Fairgrounds Hosted Last NASCAR Race on Dirt Track

A NASCAR race on a dirt track during the 1960s. The number 43 car belongs to Richard Petty. Image from NASCAR.

On September 30, 1970, the last NASCAR race on a dirt track was held in Raleigh at the State Fairgrounds, Richard Petty took away the day’s top prize, in what was billed as the Home State 200.

Dirt track racing appeared in the South just prior to World War I. When the N.C. State Fair moved to its present site in 1928, the increasingly popular sport came with it. As a premier venue with access to fairgoers from across the state, the speedway boosted the racing phenomenon.

The half-mile track has only seen three NASCAR events in its history. The first was held in 1955, but was called due to rain while Junior Johnson was leading. The next one was fourteen years later in 1969, which James Hylton won. The last was the 1970 event, though the grandstand remains and sections of the old track are used each October.

Safety concerns were the main reason more modern, paved tracks replaced their dirt counterparts, the remains of some of the old ones still dot the Carolinas, with saplings poking through the stands and undergrowth overtaking sites where stock car racing had its start.

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