About 10 days ago, we had a free Saturday available and decided to ride over to Hillsborough for an afternoon of hiking with our dog Rocky and to check out a local pub. It was about this time last year that we first visited the old Occoneechee Speedway grounds so I decided to stop by there again to see how the place is looking. First though, we visited Occonechee Mountain State Nature Area and hiked the trail around the 'mountain' along the Eno River to the top. It was Rocky's longest hike with us so far and he seemed to enjoy the workout on a cool fall day as much as we did.
After a nice hot lunch and ironically; several Highland Brewing Cold Mountain Winter Ale pints at The Wooden Nickel Pub, we headed over to the former speedway to take a walk around the historic 1 mile oval.
During our visit last year, I mentioned the land was on the chopping block as the NCDOT considered building a new highway bypass directly through the middle of the property. Fortunately, those plans were scratched and the historic dirt track from NASCAR's founding decades will remain for others to enjoy.
Since last year, the Historic Speedway Group has continued to make repairs and upgrades to the property and they were easy to see and appreciate as we made our way down the track's front stretch. Along with improvements to the property, HSC also recently launched an updated website with more facts about the racing history at the track. According to the signage at the track and information on their site, they plan to one day build a museum near the site that will house artifacts and displays relevant to the racing heritage at Occoneechee Speedway.
Our visit that day reignited my interest in historic NASCAR Grand National Division dirt and paved speedways of North Carolina from their early days before becoming the Winston Cup in 1970 and now the Sprint Cup Series. Subsequently, a little research online pointed me towards two former tracks that existed in Raleigh which I plan to blog on in the near future.