New Exhibition Takes Root at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: Grassroots Racing: Where NASCAR Heroes are Born
Hometown tracks are where NASCAR was born. Today we see mammoth structures like Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Bristol Motor Speedway. These tracks are normally associated with NASCAR because of their current slate on the schedule. But these are not the only tracks that have helped build NASCAR. Mom-and-pop tracks in small town America, known as “grassroots”, have really built the sport into what it is today.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame features a new exhibition this summer – Grassroots Racing: Where NASCAR Heroes are Born. The exhibition features four race tracks that have a place in the history of NASCAR. They are South Boston Speedway in South Boston, VA, Hickory Speedway in Hickory, NC, Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC and Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, SC. These tracks are where the blood, sweat and tears turned into opportunities to shine.
In addition to remembering the grassroots tracks because of their place in NASCAR history, there also are quirky and fun moments these small tracks have brought to the sport.
Hickory Speedway opened in 1951 and was the home track of legendary father and son combo, Ned and Dale Jarrett. A total of 35 Grand Premier races were held at Hickory from 1953-1971, but it was a Busch Series race that captured the attention of a national audience.
Overlooking Turn 1 of Hickory Speedway is the Catawba Memorial Park, a cemetery that holds NASCAR legend Bobby Isaac. The cemetery and the track reached an agreement: whenever there was a funeral, the engines had to be silent. The Busch Series was running the 1992 Mountain Dew 500 when the race was mysteriously red-flagged. It was soon announced that a funeral was in session and the race had to be red-flagged. The television announcers called it very “quaint.” Hickory Speedway’s slogan as the “World’s Most Famous Short Track” is possibly well-deserved due to this bizarre encounter that will forever live in NASCAR lore.