History on the Fast Track
On Saturday nights from May through August, tens of thousands of fans pack into the storied Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There, drivers in low-slung cars with jumbo tires shuttle around a quarter-mile asphalt oval at speeds upward of 100 miles an hour. Bowman Gray's short track features some of the most treacherous conditions and tightest hairpin turns in stock car racing.
Stock car racing became a regulated sport in 1948, when the racecar driver Bill France established the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). One year later, Bowman Gray, NASCAR's first and longest-running weekly track, opened its doors. Many early NASCAR superstars won major victories there, including Fonty Flock, a former moonshine runner, and Richard Lee Petty, known as "The King."
For 60 years, this historic stadium has been a second home to Winston-Salem families, NASCAR fans from far and wide and, of course, several generations of racing greats. Today, Bowman Gray continues to host weekly races in the Modified, Sportsman, Street Stock and Stadium Stock divisions.
It has been the site of many gripping confrontations, with participants slamming into each other, running each other off the road and getting into fistfights. Among the track's most dramatic rivalries in the Modified division is that between Junior Miller, a veteran driver with a reputation for racing dirty, and the Myers family, now represented by brothers Burt and Jason. Other current Modified stars include Tim Brown and Chris Fleming.
For racing fans, Bowman Gray Stadium is a place to witness feats of courage and rally around their favorite drivers. For history buffs, it's a place that captures the evolution of an American sport that originated in Prohibition-era bootlegging. And for drivers, it's a place to test the limits of their skills, bravery and vehicles. As one fan put it, "If you can drive at Bowman Gray stadium, you can drive anywhere."
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