Corners - 12 degrees
Straightaways - 10 degrees
4/10th mile (0.4-mile) total
Straightaways - 360 feet
South Boston Speedway’s History
From what was described as a spur-of-the-moment project undertaken by three Halifax County men more than six decades ago, South Boston Speedway has become one of the most popular, well-known and successful short tracks in NASCAR.
The late E.B. “Buck” Wilkins, a Halifax County-based contractor and builder, the late Dave Blount, and the late Louis Spencer purchased the 500-acre John S. McRae farm located northeast of South Boston on what was then known as Route 304, and in 1957, built a quarter-mile dirt racetrack in a natural bowl that, at that time, was concealed from view from the highway.
Today's modern four-tenths-of-a-mile oval is situated along the side of U.S. Route 360 on the original site that was the former McRae Farm.
When the track held its first race on August 10, 1957, there were bleacher seats for 1,000 fans, and the track was lighted by banks of lights perched atop 16 poles erected at various points around the track.
A Halifax County resident, Jimmy Holland of Republican Grove, won the track's first Sportsman Division race in a car owned by Halifax County residents Buddy Ferrell, Harvey Anderson, and Paul Tingen.
Dick Hawthorne of Lynchburg, Virginia won the track's first Amateur Race with LaFell Elliott of South Boston and Garland Newton of Halifax rounding out the top three finishers.
Wilkins and Blount, with the help of late Martinsville Speedway owner and president H. Clay Earles, brought South Boston Speedway into the NASCAR fold prior to the start of the 1960 season.
South Boston Speedway held its first NASCAR-sanctioned race on April 16, 1960. Johnny Roberts of Baltimore, Md. won the track's first NASCAR race, a 50-lap race for the Modified division. He collected $500 for his effort. Eddie Crouse of Richmond went on to win the track's NASCAR Modified Division title that year to become the track's first NASCAR champion.
South Boston Speedway held its first-ever NASCAR Grand National (now known as the NASCAR Cup Series) race in 1960. The legendary Junior Johnson won that race held on July 8, 1960 after surviving a hard-fought side by side battle with Ned Jarrett that lasted for 108 laps before Jarrett's engine blew.
Richard Petty, the heralded king of NASCAR Cup Series racing, has five trophies from the South Boston Speedway tucked away in his trophy cases.
Many other NASCAR racing legends including Joe Weatherly, Rex White, David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Charlie Glotzbach, Buck Baker, and Wendell Scott competed at the South Boston Speedway in NASCAR Grand National (now known as NASCAR Cup Series) races.
Scott, the first African-American driver to compete at the South Boston Speedway on a regular basis, also raced in Modified Division events at the historic facility.
At some point in South Boston Speedway’s 65-year history virtually all of NASCAR’s top-tier national series and regional touring series and other racing series including the ARCA Menards Series stock cars series, USAC sprint cars and the AMA motorcycle racing series have visited South Boston Speedway, bringing the top stars of the sport to the Halifax County, Virginia oval.
Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton and Ward Burton, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, Geoff Bodine, Bobby Allison, Tony Stewart, Ken Schrader and Benny Parsons are among the many past and present stars that have competed at South Boston Speedway over the years. Parsons scored his first career NASCAR Grand National (NASCAR Cup Series) win at South Boston Speedway when the track hosted its last NASCAR Grand National (NASCAR Cup Series) race in 1971.
Ownership And Management
One of the many positive aspects enjoyed by South Boston Speedway during its 65-year history is consistency of ownership and management.
Wilkins and Blount opened South Boston Speedway in 1957. The pair stepped aside from promoting races at the speedway in the early 1970's and leased the facility to South Boston native, the late C.C. "Clem" Chandler.
After the 1972 season, South Boston Speedway dropped out of the NASCAR fold, and in 1973, began to run NASCAR-type Late Model Sportsman races utilizing NASCAR rules. While the track was operated as a non-sanctioned independent track through the 1976 season, many of the nation’s top NASCAR drivers continued to come to the South Boston Speedway to compete in special events.
Wilkins and Blount returned to head up the operation at South Boston Speedway in 1977. and it was in the spring of that year that South Boston Speedway rejoined NASCAR and signed to become a part of the Winston Racing Series program created that year by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. A nine-race schedule featuring NASCAR Late Model Sportsman races was held that year.
After Blount's death on October 31, 1982, Wilkins and Tommy Blount, the son of the track's late co-founder, took over the speedway’s operation.
Along with the change in management, there was a change in the racing as the NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars emerged as the featured racing division in 1982.
Wilkins and Tommy Blount continued to operate South Boston Speedway through 1984. Prior to the start of the 1985 season, Mason C. Day Sr. of South Boston and his son, Mike Day, purchased the South Boston Speedway.
Prior to the start of the 1990 season, the elder Day took over ownership of the speedway. In 1993, Mason C. Day, Jr. took over at the helm of the speedway, continuing the involvement of the Day family.
Joe Mattioli acquired the speedway in 2000, and in 2004, the late Dr. Joseph Mattioli purchased the track. The Mattioli Family has owned and operated the speedway for the past 17 years. Nick Igdalsky, the CEO of Pocono Raceway and South Boston Speedway, oversees the facility. Motorsports veteran Chase Brashears serves as general manager of the speedway and manages all aspects of the operation; his wife, Carly, serves as the track’s senior director of marketing and administration. They are assisted by a skilled group of full-time and event employees.
The Transformation Of South Boston Speedway
The South Boston Speedway facility has undergone steady improvements since its origin in 1957 as a quarter-mile dirt track. After five years of promoting dirt track races, Wilkins and Blount expanded the racing surface to .357 mile, re-banked and paved the speedway, and constructed a concrete retaining wall around the facility.
The start of the 1977 season was marked by a major improvement program for the facility. Wilkins and Blount had a new concrete facility constructed in the infield to house a concession stand, restroom facilities, a scoring stand, and storage area.
Along with that, the grandstands on the frontstretch were expanded to create a seating capacity of 6,000, and an additional 1,600 grandstand seats were constructed on the backstretch to give the speedway a seating capacity of 7,600 persons.
Two years later, in 1979, the South Boston Speedway was repaved by the South Boston based Mason C. Day Paving Company firm. Immediately afterward, the racing speeds skyrocketed.
Prior to the 1985 season, another series of improvements were made to the South Boston Speedway including the paving of the backstretch pit area, the installation of a new electronic scoreboard and a new sound system.
A new lighting system was installed at the speedway prior to the start of the 1987 season. Prior to the start of the 1989 season, a new enclosed scoring tower and a new VIP tower were constructed.
A massive renovation and improvement program prior to the start of the 1994 season led to the track’s expansion from a .357-mile oval to the current .4-mile oval.
In 2017, a $1 million renovation project was concluded at the speedway. That project included the repaving of the racing surface, renovations to the frontstretch grandstands, updates to the track’s lighting and PA systems, improvements to aid water drainage, and the installation of a new playground for kids.
Over the course of the past three years the speedway created a tailgate section that allows fans to park their vehicles in designated trackside spaces where they can watch the action from the comfort of their vehicles and has continued work toward updating its suites and concession stand facilities.
The story of South Boston Speedway has been one of long-term success, a story of providing the best in racing at a fan-friendly facility with a family-friendly atmosphere.
That tradition and history has been celebrated throughout the years, and it will continue to be celebrated in 2022 as South Boston Speedway reaches new milestones in this, its 65th anniversary season.