Track News: Another oval to bite the dust

The historic Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Easley, South Carolina is listed for sale to be used as an industrial park.

The sale would include 305 acres and a 100,000-square-foot sized building located at Calhoun Memorial Highway in Easley, according to its Realty Link page.

In 1971, Greenville-Pickens Speedway hosted the first start-to-finish live, televised NASCAR race, just a year after being paved in 1970.

Beforehand, the track existed since 1940 as a dirt track. Drivers recognized as legends, like Richard Petty and David Pearson, have won at the racetrack as well.

Greenville-Pickens Speedway was also where the first-ever fully televised race was run, in 1971. Bobby Isaac won a race that ran from green flag to checkered flag on ABC’s Wide World Of Sports program. Of course, they had to do a little work to make the race fit the show’s format.

“The guy that was over ABC Sports came over to Tom (Blackwell’s) little office and said, ‘Well, you’ve got to run it in an hour,’” Whitaker says, chuckling at the memory. “And Tom said, ‘Man, you’re crazy as hell, there ain’t no way I can guarantee that we’ll run this race in an hour.’ The man laid that contract down and it was for almost $70,000 in 1971, and Tom said, ‘There ain’t no problem, we can handle that.’”

The Grand National series eventually became the Winston Cup series, and the top level of NASCAR racing eventually moved away from Greenville-Pickens Speedway, but the track is still there, still hosting races. You can still see legendary names like David Pearson and Ralph Earnhardt emblazoned on the speedway walls, and maybe hear the echoes of their engines in modern drivers like Ryan Walker, Cameron Bolin and Taylor Satterfield, the most recent track champions.

Greenville-Pickens Speedway through the decades:

1940: Greenville-Pickens Speedway opens
1955: NASCAR begins racing at the track; the first Grand National Series winner is Tim Flock
1962: NASCAR legend and seven-time champion Richard Petty wins at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. It’s his first of six wins at the speedway.
1970: The track is paved for the first time.
1971: The first-ever race televised from flag to flag is run at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. The winner is Bobby Isaac.
1971: The final NASCAR Grand National Series race is run at the speedway.
2003: Upstate auto dealer Kevin Whitaker buys the speedway from the Blackwell family.
2015: Whitaker leases the speedway to former two-time track champion Anthony Anders. Anders takes over as track president and promoter.
2023: Stick a fork in it, it’s done.