Habersham Speedway

Habersham Speedway


 

The Habersham Speedway was built around 1947.  It was located in northern Habersham County, Georgia, near the Habersham and Stephens County lines.  Some listings put the track in Mt. Airy, Georgia, but the site actually sits closer to Toccoa on the Stephens County side.  The track was located near Dick’s Hill.

The property was said to be owned by the Irvin family.  Early Georgia stars such as Billy Carden, Jack Ethridge and Swayne Pritchett raced there early on.

The track was promoted in the early days by a man named Pee Wee Dooley.  Dooley was killed in a bizarre accident one night following a race at the track in 1947.  When he arrived home, he failed to notice that the pilot light had gone out and the house had filled with gas.  He tried to light a cigarette, causing an explosion and fire.  Dooley was killed.

The track ran into some local trouble in fall of 1947.  According to a 1948 edition of The Northeast Georgian newspaper, 30 people were charged with “violating the Sabbath” in connection with an event at the track on October 7, 1947.

The track did not race again until July 5 of 1948.  The newspaper article states that “Since next week’s race will be on a weekday, no violation of the Sunday law will be involved.”

That July 5 event featured several NASCAR stars, including Red Byron, Bill Snowden, Gober Sosebee and the Flock Brothers.  It’s unclear if this was a NASCAR modified event or not, as records of the early modified events are extremely difficult to get from NASCAR.

It’s believed that this race was run in memory of Pee Wee Dooley.

The track may have held another event in December of 1948. Among those racing were Ed Samples, Skimp Hersey, Bill Blair, Gober Sosebee, Jack Ethridge and Bob Flock, according to a program from the event that still survives.

The track closed down sometime after 1948.  A family member apparently had planned to try to reopen it several years later, but was blocked by a local politician who owned land in the area.

The outline of the track can still be seen today.  A greenhouse has been built along one straightaway.

Here’s a look at the Habersham Speedway in it’s heyday:

“Wild Bill” Snowden leads a competitor through a corner at Habersham. Note the early trackside parking. Photo courtesy Mike Bell

Red Byron’s car is hooked to a wrecker after a crash at Habersham Speedway. Note that the photo was taken at an angle. The track was not banked that steeply.

A good look at the grandstands along the frontstretch. Note how elaborate they are for a small town racetrack in the late 40s.

A very rare shot of Swayne Pritchett racing at his hometown track, Habersham Speedway. Pritchett was from just down the road in Baldwin, Georgia. From a 1948 edition of The Northeast Georgian newspaper.

A look at the track from inside one of the turns.

A look from the pits at what appears to be the other end of the speedway. Note again the trackside parking.

Here’s a look at the infield official’s stand at the track.

Though it says “Grand Opening”, this actually appears to be for the 1948 re-opening of the track. From a 1948 edition of The Northeast Georgian newspaper.

And here’s a look at what the track looks like today:

It’s unclear as to where the grandstands would have sat or how the turns were arranged from this shot, but we hope to have that information soon.

Thanks to Rob Moore from The Northeast Georgian for all his help on this entry!


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