulton
    Joined: Sep 23, 2011
    Posts: 43

    DaveHFulton
    Member

    As posted at "Cinema Treasures"

    Located to the west of Craigsville on Highway 42. The tiny Craig Drive-In was opened in 1953 by John M. Herndon. It was renamed Hi Way Drive-In in 1965. There was a dirt stock-car race track located at the rear of the drive-in.
    Today, the site is derelict and overgrown.
     

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