NWMT • August 18, 2015
Historic Track Commemorates 1000 NASCAR-Sanctioned Event
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2015) - There’s a 1000th time for everything.
At least that’s what they say at "the Madhouse."
Widely-known as one of stock car racing’s most legendary venues, Bowman Gray Stadium got its nickname for a 1950’s qualifying format known as the "Mad Scramble." And now, more than 65 years later, the track will hold its 1000th NASCAR-sanctioned event on Saturday, Aug. 15.
Built in 1937, racing began at the stadium in 1949 and is known as NASCAR’s longest-running weekly track hosting its Whelen All-American Series, the flat 1â„4-mile asphalt short oval situated outside Winston-Salem holds a deep-rooted history of family ties, stock-car racing, college football, and even a bit of France family romance.
NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins started NASCAR weekly racing at Bowman Gray, and to this day, members of the Hawkins family still operate the racing program at the stadium.
Burt Myers, a driver on NASCAR’s Whelen Southern Modified Tour and youngest Bowman Gray Stadium track champion in history, said family heritage runs rich at the track.
"My grandpa Billy (Myers) and great uncle Bobby (Myers) used to race there," said the now 39-year-old who won the track championship at the age of 23. "We show up every week, and it’s just a reminder of how long our family has been racing at the track."
In 1952, Bobby Myers set the record for the youngest driver ever to win a Stadium title at the age of 25. In 1999, Burt broke his late great uncle’s record. Billy Myers ranks 20th with 22 victories on Bowman Gray Stadium’s Modified All-Time Wins List and three championships.
Burt’s father, Gary Myers, is the second generation of Myers’ to compete at Bowman Gray Stadium and the 1996 champion of what is now known as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. He ranks seventh on the stadium’s all-time victory list with a total of 38 wins. Burt, along with his brother, Jason, represent the third generation of Myers racing.
Also home to NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East, Bowman Gray Stadium saw even more family history made just two years ago when Ben Kennedy, grandson to Bill France Jr. and Betty Jane France, took home the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East checkered flag in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150.
From NASCAR legends to NCAA football
The NASCAR Grand National Series - now the NASCAR Sprint Cup - first raced at the track in 1958, hosting a total of 29 Grand National races through 1971.
Seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Richard Petty scored his 100th win of his illustrious career at the track and current team owner and local resident Richard Childress fell in love with racing there, selling concessions in the stands and then later competing at the stadium.
One only has to look at the current and upcoming members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame to realize the impact Bowman Gray Stadium has had on the history of NASCAR. Of the current 35 members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame enshrined or scheduled to be inducted in 2016, 25 of them participated at Bowman Gray Stadium in one form or another throughout the stadium’s history.
The track still features fourth and fifth generation competitors and fans that come out each week to see the thrilling shows headlined by NASCAR’s oldest race car division - the modifieds.
And it’s more than just race cars - Wake Forest University played at Bowman Gray Stadium through the 1960’s. Now Winston-Salem State University calls the stadium home to its NCAA Div. II program.
And ultimately, a happy-ever afterâ€¦
Bowman Gray is also the target of Cupid’s arrow in a very big way. It’s famously known as the spot where Bill France Jr. met Betty Jane Zachery, who would later marry and give birth to two children - NASCAR Chairman Brian France, and Chairwoman of ISC/NASCAR Vice-Chairwoman, Lesa France Kennedy. As legend has it, Bill Jr. was sent to the track to work for the summer where he first laid eyes on the local track beauty queen, better known as Betty Jane â€•and the rest, as they say, is history.
History continues to be made at Bowman Gray as it celebrates its 1000th NASCAR-sanctioned event this Saturday by giving away 1,000 limited-edition NASCAR pennants, as well as a diamond ring valued at $1,000 to one lucky fan. The event will feature two 50-lap modifieds, two 20-lap Sportsmans, Street Stock and Stadium Stock races.
Burt hopes to capture a victory Saturday for his family â€•one that will be remembered for years to come and guaranteed to make the Myers history books.
"We’re going to go over there with the mentality we have every weekend - to try to win," he said. "But at the end of the day, it would be really special to be able to say we won the 1000th race."
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