Middle Georgia Raceway

Motor SpeedwayThe Middle Georgia Raceway was a half-mile paved track that opened in 1966, at a cost of $500,000. During the inaugural race, the Speedy Morelock 200, Richard Petty broke the speed record for half-mile NASCAR tracks. In front of a crowd of 7,500 spectators, Petty hit a top speed of 82.023 miles per hour. He won the 100-mile event in his 1966 Plymouth.

RacetrackThe track held nine NASCAR Grand National races from 1966 until 1971. Richard Petty won four races, Bobby Allison won three, David Pearson and Bobby Isaac each earned one victory.

Motor Speedway On September 23, 1967, federal agents discovered a moonshine distillery in an underground bunker next to the track at turn three. The local newspaper described it as an elaborate, sophisticated operation with two fermenting tanks totaling 3,700 gallons. The distillery was capable of producing 80 gallons of moonshine per day. A trap door inside of a ticket booth led 17 feet underground to a cave where the distillery was kept.

Motor SpeedwayThe owner at the time, Lamar Brown Jr., was arrested after the discovery was made. The moonshine distillery was reported to have an electric exhaust system, electric lighting, and electric insect repellant devices. Federal agents found out about it after a hunter smelled fumes and tipped off the authorities. Agents would normally have blown it up with dynamite, but instead used acetylene torches to destroy it so the track would not get damaged. A race was held the following day. During the trial the government produced an invoice for 24 pounds of yeast that was purchased by Brown 10 days before the still was discovered. Brown said he bought the yeast to make food for the concession stand at the race track. The prosecutor told the jury that 24 pounds of yeast would make enough bread to feed Atlanta for a week. Brown was the only witness for the defense, and adamantly denied knowing anything about the still. The jury deliberated less than two hours before finding him not guilty.

Motor SpeedwayNASCAR started its 1968 and 1969 season at the Middle Georgia Raceway. Richard Petty set a new track record with a speed of 85.121 miles per hour in November 1968. Later that season, Bobby Isaac shattered Petty’s lap record after recording a 98.148 mile-per-hour lap.

Motor SpeedwayOn the weekend of July 4, 1970, the second annual Atlanta International Pop Festival was held in a soybean field adjacent to the Middle Georgia Raceway. The Allman Brothers Band, who was relatively unknown before this festival, opened and closed the show. Jimi Hendrix headlined the three day concert and played a unique rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at midnight on the 4th of July, accompanied by a fireworks display.

CrowdDescribed as the “Woodstock of the South,” bands played throughout the night while over 300,000 concertgoers descended on a town with a population of 1,500. The interstate was backed up for miles in both directions. Wooded areas around the festival were transformed into campgrounds. The only thing law enforcement could do about the widespread drug use and nudity was to look the other way. Ticket prices for the weekend event to see the 30 bands were $14.00, a bargain even then. Still, thousands of music lovers were outside the gates demanding the gates be opened and the festival become free, like Woodstock. Promoters and security gave in and opened the gates an hour into the opening act’s first set.

RacetrackGeorgia’s Governor at the time, Lester Maddox, tried to repeatedly prevent the festival from taking place. With the help of the state legislature, restrictions were adopted to make it difficult to organize another festival of this size. A third Atlanta Pop Festival never happened. The Georgia Historical Society believes it was the largest American crowd Hendrix ever played in front of and one of his last performances before his untimely death in September 1970.

Motor SpeedwayThe final NASCAR race at the Middle Georgia Raceway was the 1971 Georgia 500, held on November 7, 1971. Even though NASCAR  no longer used the track, many ASA racers of the late 1970s, like Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin raced here in amateur races. The last race of any notability was an ARCA race in 1984 that was won by Davey Allison.

RacetrackIn 2011, the current owner leased the track to Dodge, who wanted to use it for a Durango commercial. Dodge purchased a car locally for $2,000 and crashed it to add realism to the scenes, which were filmed over an eleven day period. In the commercial, a sign stated it was the Brixton Motor Speedway. The owner has opened the track for occasional events and reunions, but there are no plans to reopen the track.

Racetrack

 

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11 thoughts on “Middle Georgia Raceway

  1. I explored this place many years ago! It was surreal to see such a place silenced. In the early 2000s, some local people sought to bring back racing to the track, but surrounding development around the track in the years since the track closed saw that never happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There was a time that you could wind your own hotrod through the weeds and sneak onto the track for a run, pretty sure it was in the 80s and 90s. I took my Supra out there and an older Porsche…..loved it.

    My father, Bob Moore, and many of his friends cleaned the place up a few years ago for a car show and vintage racing.

    Great hidden gem!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an awesome place. We too went through the brush to get pictures on motorcycles and take a few laps. Such fun was had. With the recent release of the dvd ,ELECTRIC CHURCH, the live performance by Jimi Hendrix at the Atlanta Pop Festival a renewed interest in that concert is occurring.
    During the video the guy that recorded the video made the statement that they had footage other than just the Hendrix part. Do you think it would be possible to get him to mix up a couple of hours of that concert and bring in a big video screen and do a 50th anniversary screening there. I think it would be fun and historical.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It would be a GREAT place to get the new generation of kids off the computers and cell phones
    and let them enjoy the smell of racing gas and sounds of racing engines.They might see there in more in life than sitting on the couch.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This brings back memories for me. Back in the early eighties (before the referenced ARCA race), I accompanied a good friend and his ARCA car to Unadilla to display the car in promotion of the upcoming ARCA race. On the way back to Atlanta, we stopped at this race track for him to get some practice laps. He made the unwise decision to run tires from his previous race at Talladega, which were a harder compound, AND, the track had lots of sand on it. Unfortunately, after just a few laps, he lost control coming off turn four, and then over-corrected and went head-on into the outside wall. It bent the front frame rails, and since the car was a previous generation long wheelbase car, I don’t think it was ever rebuilt.

    Liked by 1 person

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