Gresham Rebirth Top Georgia Historic Moment of ’09

The reconstruction of the old Peach State Speedway into Gresham Motorsports Park was chosen as the top historic moment in Georgia racing for 2009.  Photo courtesy GMP media

The reconstruction of Gresham Motorsports Park was chosen as the top historic moment in Georgia racing for 2009. Photo courtesy GMP media

By Brandon Reed
Posted in Feature Stories 12/31/09

According to a group of motorsports writers and aficionados polled recently, the most historic moment in Georgia racing in 2009 was the rebirth of the old Jefco Speedway into the new Gresham Motorsports Park.

The 42-year-old speed plant, located near Jefferson, Georgia, was purchased at the end of the 2008 racing season by a group headed up by father and son Jim and Tony Gresham.  Beginning in late March and early April of 2009, the track went through extensive remodeling, including the flipping of the front and back stretch, the demolition of the old grandstands and control tower, erection of new aluminum stands and a new control tower and a complete repaving job, along with the addition of a quarter mile legends track into the infield.

Those polled were asked to give their opinion on the most historic happening in racing in the state for the year.  Several said unequivocally that the resurrection of the track, making it one of the showplaces of racing in the southeast, was the top of their list.

“I honestly feel that the reopening of Jefco as Gresham Motorsports Park is the biggest thing in the state,” said Mike Bell, CEO and Historian for GARHOFA, as well as a contributor to GRH.com

“The place went from nearly being forgotten to becoming the finest short track in the southeast, amenity-wise, anyway,” said Joe VanHoose, sports writer for the Athens Banner-Herald and editor of www.joevanhoose.com.

Veteran motorsports journalist Rick Minter, of www.racintoday.com, also pointed to GMP’s resurgence as his pick for the top story.

An overhead look at the reworked GMP, shortly before the track's grand opening. Photo courtesy GMP Media

Radio host Capt. Herb Emory of WSB 750-AM in Atlanta said the job GMP General Manager Dan Elliott did at the track, along with the emergence of his nephew, second generation racer Chase Elliott as a racing threat, made the top story one two Elliotts.

“Chase Elliott having a real strong start to his big car racing career and Dan Elliott working magic to give a Georgia racing jewel a new life,” Emory commented.

While it wasn’t his first choice, Jeff Hood of www.racintoday.com said the rebirth of the track was a close second on his list.

Dale Terry, webmaster for www.georgiastockcarracing.com, said the renovation of the speedway was the most historic moment or happening of the year, and said hopefully the most historic story of 2010 will be one of big crowds coming to the track.

Justin Poole, sports writer for MainStreet News and a contributor to GRH.com, agreed that the purchase of the track by the Gresham family and it’s renovation made it the biggest historic story of the year.

“The 2009 World Crown had a huge turnout and I believe that fans found a very welcoming and top-notch facility,” Poole said.  “We know the drivers loved the track.”

Allen Hastings of Turn 4 Motorsports Media and a host of Southern Race Week Radio said the track renovation was “a real bright spot for asphalt late model racing.”

“Now the premier short track in the country, the track has an opportunity to revive asphalt racing in the state of Georgia,” Hastings added.

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