Peach Bowl

The Peach Bowl

After opening in 1949, the Peach Bowl in Atlanta soon became a mainstay of Georgia auto racing.  It’s tight quarter mile layout provided exciting racing for short track fans in north Georgia.

The track was constructed right in the heart of Atlanta on the corner of Brady Avenue not far from the downtown area.  It was built by Roy Shoemaker, who would own the speedway through the next 21 years.

After an initial year of running only midgets, NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. leased the track for the next two years, bringing stock cars to the track for the first time.

NASCAR’s sportsman division ran there, and France was instrumental in the track being converted from dirt to asphalt.

In 1952, Shoemaker took back over as promoter, a position he would hold until 1970.

Over the next 18 years, the Peach Bowl played host to virtually every kind of auto racing, with the exception of sprint and Indy cars.  Stock cars, modifieds, Grand National Sportsman, jalopies and NASCAR convertibles were among the types of cars to compete at the track.

But the favorite for many years were the “skeeters”, cut down coaches and coupes that competed on dirt or on pavement around the south.  The cars, piloted by drivers such as Bud Lundsford, “Tootle” Estes, Charlie Mincey and Katron “Cannonball” Sosebee (all of whom are members of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame), were the stars of the show at the Peach Bowl from the late 50s through the 60s.

The Peach Bowl stayed in operation through 1970, when Shoemaker sold the property.  Georgia racer T.C. Hunt, along with an area attorney, promoted the track in 1971, but after that season it closed.  The property was sold to MARTA, Atlanta’s rapid transit rail system, in 1972.  The track was destroyed later that year.  A MARTA bus repair depot occupies the property today.

Here are some images of the Peach Bowl back in it’s glory days:

An aerial of the Peach Bowl from May of 1949, just before the track opened. That’s Brady Avenue in the background and the stockyards off to the right. Photo courtesy GARHOFA

Pictured left to right are track owner Roy Shoemaker, track manager and announcer Norm Ash, and an unknown gentleman. This photo may have been taken on opening night in 1949. Photo courtesy GARHOFA

Georgia Racing Hall of Fame members Billy Carden (12) and Bob Flock (7) fight for position at the Peach Bowl in 1950. Photo courtesy Eddie Samples

One of the largest fields in track history watches the beginning of the July 4, 1952 event at the Peach Bowl. Jack Jackson, organizer of the annual Peach Bowl reunion, started from the back and would win the race. Photo courtesy GARHOFA

All lined up and ready to race prior to an event in 1953. Photo courtesy GARHOFA

Mike Bagwell in victory lane at the Peach Bowl sometime around 1970. Photo courtesy GARHOFA

Here are a few shots to give you an idea of just how urban the Peach Bowl really was (surveyer’s aerials courtesy Henry Jones):

This aerial is from 1949, the year the Peach Bowl opened. The track was located northwest of the Georgia Tech Football Stadium (Grant Field), shown with red arrow. The Peach Bowl is located here under the “49”, indicated by yellow arrow. Thanks to Henry Jones.

The Peach Bowl, 1960. You can see the growth closing in.

Here’s the track in 1972, shortly before it was demolished.

Here’s a look at the site as it stands today:

As you can see, the MARTA repair depot wiped the Peach Bowl off the face of the Earth. There is no indication there today that there had ever been a speedway there.

‘The Ghost of the Peach Bowl’. A look at the speedway yesterday and today. Photo courtesy Kenny Bugg

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