Speedway Memorial dedicated at Carrier Park

Before a crowd of several hundreds of people gathered Thursday evening at Carrier Park, Asheville City Councilman Jan Davis presided over the dedication of a memorial to the Asheville Motor Speedway and the history of stock car racing in Buncombe County. The monument is a a 6’ by 8’ black and white wall resembling a checkered flag that contains historic pictures spanning nearly 50 years. Joining the impressively large crowd were Buncombe County Commissioners Carol Peterson, K. Ray Bailey and Holly Jones as well as Asheville City Council members Esther Manheimer, Cecil Bothwell and Gordon Smith. On hand too was former Asheville City Councilman Joe Dunn, who was instrumental in getting the memorial built.

To listen to Councilman Davis’s remarks, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Several former race car drivers and others spoke to the gathering, and many people were brought to laughter and to tears by the various memories. The track was built in 1960 and was in operation until 1999.

For some background on the track and the monument that now stands in Carrier Park, read former Xpress reporter Brian Postelle’s story from May 2007 and this story from September 2003 by former Xpress reporter Brian Sarzynski.

A plaque on the ground in front of the memorial reads:

This Memorial is Dedicated to the
Racing Community of Western North Carolina

From 1960 until 1999, this site was home to one of the most legendary tracks in the history of stock car racing. The 1/3 mile track was known originally as the New Asheville Speedway and later as the Asheville Motor Speedway — but to the drivers, pit crews, track employees and loyal fans that gathered here on Friday evenings, it will always be remembered simply as “The River.”

You are presently standing north of the former finish line — a place where dreams were made and sometimes dashed for both drivers and fans. The real winners, however, were the generations of folks who found an extended family here down on the river. Racing wasn’t just part of the community — but a community itself.

In 1999 the track was sold and the land donated to the City of Asheville for use as a park.

Today, the asphalt oval remains, incorporated into the park as a bicycle track. Bicyclists pass the scuffs and dents on the outside wall left by four-wheel machines. And perhaps without knowing it, they are sharing the lanes with the ghosts of powerful race cars, driven by men who became legends and others who just tried.

For those who know and believe, this is hallowed ground.

Mary Greenwood, widow of the late Bob Greenwood, enjoys a happy memory Thursday evening at the dedication. The Greenwoods were the original owners of the property and they paved the first racetrack back in 1960.

Asheville City Councilman Jan Davis presided over the memorial’s dedication.

Photos by Michael Muller

Audio of Councilman Davis’s remarks (mp3 file, hit play):


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10 thoughts on “Speedway Memorial dedicated at Carrier Park

  1. T100C-1970

    “known originally as the Asheville Motor Speedway and later as the Asheville Motor Speedway”

    The above quote looks like a typo to me. Hopefully due to MtExp and not on the monument itself.

    I thought the place was called the “New Asheville Speedway” or maybe that was the one at McCormick field that didn’t last too long??

    Anyhow its nice that the remnants of the track remain and the monument was created.. In one sense its surprising that it lasted as long as it did.

    I recall that Asheville-Weaverville speedway was a more important element of the NASCAR circuit in the 50’s and 60’s but the folks in “Werville” managed to “git ‘er shut down” years before AMS was closed :-(

  2. UnaffiliatedVoter

    …and ask around West Asheville how glad they are it’s being properly memorialized and not
    reactivated! … it was way to close to town.

  3. Kilgore

    I really don’t understand the need for people to denigrate the feelings and memories that folks have about the Speedway. I am not in anyway a race fan, and the only time I have been to the speedway is in its current form, which I think is a great use of the property. But a lot of people have fond memories of Friday nights at the River, which was an institution in Asheville for almost 40 years. A memorial for the Speedway is a fine way to honor that.

  4. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Michael Muller, beautiful photos of Dana Pierce at the Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs Gathering and Mary Greenwood at the Asheville Motor Speedway event.

    You captured their inner spirits as well as their physical beauty.

  5. LeAnn

    “jeff and LOKEL” – The speedway is part of the history of this area and families who have lived here for years. Anyone who doesn’t understand that must not have much of a history. That’s sad. Why waste your time reading and commenting on something you apparently find beneath you? How sad for you if that’s all you can find to do.

  6. Kim Plemmons

    Michael Muller, Thank you for the great story!
    And a big thank you to Betty Wallace for her comments about the picture of our Mother, Mary Ann Greenwood. She is right, you capured her inner spirit and physical beauty!
    God bless you!
    The Greenwood Family

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