Many people might remember what happened
in years gone by, but how did it all
begin ? In an interview with Al Gore, owner of the 3/8 mile speedway, some
interesting history was uncovered. Way back in April 1952, a 22 acre plot was purchased
which contained what was the Longview Speedway. It was a little over a quarter of a mile
long and was a dirt track, and was basically flat. Right from the start, Mr.Gore paved the
track, and added a little length to it, making it into what is still a 3/8 mile oval. By
the way, the 3/8 mile length is measured 6 feet from the apron of the race track. " I
can remember when we had to work on the grandstands and put up the fence. I think I got
about 25 hours sleep in the 3 weeks prior to opening night. When we woke up on opening
day, there was no fence, and we put up the entire fence in that day." The cars back
then were called roadsters, opened cockpit racers, primitive compared to the standards of
today, but just as competitive. Drivers like brothers Bill and Wes Morgan, Ches Wilkins,
and Shorty Bowers were regulars. 3 years later, the roadsters were replaced with
Modifieds, flat-head Ford motors as the powerplants. Wally Gore, Al's brother, Joe Wright,
and Red Fowler started the Northern Virginia Stock Car Club shortly thereafter, and stock
cars became the way of life around the speedway. The list of drivers who have raced at the
speedway is like a who's who of auto racing; Richard and Lee Petty, David Pearson, Curtis
Turner, Bobby Allison, Joe Weatherly, the late Neil Bonnett, Darrell Waltrip, Michael
Waltrip, Morgan Shephard, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, and the late Tiny Lund. Lund raced
at the speedway the night before he was tragically killed at Talladega Superspeedway in
1975. " I can remember Tiny leaving the track with a big jug of my mom's chili under
each arm," recalls Dick Gore, promoter of the speedway. Jarrett won a race in the mid
60's that was 500 laps. "That was one of my father's ideas," says Gore.
The last Grand National (now Winston Cup) race held at the speedway was in 1967. "
The tracks were getting bigger, the cars were getting faster, and the crowds were too big
for us to handle, so we were forced to drop the G.N. circuit in 1967," says Mr. Gore.
A little trivia: Who holds the Grand National (now Winston Cup) qualifying record at ODS ?
The Silver Fox, David Pearson. The Late Model Sportsman and Limited Sportsman divisions,
along with some support classes ran until 1979, when track promoter Dick Gore came up with
an idea for a class that would become one of the fastest growing divisions in NASCAR.
" They said it would never work," says Gore, referring to the Late Model Stock
Car division. But work it did as it became one of the most popular divisions, spreading
throughout the country. The 1979 season was the first full season for the class, and
current driver Billy Earl was the first ever Winston Series Late Model Stock Car champion
at ODS. 1996 marked the year that the first ever NASCAR regional champion came from the
speedway, as Wes Troup from Riverdale Md. represented the Old Dominion Speedway in
Nashville, Tennessee as the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Northeast Regional champion. The
Late Model Sportsman (now Busch Grand National) ran their final event in 1980. The Late
Models were and still are the premier division at the track, along with the Redman Fleet
Service Grand Stocks, D & K Electric / Aldie Construction Mini Stocks,and the Gaston
Automotive Speedway Sportsman. The 2001 season marked the 4th year in a row that the
Legends cars competed, with 9 race dates for the motorcycle engine powered machines. A
first ever Legends track champion was crowned at ODS in 2000, 15 year old Marty Armin Jr.
The 2001 season also was highlighted by yet another teen-age champion in the Legends
division as Kyle Hendershott from Fairfax Va. took home the track championship on the
final night of racing.