- Lakewood Speedway
Name = Lakewood Speedway | Nicknames = Indianapolis of the South
Time = EST/EDT (-0500/-0400)
Coordinates = coord|33.702|-84.390|display=inline,title
Broke_ground = 1918
July 4 1919
September 3 1979
NASCAR, AAA, IMCA | Layout1 = oval
Surface = dirt
Length_km = 1.6
Length_mi = 1
Miles_first = True | Turns =
Lakewood Speedway was a race track located south of
Atlanta, Georgia, in Lakewood, Georgia, just north of the eastern arm of Langford Parkway(formerly Lakewood Freeway). The track held many kinds of races between 1919 and 1979, including events sanctioned by AAA/USAC, IMCA, and NASCAR. It was a one-mile dirt track which was located adjacent to Lakewood Fairgrounds. Lakewood Speedway was considered the "Indianapolis of the South" as it was located in the largest city in the Southern United Statesand it held an annual race of the Indy cars. [cite book |title= Daytona: From the Birth of Speed to the Death of the Man in Black |last=Hinton |first=Ed |authorlink= |year=2001 |publisher=Warner Books |isbn=0-446-52677-2 |pages=page 56]
In 1918, Atlanta officials chose the Lakewood Fairgrounds as the site for agricultural fairs. They built a one-mile horse racing track around a lake at the fairgrounds. The first events were held at the track on
July 4, 1917. The feature events were a horse race and motorcycle race, before 23,000 spectators. [http://www.speedwaymedia.com/Articles/05/121605Madding.asp Lakewood Speedway - Atlanta’s Original Race Track] ; December 16, 2005; Allen Madding; Speedway Media; Retrieved May 1 2008] A first automobile race was held at the track later that year; it featured Barney Oldfieldin a match race against Ralph DePalmawhich attracted 15,000 spectators. [http://www.nascar.com/2006/news/headlines/cup/01/10/daytona.countdown.ga/index.html Countdown: Georgia] ; Mark Aumann, NASCAR January 10, 2006] In the 1920s and 1930s, the International Motor Contest Association(IMCA) held car racing events during fairs and the American Automobile Association(AAA)/USAC held an annual event on July 4. By 1938, the track was hosting races with champ cars, horses, midgets, modifieds, motorcycles, and boats (in the infield lake). The Atlantic States Racing Association, Central States Auto Racing Association, Gulf States Automobile Association, International Stock Car Racing Association, and Motor Internationale Association all sanctioned events at the track. The track closed in 1941, like all United States racetracks, because the U.S. government banned all automobile racing to conserve materials during World War II. Racing resumed after the war. NASCARheld its first race at the track in 1951. It held eleven Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) and two Convertible division races in the 1950s. Atlanta Motor Speedwayopened 20 miles south of Atlanta in 1960. The new convert|1.5|mi|km|sp=us|adj=on which took away the NASCAR dates and began draining on the track's appeal. Lakewood was resurfaced in 1967. Evel Knievelmade an appearance at Lakewood Speedway in 1974. He was scheduled to make a jump, but had injured his back the week before. After another stuntman performed the motorcycle jump, Evel Knievel was brought to the track in an ambulance, where he was lifted onto a motorcycle by four assistants. He then drove up and down the track, popping wheelies for the crowd.
The track fell into disuse in the late 1970s. After it officially closed on
September 3, 1979, it was allowed to be overgrown with grass and bushes. Monthly Flea markets and a few concerts were held at the exhibition halls on the fairgrounds. As of 2008, the grandstand is still standing, but the third and fourth turns of the racetrack are covered by the back parking lot for Lakewood Amphitheatre. A road crosses the turn two, and the frontstretch was paved to become an access road to Lakewood Avenue. Most of the lake has been filled.
Deaths at Lakewood Speedway
Most of the infield was the lake, which made the track dangerous when drivers made a mistake.cite book |title= NASCAR's Most Wanted |last=McLaurin |first=James A. |authorlink= |coauthors=McLaurin, Jim |year=2001 |publisher=Brassey's |isbn=1574883585 |pages=pages 133-134 |chapterurl=http://books.google.com/books?id=UPunuMHf4jgC&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=%22lakewood+speedway%22&source=web&ots=rweurpaUmx&sig=uSYNSgvgHqEP8KQyWMsqSmhOCQk&hl=en] The turns at each end of the track had different radii, like
Darlington Speedwayhas today. Several drivers died in crashes at the speedway. George Robsonand George Barringerdied in a four-car crash on the second last lap at a Champ car race on September 2, 1946. Billy De Vore was attempting to finish the race at a slow pace after he had engine problems when Robson crashed into his car. Robson was unable to see De Vore's car until it was too late because the dust in the air caused limited visibility. De Vore's car was pushed over a stone wall. Robson's car was hit by Barringer and Bud Bardowski's cars. Only nine cars were running at the time of the accident. Robson and Barrington died shortly after arriving at an area hospital. Race leader Ted Hornsaw the crash; He futilely attempted to flag down the other drivers. Horn was declared the race winner. [ [http://www.historicracing.com/top100.cfm?driverID=2789&today=on&fromrow=1 George Robson's biography] ; Historic Racing; Retrieved May 2 2008] Art Bischdied in a crash at Lakewood Speedway on July 4, 1958.
Richard Pettytook the checkered flag to win his first NASCAR Grand National race at the track in 1959. Second place finisher Lee Petty(Richard's father and car owner) protested the result, asking for a recount of the race's scorecards. NASCAR official recounted the scorecards and awarded the win to Lee Petty. [cite book |title= Richard Petty: The Cars of the King |last=Bongard |first=Tim |authorlink= |coauthors=Bill Coulter, Robert Coulter |year=2001 |publisher=Sports Publishing LLC |isbn=1582613176 |pages=pages 19-20 |chapterurl=http://books.google.com/books?id=Txbx3Y2mDL4C&pg=PA19&dq=%22lakewood+speedway%22&sig=Z_DTjTcmaLedINljKa5YZSysnzU#PPA19,M1] Richard Petty went on to win 200 races in his career, which is the most races in NASCAR history.cite book |title=Daytona: From the Birth of Speed to the Death of the Man in Black |last=Hinton |first=Ed |year=2001 |publisher=Warner Books |location=New York, New York |isbn=0-446-52677-0 |pages=page 118 ] Gober Sosebeebegan his career in 1940 at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway. [ [http://www.briansosebee.com/main.htm Goober Sosebee biography] ] Johnny Beauchamprecorded his first NASCAR victory at Lakewood Speedway in 1959. Curtis Turner, racing for Holman Moodyraced 1959 Thunderbirds and won races at Lakewood Speedway. Bill Blairdrove a 1952 Oldsmobileowned by George Hutchens to his second win at Lakewood Speedway on April 20, 1952. His final race was at Lakewood in 1958.
Lakewood Speedway in the Movies
Lakewood Speedway was featured prominently in a few different movies. Scenes from the 1977
Burt Reynolds' film, Smokey and the Banditwere staged at Lakewood.cn|date=May 2007
Results in the Grand National (now
Sprint Cup Series) [http://www.racing-reference.info/tracks?id=041 Track NASCAR results] ; Racing Reference; Retrieved May 1 2008]
AAA/USAC Championship Car
* [http://garhofa.org/index.php?option=com_zoom&Itemid=39&catid=167 Images] at the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame Association
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