Automobile

The Lost Story of Memphis-Arkansas, NASCAR’s Only Dirt Superspeedway

Priddy’s death wouldn’t be the last time Memphis-Arkansas’s soft surface ruined a race, either. At the following year’s Mid-South 250, drivers and spectators reportedly waited nearly an hour for a dust cloud kicked up by the cars to clear, and the prolonged race caution with it. This event proved to be Memphis-Arkansas’s last hurrah, as according to an archived blog post, the track’s owners ran out of money thereafter, later selling the facility to a local farmer in 1958.

“We raised catfish in the infield area of the track for a couple of years,” commented landowner Parker Eubanks. “Then we leveled out the grade and bedded rice and grew soybeans in it.”

The track’s finances might have been brought down in part by unexceptional attendance at its last race, which Racing Reference registers at just 9,500 of the bleachers’ reported 15,000 capacity. Though close to Memphis, the track wouldn’t have been as accessible back in the day, as circa 1957, Interstate 40 apparently hadn’t yet reached Lehi, Arkansas, where the track was located.

“If the Interstate would have been complete, it’s only a mile from Lehi to the off-ramp,” added Eubanks. “They could have gotten onto the Interstate and it would have been great.”

As for those remains, they can still be seen from Google Maps, where the unmistakable shape of an oval can be seen carved into the landscape. Though the closest street-level view of the track was snapped a quarter-mile away, we can get some idea of what facilities survive in a brief clip of the track captured in 2016 (embedded below).

Unsurprisingly, there’s not much left aside from some of the racing surface, though given it had already been some six decades since anyone last gave a damn what shape it was in, that former racetrack was still recognizable as one is a miracle in itself.

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