In 1945, John Nuckles and Robert Roseberry purchased 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land for site of the future race track. The track opened in 1946 as a dirt track for motorcycles. In 1950 the track was given lighting and in 1957, the track was paved for the first time as car racing, specifically stock car racing, became more popular. Robert Roseberry sold his portion to John Nuckles after the paving was complete. The track was run by the Nuckles for many years, and is still owned and operated by the Nuckles family. Among the drivers to make their names at the CMS are, Neal Sceva, Dick Freeman, Benny Parsons and Ralph O'Day. Among those killed at Columbus Motor speedway is Bessie E. Amos.
It also hosts many exhibition events, which are some of the most popular attractions, including trailer races, school bus figure-eight races, demolition derbies, "roll over" contests, monster truck stunt rallies, "powder-puff" races, and NASCAR "legends" races which feature famous Sprint Cup drivers. Due to the relatively high compensation required to secure Sprint Cup driver participation in the NASCAR "legends" races, said events have not occurred for several years and may not occur in the future. However, starting in 2011, NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East visits the speedway during its tour.
The race track made national headlines on April 11, 2009, when the concrete platform that supported the announcer's box collapsed shortly after the gate opened. One person was temporarily stuck in the rubble, and six people suffered minor injuries at the season-opening event. Local rescue workers were called to the scene and the events were canceled for the evening. Since the incident the platform has been repaired and reinforced.