History, Excitement Score With Fans At Bowman Gray
Race fans are mad for Winston-Salem’s Madhouse: Bowman Gray Stadium.
The flat, tight quarter-mile track built inside a football stadium saw its first green flag fly over stock cars in the late 1940s, when the father of NASCAR, Bill France Sr., and Alvin Hawkins promoted the first race. Since then, the landmark track has put down miles of history and exciting racing action, earning it the nickname “Madhouse.” In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook wheeled their ways to 15 national championships in part by traveling from their race shops up North to compete at the stadium. Southern racing stars named Flock, Turner, Myers, Earnhardt and Petty all turned laps here. The Myers’s family lineage continues today as third-generation drivers Burt and Jason Myers compete – and win – weekly.
Bowman Gray | Photo courtesy of Eric Hylton Photography
Larger Tar Heel speedways let each driver show off his modified’s 650 horsepower. At Bowman Gray, where speeds barely get to the high double digits and passing is at a premium, drivers roll up their sleeves and bring “rubbin’ is racin’” to real time. On a track barely wide enough for two race cars to run next to one another, drivers bump, bang and spin competitors out of their ways as they charge to the front of the pack. Claiming a win and a piece of history at NASCAR’s oldest weekly track motivates drivers to do what they need to do to win and fuels strong rivalries.
Bowman Gray Stadium caught the eyes of race fans nationwide when it and its drivers were highlighted in History’s series “Madhouse.” Seeing a race during your next visit to North Carolina is as easy as being at the stadium on a Saturday night. And before the gates open, there’s time to visit some of the places off the track that were highlighted in the TV show.
You can visit underdog modified driver Chris Fleming’s hometown of Mount Airy, NC, just 30 minutes from the track. This small, traditional town inspired “The Andy Griffith Show.” An easy stroll along Main Street will bring you across familiar names, places and items from the TV classic.
Hungry before the races? Make a stop at the Olympic Family Restaurant in Walnut Cove, NC, where Fleming sought advice from the King of Bowman Gray Stadium, Junior Miller. Nearby Clarks Barbeque in Kernersville, NC, is where the S&R Motor Co. racing teams go for lunch and up-and-coming driver “Jon Boy” Brown got his first taste of fickle race fans. And don’t forget Miller’s diner -- JR’s Pit Stop -- in Sandy Ridge, NC, where the cooks wear racing T-shirts and “Myers” is a cuss word.
For more information on Bowman-Gray Stadium and a schedule of upcoming races, visit Bowmangrayracing.com.
Courtesy of Pete Anderson
Courtesy of Pete Anderson
added: June 29, 2010
updated: June 30, 2010