By Brandon Reed
Posted in Feature Stories 5/14/10
On May 1, 2010, one of the most unique and interesting race track complexes in Georgia history was remembered.
It was exactly 50 years ago to the day that the Augusta International Speedway complex was opened in Hephzibah, Georgia. It was intended to be a massive racing facility that would include a three mile long road course, one mile dirt oval, a two mile long tri-oval superspeedway, a half-mile paved oval and a 1/4 mile dragstrip.
Arguably the most famous event to be held at the road course, Augusta International Raceway, was the Augusta 510, a NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) event held on the 21 turn road course on November 17, 1963. The event was won by Fireball Roberts, and would prove to be the final win of Roberts’ legendary career. Roberts would die months later from complications from a fiery crash at Charlotte, North Carolina.
The only other major events held on the road course was an event held by the United State Road Racing Championship. Dave MacDonald won the March 1, 1964 event in a King Cobra.
The other major circuit in the complex that saw action was the Augusta International Speedway, a half-mile oval where NASCAR competed 12 times between 1962 and 1969. Among the winners on the speedway were Joe Weatherly, Richard Petty, Fred Lorenzen, Dick Hutcherson and Bobby Allison.
The complex closed after the 1969 season. Bobby Isaac won the final event run on the track on October 19, 1969.
In 2003, the Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society formed to help preserve the history of the raceway complex. The group worked with local officials to develop the complex into the Diamond Lakes Regional Park. For more information, visit their website.
Here’s a look at the ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the speedway complex. Thanks to Joe Cawley, who provided us these photos.