One of the more unique aspects of The Great Race 2020 is that we’re going to be seeing historic automobiles from the past competing against each other. Specifically, we’re going to see some pretty famous racing cars from the Golden Era of Automotive Racing take the track. The question is, what is going to happen to these historic racing venues as we continue to navigate the way forward?
The Uniqueness Of Each Venue
One of the things that make The Great Race so special is that each venue is pretty unique. There aren’t any exact duplicates of any of these locations, and that makes each one more special. Here’s a brief look at what makes each of these historic raceways special.
Goodrich Circuit – Akron, Ohio
Located in the heart of Ohio, Akron’s Goodrich Circuit was the first purpose-built motorsport facility in the world. It opened in 1922 and was named after its main sponsor at the time, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. This is also the same company that’s now been sponsoring The Great Race for the past eight years. In addition to being the first race facility of its kind, Goodrich Circuit is also the home of the National Soap Box Derby. This is an organization that promotes grassroots automobile racing, and over 2 million people have participated in their races over the years. One of the most iconic images from the golden era of racing is of Joe Bugni, who won the inaugural World War II Grand Prix in this very location. This was also the venue where the legendary Bader Deutschland car won the last race it ever did before being destroyed in a fatal accident in 1936. Today, Goodrich Circuit still hosts local races as well as some of the biggest races in the country, including the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Lucas Oil Stadium. This year’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be the 100th anniversary of this legendary track.
Barber Vintage Motorcycle Museum Races
Opened in 1912, the Barber Vintage Museum Motorcycle Park is located in northern Alabama. This park is most known for its collection of vintage motorcycles that lined the track back in the day. But it also hosts some pretty amazing historic car races as well. One of the biggest races that takes place there is the Ironman Barbers Vintage Motorcycle Roadrace, which is one of the nine races that make up the Harley-Davidson 1000. This is one of the most famous nostalgia tours in the country, attracting people from all over the country to this northern Alabama location.
Wyzard Raceway – New London, Ohio
Wyzard Raceway opened in 1923 and is located just outside of New London. It is named after its founder and landlord William Wyzard. This track is most famous for its steep and winding roads that make for some incredible speeds. Specifically, this venue is most remembered for the 100 miles per hour qualifying runs that it used to host. But it also has a very unique atmosphere that made the drivers that frequented the track feel like they were going someplace special. Specifically, during the summer, the temperatures at Wyzard Raceway are usually in the high 80s and the humidity is terrible. But that doesn’t bother the drivers or the fans. They know that the track is special and they love it because of that.
Southern Ohio Motor Speedway – Hamilton, Ohio
Located in western Ohio, Southern Ohio Motor Speedway is another track that was established in 1922 and is still going strong. This speedway is most famous for its annual Labor Day weekend Thunder Road Grand Slam, which is a nine-race motor sports festival that encompasses everything from Sprint Cars to Late Models. One of the most iconic images from this venue is of Jimmy Manley, who became the first African American to win the NASCAR Cup Series in 1971. This year’s Labor Day weekend event will mark the 40th anniversary of this historic victory. Today, Southern Ohio Motor Speedway is still one of the biggest and most popular venues in the region, drawing people from all over the country. This year, the organization plans to celebrate their 80th anniversary by hosting an all-star race with many former competitors reunited on the same track.
Lorain County Speedway – Ely, Ohio
Also located in western Ohio, Lorain County Speedway is a bit of a hidden gem. This stadium was built in 1928 and is still going strong today. It originally started out as a dirt track before becoming a paved oval in the 1950s. This track is most famous for its Monster Jam events that it hosts each year. But it also has a very interesting history behind it. In the 1960s, this location was the home of the Amalgamated Motorsports Association, which was a sanctioning body for auto racing teams that previously competed in the AAA Championship. One of the most iconic moments from this venue is when Richie Piana became the first person ever to defeat John F. Kennedy in a televised motor race in October 1960. Teddy KGB (then-governor of Ohio) was in the crowd that day and even presented Piana with the keys to the city of Ely.
Knightsman Raceway – Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville’s Knightsman Raceway opened in 1926 and is another track that’s still going strong. This venue is most famous for its spring racing season, which consists of many short street races that take place after the big NASCAR events have ended. But it also hosts some incredible events in the summer, including the prestigious Southern 500. This is an annual NASCAR event that is considered the unofficial start to the summer sports season. One of the most amazing things about this location is that it’s right next to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. So you can be sure that this venue is going to be packed with music fans, many of whom will be wearing the traditional garb of country musicians.
Talledega Nights Raceway – Greenville, North Carolina
One of the newest tracks to make the list is Talledega Nights Raceway in Greenville, North Carolina. This stadium opened in 2012 and the International Motorsports Valley has taken note, welcoming this brand-new facility to their ranks. This 30,000 seat stadium is based on the concept of bringing motorsport fans together in one place. So, whether you love IndyCar, NASCAR, or Formula One, you’ll be in the right place. The question is, can this new place handle the traffic?
Tri-oval At Talladega Superspeedway – Alabama
Last but not least, we have Talladega SuperSpeedway, which is the tri-oval version of the aforementioned venue. This is where the famous Talladega tri-oval takes place. This is a racetrack that has been around since the 1950s, which makes it one of the more established tracks on this list. Just like the other venues, this one too has some incredible stories behind it. In the 1960s, this location was the home of the Talladega Amateur Hour, an annual amateur radio race that was organized and promoted by Harold Easley. This is also the same Easley who became the first African American to win this year’s NASCAR Cup Series. Today, Talladega Superspeedway is one of the biggest and most popular venues in the country, drawing people from all over the country. It’s also the birthplace of legends like Jack Beckman and Junior Johnson.
These are just a few of the most historic locations that we’ll be seeing during the upcoming season of The Great Race. Each one of these tracks has a unique story behind it, making each one special. It should come as no surprise that many of these venues are still going strong today, with some still hosting weekly events or even daily sporting activities. It would be an incredible feat for any venue to be able to stay open all year round, but these are the pioneers that made that possible. The question is, how are they dealing with the pandemic?