In the checkered history of the Speedway through the second half of the century, Harrin would participate in the operation of the track as an owner on three different occasions.
"Track director Harry Clay was surprised at the over capacity crowd and pleased with the excitement of the sportsman and amateur races.
"The new four tenths mile Asheville Motor Speedway in West Asheville held its first race Saturday night before a standing room only crowd of 4,000 spectators as Charlie Silvers of Woodfin won the hotly contested 40 lap sportsman feature.
Though little can be seen of the old track today, it survived for several years, though its schedule of events, as well as its history, has become sketchy at best.
(article originally appeared on April 16, 1999)
from drivers losing control on the front straightaway. Clay, a member of the sponsoring Asheville Racing Corp., whose construction company built the dirt oval, was the first driver to nearly take a swim in the French Broad River which borders the back straighaway. Clay narrowly missed going off the high bank and into the stream.
"A protest was filed with NASCAR official Robby Combs. Upon checking Noland's engine, Combs disqualified him and Silvers was acclaim winner. Adkins from Burnsville was second followed by the Ashevilleans Bob Browning and Dick Plemmons.
Asheville Weaverville Speedway, located where North Buncombe High School now stands, was one of the legendary stops on the early NASCAR trail and survived into the 1960s when a group of Asheville businessmen including Jim Harrin, Max Wilson, Bob Furey and Dr. Owen purchased the property upon which a quarter mile drag strip had existed off Amboy Road and developed a quarter mile enclosed dirt track.
"We got so dusty and dirty in all that red clay out there watching them race that your wife didn't want you to come in the house when you got home," Harrin once remembered.
Harrin himself developed his interest in the sport at Asheville Weaverville where he was regularly in attendance.
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"I remember going out there and just walking into the woods beside where the backstretch was and just sitting there for free watching races," Ingram said.
"The sportsman featured provided the top action of the seven races as the lead changed hands four times. Popular Asheville driver Cecil Bidix started in the number one position along with Roy Trantham. Henderson's Jimmy Wheelon passed Biddix in the eighth lap and held the lead until the 10th when he flipped over after leaving the second Adidas Pure Boost White turn. Following Wheelon's wreck which put him out of the race, Biddix gained the lead again. he battled with Marion's Bert Nolan until the 38th lap when he smashed against the bank in the second turn and was unable to finish the race. Nolan remained in the first place spot for the remain two laps, but victory was not his.
´╗┐drivers get their break at AMS
Hall envisioned a speed facility that would attract stock cars, midgets, hot rods and motorcycles. The birth of NASCAR itself was still almost a year away.
The late Banjo Matthews, who was to become one of the sport's most respected builders of racing machines, once knocked Dickie Plemmons into the first base dugout when old Ford V8 coupes and the like raced on Saturday nights at McCormick Field were asphalt once encircled the baseball infield and outfield.
The July 12, 1948, edition of The Asheville Citizen carried a story and picture announcing that George F. Hall was building a half mile dirt track to be called Asheville Speedway on what formerly had been the Charles McBrayer property once known as Hollywood in the Fairview community east of Asheville.
"Fans got their money's worth from numerous spin outs and Adidas Pure Boost Base Green
"Barney Wells drove a '37 Chevy Coupe to a 15 lap consolation win. Cecil Biddix and Jimmy Wheelon were sportsman heat winners.
But the move, made originally to accommodate auto racing, left McCormick Field with what is now the shortest right field foul line a mere 300 feet in the South Atlantic League, and one of the shortest in all of baseball.
"Jerry McCauless drove home a winner in the amateur 30 lap feature. Charlie Crawford and Max Wilson, second and third respectively, furnished the action in this event as they battled neck and neck all the way.
"The first lap of the first heat gave fans an indication of what was on tap for the night as Plemmons and Robert Lowe of Clyde bumped fenders and spun out in the first turn nearly causing an eight car pileup."
"It was what we used to call an 'outlaw' track," said Asheville racing champion Jack Ingram whose own career would not begin in time to test the half mile dirt speedway. "One of the problems with Asheville Speedway was that nobody really had to pay to get in.
Junior Johnson, not long removed from his career as a high speed moonshine runner, raced here. So did Ralph Earnhardt and Ned Jarrett and Cotton Owens and David Pearson and Richard Petty and most of the people who were the stars when the sport emerged from the dust and the dirt of hard, red clay Southern tracks to become the superspeedway show it is today.
The first races were contested on the night of Saturday, July 2, 1960. His report:
Little has changed since that first race. It was expanded to become a one third mile paved track.
The history of automobile racing in Asheville is, in a sense, the history of the sport in the South because it was here, on dirt and asphalt at Asheville Weaverville Speedway and Asheville Motor Speedway also known as a time as the New Asheville Speedway that some of the legendary figures in the sport once came to make names for themselves.
As was the case with NASCAR itself, the early years of high speed racing were not easy in Asheville, and in a sense racing here predated the arrival of NASCAR as a widely accepted ruling body.
field dimensions for baseball at McCormick is the creation of auto racing. To make room for the track as it swept in front of the grandstand, home plate, the pitchers' mound and therefore the rest of the field had to be moved to its present location so that home plate is only slightly more than 26 feet from the backstop. It once was much closer.
But it wasn't all bad. When minor league baseball sought to attempt to standardize ballpark dimensions years later, local promoters discovered that McCormick Field was ahead of the curve. Organized baseball ruled that home plates should be no closer to Adidas Jeremy Scott Wings 2.0 White Black
When Asheville Weaverville, on the other side of town, opened in the mid 1950s complete with NASCAR sanctioning, Asheville Speedway was doomed. Asheville Speedway could not compete against Asheville Weaverville fields that frequently included Cotton Owens, Fireball Roberts, Wendell Scott, Jack Smith and other early NASCAR pioneers.
the nearest backstop than 26 feet. Without trying, McCormick was in compliance and it had auto racing to thank.
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