Occoneechee Speedway

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Occoneechee Speedway
Occoneechee Speedway straightaway.jpg
Location Hillsborough, North Carolina
Owner Preservation North Carolina
Operator Closed
Opened May 5, 1947
Closed June 1968
Former names Orange Speedway
Major events Hillsboro 150 (1949-1968)
Length 1.5 km (0.9 mi)

Occoneechee Speedway was one of the first two NASCAR tracks to open. It closed in 1968 and is the only dirt track remaining from the inaugural 1949 season.[1]

It is located just outside the town of Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Site history[edit]

The Occoneechee farm occupied the land in the late 19th century. The farm was named after the Occaneechi Indians that lived in the area in the late 17th century and late 18th century. The landowner, Julian S. Carr, raced horses, and built a half mile horse racing track.[2]

Bill France noticed the horse racing track and expanse of open land while piloting his airplane.[2] On the site of the earlier horse track, he built a 0.9 dirt mile track in September, 1947, two months before NASCAR was organized. In its earliest days, Fonty Flock and his brothers Bob and Tim dominated the track. Louise Smith became NASCAR's first female driver at the track in the fall of 1949.

The Occoneechee Speedway hosted stock car racing legends such as Fireball Roberts, Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson.

The track was renamed Orange Speedway in 1954.[3]

The horse racetrack on Occoneechee farm, 1938
"The "improved" horse racetrack, enlarged to the north for auto racing, 1955

In part due the resistance of the local religious authorities, William France Sr. finally gave up on the Occoneechee Speedway. On September 15, 1968 France shut down the operation after Richard Petty's win.[3] He moved to Alabama, where he had bought an 1,800-acre (7 km2) site forty miles east of Birmingham. There he built the biggest and fastest NASCAR track of them all: the famous Talladega Superspeedway.

The Occoneechee Speedway site is now heavily forested with pines and sycamores. The grandstands are still visible, as is much of the mile–long oval track. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and now comprises 44 acres (180,000 m2) with over 3 miles (4.8 km) of trails.[1] A walking trail was built in 2003 that crisscrosses the clay track.

Winners[edit]

Race Date Cars Winner Make / Model Length Miles Purse Pole Speed (mph)
1949-03 08/07/49 28 Bob Flock '48 Oldsmobile 1.000 200 $5,000 76.800
1950-10 08/13/50 27 Fireball Roberts '49 Oldsmobile 1.000 100 $3,975
1950-19 10/29/50 29 Lee Petty '49 Plymouth 1.000 175 $4,675 85.898
1951-05 04/15/51 33 Fonty Flock '50 Oldsmobile 1.000 95 $4,665 88.287 80.889
1951-31 10/07/51 24 Herb Thomas '51 Hudson 1.000 150 $3,550 79.628 72.454
1952-15 06/08/52 19 Tim Flock '51 Hudson 1.000 100 $3,425 91.977 81.008
1952-30 10/12/52 29 Fonty Flock '52 Oldsmobile 1.000 150 $5,045 75.901 73.489
1953-26 08/09/53 19 Curtis Turner '53 Oldsmobile 1.000 100 $3,425 89.078 75.125
1954-08 04/18/54 28 Herb Thomas '54 Hudson 1.000 100 $3,825 86.767 77.386
1955-07 03/27/55 21 Jim Paschal '55 Oldsmobile 1.000 100 $3,800 91.896 82.304
1955-45 10/30/55 25 Tim Flock '55 Chrysler 1.000 100 $4,285 81.673 70.465
1956-17 05/13/56 31 Buck Baker '56 Chrysler .900 90 $4,285 89.305 83.720
1956-50 09/30/56 23 Fireball Roberts '56 Ford .900 99 $4,560 88.067 72.734
1957-07 03/24/57 19 Buck Baker '57 Chevrolet .900 99 $3,835 87.828 82.233
1958-06 03/23/58 18 Buck Baker '57 Chevrolet .900 99 $3,585 83.076 78.502
1958-47 09/28/58 33 Joe Eubanks '57 Pontiac .900 99 $3,885 87.308 72.439
1959-04 03/01/59 22 Curtis Turner '59 T-Bird .900 99 $3,785 87.544 81.612
1959-40 09/20/59 22 Lee Petty '59 Plymouth .900 99 $3,945 85.533 77.868
1960-18 05/29/60 23 Lee Petty '60 Plymouth .900 99 $3,985 88.190 83.583
1960-39 09/18/60 18 Richard Petty '60 Plymouth .900 99 $3,785 85.285 80.161
1961-11 04/02/61 20 Cotton Owens '60 Pontiac .900 99 $3,895 91.836 84.695
1961-52 10/29/61 20 Joe Weatherly '61 Pontiac .900 149 $5,625 95.154 85.249
1962-09 03/18/62 21 Rex White '61 Chevrolet .900 99 $4,575 96.285 86.948
1963-10 03/10/63 23 Junior Johnson '63 Chevrolet .900 149 $6,900 95.716 83.129
1963-54 10/27/63 24 Joe Weatherly '63 Pontiac .900 150 $6,650 93.156 85.559
1964-15 04/12/64 27 David Pearson '64 Dodge .900 150 $6,800 99.784 83.319
1964-55 09/20/64 28 Ned Jarrett '64 Ford .900 150 $7,000 89.280 86.725
1965-08 03/14/65 23 Ned Jarrett '65 Ford .900 150 $6,600 98.570 90.663
1965-53 10/24/65 20 Dick Hutcherson '65 Ford .900 101 $4,540 98.810 87.462
1966-45 09/18/66 23 Dick Hutcherson '66 Ford .900 150 $6,600 95.716 90.603
1967-44 09/17/67 28 Richard Petty '67 Plymouth .900 150 $6,850 94.159 81.574
1968-43 09/15/68 24 Richard Petty '68 Plymouth .900 150 $6,900 93.245 87.681

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Occoneechee-Orange Speedway by Ed Sanseverino

External links[edit]

Occoneechee-Orange Speedway - Magazine (Speedway Spotlite Publications) by Ed Sanseverino (1994)