Aerial view of Occoneechee Speedway in 1955
|Location||Elizabeth Brady, 0.3 N of US 70 Business, Hillsborough, North Carolina, United States|
|Owner||Classical American Homes Preservation Trust|
|Opened||May 5, 1947|
|Former names||Orange Speedway|
|Major events||Hillsboro 150 (1949–1968)|
|Length||0.9 mi (1.5 km)|
|Area||44 acres (18 ha)|
|NRHP reference #||02000435|
|Added to NRHP||May 2, 2002|
It is located just outside the town of Hillsborough, North Carolina.
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.
Bill France noticed the horse racing track and expanse of open land while piloting his airplane. On the site of the earlier horse track, he built a 0.9-mile dirt 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 loss off the Speedway later made Bill France look for a new spot in the area to build a bigger, better, and faster Speedway of speeds in excess of Daytona International Speedway. Eventually he looked towards South Carolina and eventually Alabama where he built the Talladega Superspeedway which opened a year later where it took Occoneechee Speedway’s date on the schedule.
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. A walking trail was built in 2003 that crisscrosses the clay track. A non-profit local group, The Historic Speedway Group, continues to organize volunteers to renovate historic structures and maintain the track and trails. The group has collected an impressive archive of videos, photographs, and historical information about the site.
In 1968, Richard Petty won the last race held at the track, which by that time was called The Orange Speedway. The Occoneechee/Orange speedway, along with North Wilkesboro Speedway, is one of the inspirations for the Thomasville Speedway in the Pixar movie Cars 3 in which Petty voices the character Strip Weathers.
|Race||Date||Cars||Winner||Make / Model||Length||Miles||Purse||Pole||Speed (mph)|
|1949-03||08/07/49||28||Bob Flock||1948 Oldsmobile||1.000||200||$5,000||76.800|
|1950-10||08/13/50||27||Fireball Roberts||1949 Oldsmobile||1.000||100||$3,975|
|1950-19||10/29/50||29||Lee Petty||1949 Plymouth||1.000||175||$4,675||85.898|
|1951-05||04/15/51||33||Fonty Flock||1950 Oldsmobile||1.000||95||$4,665||88.287||80.889|
|1951-31||10/07/51||24||Herb Thomas||1951 Hudson||1.000||150||$3,550||79.628||72.454|
|1952-15||06/08/52||19||Tim Flock||1951 Hudson||1.000||100||$3,425||91.977||81.008|
|1952-30||10/12/52||29||Fonty Flock||1952 Oldsmobile||1.000||150||$5,045||75.901||73.489|
|1953-26||08/09/53||19||Curtis Turner||1953 Oldsmobile||1.000||100||$3,425||89.078||75.125|
|1954-08||04/18/54||28||Herb Thomas||1954 Hudson||1.000||100||$3,825||86.767||77.386|
|1955-07||03/27/55||21||Jim Paschal||1955 Oldsmobile||1.000||100||$3,800||91.896||82.304|
|1955-45||10/30/55||25||Tim Flock||1955 Chrysler||1.000||100||$4,285||81.673||70.465|
|1956-17||05/13/56||31||Buck Baker||1956 Chrysler||.900||90||$4,285||89.305||83.720|
|1956-50||09/30/56||23||Fireball Roberts||1956 Ford||.900||99||$4,560||88.067||72.734|
|1957-07||03/24/57||19||Buck Baker||1957 Chevrolet||.900||99||$3,835||87.828||82.233|
|1958-06||03/23/58||18||Buck Baker||1957 Chevrolet||.900||99||$3,585||83.076||78.502|
|1958-47||09/28/58||33||Joe Eubanks||1957 Pontiac||.900||99||$3,885||87.308||72.439|
|1959-04||03/01/59||22||Curtis Turner||1959 T-Bird||.900||99||$3,785||87.544||81.612|
|1959-40||09/20/59||22||Lee Petty||1959 Plymouth||.900||99||$3,945||85.533||77.868|
|1960-18||05/29/60||23||Lee Petty||1960 Plymouth||.900||99||$3,985||88.190||83.583|
|1960-39||09/18/60||18||Richard Petty||1960 Plymouth||.900||99||$3,785||85.285||80.161|
|1961-11||04/02/61||20||Cotton Owens||1960 Pontiac||.900||99||$3,895||91.836||84.695|
|1961-52||10/29/61||20||Joe Weatherly||1961 Pontiac||.900||149||$5,625||95.154||85.249|
|1962-09||03/18/62||21||Rex White||1961 Chevrolet||.900||99||$4,575||96.285||86.948|
|1963-10||03/10/63||23||Junior Johnson||1963 Chevrolet||.900||149||$6,900||95.716||83.129|
|1963-54||10/27/63||24||Joe Weatherly||1963 Pontiac||.900||150||$6,650||93.156||85.559|
|1964-15||04/12/64||27||David Pearson||1964 Dodge||.900||150||$6,800||99.784||83.319|
|1964-55||09/20/64||28||Ned Jarrett||1964 Ford||.900||150||$7,000||89.280||86.725|
|1965-08||03/14/65||23||Ned Jarrett||1965 Ford||.900||150||$6,600||98.570||90.663|
|1965-53||10/24/65||20||Dick Hutcherson||1965 Ford||.900||101||$4,540||98.810||87.462|
|1966-45||09/18/66||23||Dick Hutcherson||1966 Ford||.900||150||$6,600||95.716||90.603|
|1967-44||09/17/67||28||Richard Petty||1967 Plymouth||.900||150||$6,850||94.159||81.574|
|1968-43||09/15/68||24||Richard Petty||1968 Plymouth||.900||150||$6,900||93.245||87.681|
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
- Brief History, Page 1
- Brief History, Page 2
- Jennifer Martin and Sarah Woodard, and Virginia Freeze (August 2001). "Occoneechee Speedway" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places — Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
- Cruze, Sidney. "Kickin' Up Dust Again at the Orange Speedway, North Carolina Electric Cooperatives, 2004-01. Accessed 2017-12-26.
- "History Speedway Group: History". Historic Speedway Group. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
- Mark Vaughn (May 22, 2017). "'Cars 3' will pay tribute to abandoned 'ghost' tracks". AutoWeek.
- Occoneechee-Orange Speedway — Magazine (Speedway Spotlite Publications) by Ed Sanseverino (1994)