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NASCAR, Richard Petty - Cycling,??
The Connection between NASCAR and Richard Petty is easy, the two are synonymous but you have to go back to their beginnings to find the connection to cycling.
In the late 40’s before Daytona and Darlington NASCAR was racing every Thursday night on a half-mile racetrack in Columbia S.C. Names like Fireball Roberts, Ned Jarrett, Ralph Earnheart, and Lee Petty all got their start at the Columbia Speedway. However to the King of NASCAR, Richard Petty, this track holds a very distinguished honor. It is the site of his first win! The Columbia Speedway flourished as a main stay on the NASCAR circuit throughout the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. In the 70’s the small town of Cayce decided that racing, NASCAR, and the Columbia Speedway were not in it’s best interest so they passed laws that effectively made it impossible to operate the speedway. In 1979 the speedway shut down.
Fast forward to 2003. Carolina Velo has recently reached an agreement with the owners of the Old Columbia Speedway to put it back in use. The track in a half-mile (800 meters) in length and shaped like a paper clip. The corners are banked 12 degrees and the straights-a-ways are 6. At first glance it looks like a racer's dream come true (and it is) but that is not what I am most excited about. I am most excited because we finally have a safe place to teach the next generation of cyclist about the sport each of use enjoy. From bike rodeos, to kid only days, time trials, criteriums and finally a place to learn more about track racing the possibilities are limitless.
I hope each of you are as excited as I am to explore this unique opportunity for the club and the cycling community as a whole. The first order of business is to get the speedway in working order. If you are interested in helping please e-mail me and I will send you the details. I look forward to seeing each of you at the Columbia Speedway.
It seem that many people are curious what we are going to do with the track, so below you will find the tracks mission statement. Please contact Derek Everling if you have any questions or would like to volunteer.
Mission Statement for the Old Columbia Speedway Project
To provide the City of Cayce and the Greater Columbia area residents with a safe, secure and supervised area for bicycle recreation activities. To provide an athletic competition and training venue for future Olympic Cycling hopefuls. To encourage young Columbians to engage in a healthy and rewarding activity in a facility provided by us. (Carolina Velo; Columbia SC.; City of Cayce; County of Lexington; Owners of The Old Columbia Speedway.) To provide a cycling competition venue for non-Columbia participants thereby providing the City of Cayce and Greater Columbia with additional tourism revenues.