Raleigh Speedway
Aerial photo of Raleigh Speedway 1960-08-03
Location Raleigh, North Carolina
Opened 1952
Closed 19??
Demolished 1967
Construction cost $500,000
Former name Southland Speedway
Track shape paper-clip-shaped oval
Track length 1.0 miles, 1.6 km
0.25 miles, 0.4 km
Banking Turns - 16°
Straights - flat
Capacity 15,516

Raleigh Speedway

Raleigh Speedway (originally and perhaps later Southland Speedway or Dixie Speedway) was a one-mile (1.6 km) oval race track which opened in 1952 one mile north of Raleigh, North Carolina in Wake County. It was the second superspeedway ever built (the first being the 1.366 mile Darlington Raceway at Darlington, SC). It was also the first lighted superspeedway and the first track on which NASCAR sanctioned night-time races. The track had a long and narrow shape, like a paper clip, with the front and back straights about 500 feet apart and the straightaways about 1,850 feet long. The turns were banked at 16° and the straightaways were flat.[1]

History

The speedway opened as Southland Speedway in 1952. It's first major event was a 200-mile AAA sanctioned IndyCar race held on July 4, 1952. That race was won by Troy Ruttman in an Offy powered Kuzma. Beginning in 1953 the track was know as Raleigh Speedway. NASCAR races were held at the track from 1953 to 1958. On the 1/4-mile (0.4 km) infield track there were weekly Modified an Sportsman races on Fridays. Occasionally, the Sportsman and Modified's ran on the one-mile track. The Grand National series ran 100, 250, and 300-mile races yearly (twice in 1955). The final three Grand National races were held on July 4, 1956, 1957, and 1958. When the Daytona International Speedway opened, the July 4 Grand National event moved to that track. Shortly thereafter, the Raleigh Speedway closed due to noise complaints from residents of nearby neighborhoods. The track was demolished in 1967. Most of the track site is now The Seaboard Industrial Park with the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (CSX) siding occupying the former location of the front straight. About 90' of the backstretch remain in the woods near a Progress Energy substation.

Major Race Results

Race Date Cars Winner Year/Make Distance (miles) Purse (USD) Pole Speed (mph) Race Speed (mph)
Raleigh 200 1952-07-04 Saturday
(Independence Day)
24 Troy Ruttman Kuzma-Offenhauser 200 N/A N/A 89.778
Raleigh 300 1953-05-30 Saturday
(Memorial Day)
49 Fonty Flock 1953 Hudson 300 $13,100 76.230 70.629
Raleigh 250 1954-05-29 Saturday
(Memorial Day)*
35 Herb Thomas 1954 Hudson 250 $9,150 76.660 73.909
N/A 1955-08-20 Saturday 29 Herb Thomas 1955 Buick 100 $6,075 78.722 76.400
N/A 1955-09-30 Friday 36 Fonty Flock 1955 Chrysler 100 $4,285 82.098 73.289
Raleigh 250 1956-07-04 Wednesday
(Independence Day)
36 Fireball Roberts 1956 Ford 250 $13,425 82.587 79.822
Raleigh 250 1957-07-04 Thursday
(Independence Day)
53 Paul Goldsmith 1957 Ford 250 $17,175 83.371 75.693
Raleigh 250 1958-07-04 Friday
(Independence Day)
55 Fireball Roberts 1957 Chevrolet 250 $16,605 83.896 73.691

[2][3]
*1954 Memorial Day, then always celebrated on May 30, fell on a Sunday. So, the Grand National race was held on Saturday, May 29.

detail of program from 1954-07-03
Detail of program cover from July 3, 1954 showing an aerial view of the track from the southeast. Insets are Curtis Turner, left, and Junior Johnson, right.

Fatalities

The only fatalities at the track occurred during a night race on September 19, 1953. Drivers Bill Blevins (Ford) and Jesse Midkiff (Burlington, NC) were killed during the start of a combined Modified and Sportsman race. Blevins car would not start as the 60-car field took off. He got a start from a push truck, but stalled and came to a stop in the racing line at the exit of turn two on the backstretch — perhaps under the mistaken assumption that he would get another push-start. Blevins' dark maroon car went unnoticed by race officials as the green flag waved. Some in the crowd noticed the stalled car and yelled and pointed, but the flag man never noticed. The remaining 59 cars exited turn two at full speed. One car ran into the back of the stalled car and all hell broke lose. Blevins' car burst into flames and with only two fire extinguishers at the track it took considerable time to get the fire put out. There was no way to get the driver out of the car with flames shooting 100 feet into the air. Blevins and Midkiff were Killed and several other drivers suffered lesser injuries. At least 15 cars were severely damaged. It took about 1 hour and 20 minutes to clear the track. After which the race was shortened to 170 miles and won by Buddy Shuman.[4][5]

Current Map of Raleigh Showing the Approximate Former Location of the Speedway

program 1953-05-30
Program cover from May 30, 1953
 
program 1953-07-23
Program cover from July 23, 1953
 
program 1954-07-03
Program cover from July 3, 1954

Trivia

The trivia listed below only concerns the NASCAR Grand National series as it is the only series for which race statistics are available.

References

  1. Brow, Alan E., The History of America's Speedways, Past & Present, America's Speedway, 2006, ISBN 0-931105-61-7
     
  2. ChampCarStats.com http://www.champcarstats.com/races/195203.htm
     
  3. Racing-Reference.info http://racing-reference.info/trackdet?trk=105&series=W&show=1
     
  4. Motorsport Memorial http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/query.php?db=ct&q=circuit_a&n=3067
     
  5. E-mail by Raymond James, dated 2006-11-14
     
  6. Jayski's® Silly Season Site http://www.jayski.com/next/2000/2000-dover.htm
     
  7. Fielden, Greg, NASCAR Chronicle, 2003, ISBN 0-7853-8683-1
     
  8. Arcticboys Metropolitan Advertising Graphics http://www.arcticboy.com/Pages/arcticboysmet.html
     
  9. NASH-CAR.COM http://www.nash-car.com/media.html
     
  10. Racing-Reference.info http://racing-reference.info/rquery?id=thomahe01&trk=105&series=W
     

Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleigh_Speedway
Wikimapia: http://wikimapia.org/7417409/Raleigh-Speedway-site