Historical Markers StoppingPoints.com Historical Markers, Sightseeing & Points of Interest Scenic Roads & Points of Interest
About Us | Photo Gallery | Free Widgets | Featured States | Search Site
Home North Carolina Mecklenburg County City of Charlotte Historical Markers Charlotte Speedway

Charlotte Speedway

Little Rock Road at I-85, Charlotte, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Dirt track hosted, on June 19, 1949, inaugural "Strictly Stock" race, launching NASCAR sanctioned series. 3/4-mile track was 200 yds. W."
     In recent years stock car racing had an annual economic impact of over $5 billion in North Carolina. About 12,000 North Carolinians make their living in related businesses. Founded in Florida in 1947, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has grown from a sport focused on the Southeast to the second (after the National Football League) most watched sport on television.

     On June 19, 1949, NASCAR held its first race in its top division—at the time called “Strictly Stock,” changed to “Grand National” in 1950, to Winston Cup in 1971, and now the Nextel Cup—at the 3/4 mile dirt track at the “New” Charlotte Speedway. The field of thirty-three drivers included North Carolinians Buck Baker, Jim Paschal, Lee Petty, and Herb Thomas. Cars were required to be late model—1946 or newer—full-size, American-made sedans, with very few modifications allowed. Earlier stock car races in the South were contested by heavily modified automobiles, mostly 1930s vintage Ford V-8’s. The intention of promoter Bill France was that the race provide a test of driving skill in cars similar to those actually driven by racing fans.

     Lee Petty on lap 107 carried too much speed into the third turn and rolled his Buick. On lap 151, Glenn Dunnaway took his Ford into the lead and finished first. However, the victory did not stand. Officials conducting a post-race inspection found altered rear springs, disqualified Dunnaway, and declared second place finisher Jim Roper the winner. It was later revealed that the springs had been modified in a manner common to cars used to haul moonshine. The car owner challenged NASCAR’s decision and filed a lawsuit. The judge’s decision in favor of NASCAR gave the organization official sanction in enforcing its rules and positioned it as the leading sanctioning organization in stock car racing.

     The crowd of 13,000-plus fans confirmed NASCAR founder Bill France’s conviction that people would flock to see late-model sedans race and that a “Strictly Stock” series could be viable. The success of the Charlotte race led France to promote seven more “Strictly Stock” races that year, forming the foundation for NASCAR. The Charlotte Speedway would continue to be an important stop for the tour until construction of the Charlotte (now Lowes) Motor Speedway in 1960.

Greg Fielden, Forty Years of Stock Car Racing, 5 volumes (1988)
Charlotte Observer, June 10-19, 1949
National Speed Sport News, 1943-1997
Richard Petty with William Neely, King Richard I: Autobiography of America’s Greatest Auto Racer (1986)