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. 2003 saw the sale of the Old Dominion Speedway to Steve Britt and Charles Graybeal, ending a family tradition that will remain that will not be forgotten.
Old Dominion Speedway - Years In Review
Over the years, the Old Dominion Speedway has provided the area with exciting NASCAR Racing Series action, Saturday night style. This is where the local driver can come out, try his hand at driving a powerful stock car, and maybe, just maybe, move forward into racing as not only a hobby, but as a way to make a living.
Many drivers who have competed on the 3/8 mile oval, formerly owned by the Gore family for over 50 years, have went on to make it big in the top rank Winston Cup Circuit. Drivers like Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Morgan Shephard, the Burton brothers, and of course the “King” Richard Petty. By the way, 2 of Petty’s official 200 wins are at the Old Dominion Speedway. Other Winston Cup drivers who have visited victory lane include Ned Jarrett (a 500 lap event), Junior Johnson, and the late Elmo Langley. The following is just a glimpse of the action over the past 24 years at Virginia’s Supertrack, the Old Dominion Speedway. Just click on the year and get a brief wrap up of that year.