Augusta Georgia's NASCAR Roots - NASCAR Notes - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

NASCAR NOTES: Augusta Georgia's NASCAR roots

(Source: Glenn Campbell/Victory Lane) (Source: Glenn Campbell/Victory Lane)
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

It's not often that Augusta, GA and NASCAR are mentioned in the same sentence. After all, Augusta is known for a little golf tournament that's held every spring called the Masters. However, for a brief time between 1960 and 1970, Augusta was a regular stop on the NASCAR schedule.

The Augusta International Raceway was built on 1,200-plus acres of land on the south side of the city. It could accommodate many forms of racing and in its time was the largest racing complex in the world.

The facility has mostly been destroyed now, making way for new housing and recreational complexes but a small group of local racing enthusiasts have made it their mission to preserve its history.

"What we are looking to do is preserve the history of racing in Augusta," said Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society (AIRPS) president Curtin Glass.

The facility was a unique complex in its time with many different types of racing planned throughout the year.

"There was a drag strip, a half-mile oval track, midget racing track and a 3-mile road course," continued Glass. "There even were plans on the books for a water drag-boat course on the property's two lakes."

The oval track was by far the most successful part of the facility and the Augusta 501 was a regular stop on the NASCAR Grand National schedule, now known as the NASCAR Cup Series circuit.

"If you were to have attended one of the races in the 1960s you would have seen some of NASCAR's legends battle it out," added Jack Watson, AIRPS Vice President. "Drivers like Tiny Lund, Richard Petty, David Pearson, and Cotton Owens all raced on our track."

The facility now is part of the Diamond Lakes Recreational Complex but portions of the old racing surface are still present if you know where to look.

"The 3-mile road course and the old pit road are still pretty much intact," explained Glass. "Our hope is to preserve the few remaining sections."

AIRPS has erected a monument on the property just outside the old pit road to commemorate the racing events held during the facility's prime years. However, they need help.

"We need some help from the surrounding communities," explained Glass. "We need members, copies of old pictures from the site, and support to keep our efforts moving forward."

The group is holding its annual Hall of Fame banquet and car show Sept. 14 and 15 with tickets available to the public. If you would like to help preserve this era of racing in Augusta, you can reach out to AIRPS by clicking here on their site link.

NASCAR's roots are fading away each year and my hope is to preserve some of that history so future generations can see where the sport has come from. This group of race fans are doing their part in the Augusta Georgia area. I'm sure they would appreciate you help. So, roll up your sleeves and jump in.

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