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Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail Nc

Reviewing: Historic Place Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail  |  Rating:
By Brian Carden on
Badge: Author | Level: 3 | Destinations Expertise:
Image for Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail - NC

When my wife I moved to Hillsborough North Carolina back in 1995 we found out that there once was a Nascar race track nearby. Bill France opened the track in 1948. Many of Nascar's pioneers raced there - Lee & Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Ralph Earnhardt, Tim Flock, Fireball Roberts and Wendell Scott just to name a few. The track closed in 1948 after much protest by some of the local residents. The track had been silent for about 35 years. Mother Nature had her own race there now, with growing grass and trees. While we were living in Hillsborough we had wanted to try and find the track - many times, even though the track had been overgrown with nature. We never did get a chance to find the race track. My wife and I moved to Durham North Carolina in 2003. Recently, as I was surfing the web I came across a website dedicated to the Historic Occoneechee Speedway. Back in 2002 the track was placed on National Register of Historic Places. Since 2002 the area where the track is located has been cleared. Trees have been removed and paths have been made. It is listed as the last remaining track of the inaurural Nascar season. Today, we decided to go to the Occoneechee Speedway trail as a family. When we got there we parked in a nice parking lot. There was a board that had a map of the trails and a map to take along. The trails were nicely marked and had fresh wood chips laid out. We figured that the wood chips came from the many trees that were cut down to preserve the site. There were several different trails for a total of 3 miles. We came across several building that had fallen down over time. There was a building that once was the concession stand. There was even evidence of a women's outhouse. We also saw the men's outhouse. There was an area where the ticket office once stood. The people that are part of the preservation were there today and said that they are going to be re-building the ticket office, concession stand and scoring stand. I can't wait to see what the finished product will look like. We saw an old light pole with rusted out metal lights. That probably once showed the way to the checkered flag. There was also either a speaker or light that was on a tree behind the cement grandstands. For the last 35 or so years trees had grown into and through the cement grandstands where many of the race fans had sat. Now the trees and other bushes have been removed from the grandstands. We actually sat down as a family and just imagined being there during the 40's, 50's and 60's watching Lee Petty and Ralph Earnhardt racing for the win. We walked down the steps to the area that had been cleared that once was the track. I could not believe that I was standing where these famous drivers once raced to put food on their families tables and clothes on their children's backs or just to be able to race the next race. There is a trail that goes along the path of the original 1 mile track. We all walked the one mile around. It did not seem like one mile. We were talking and looking around the whole time, trying to take all of this historic site in. When it was quiet we could hear the distance sound of traffic, we closed our eyes and imagined that the sound of the cars was coming from a race from long ago. We spent a wonderful day as a family today. It was wonderful weather and the kids did not complain about the 3 mile walk. We have already said that we will go back next year to see what type of improvements have been made. If you are a fan of Nascar or just love to walk trails this is a wonderful place to go. It just brings back a lot of memories for some and let's other see what things were like many years ago.