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A look back on Greenville-Pickens Speedway’s history

It’s been a fast 80+ years for the Upstate track.

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Racing on Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Photo by Tony Crescibene via Creative Commons

When you think of NASCAR, places like Charlotte, Talladega + Daytona may come to mind. However, when it comes to NASCAR’s history, Greenville should not be overlooked.

The Greenville-Pickens Speedway off Highway 123 (3800 Calhoun Memorial Hwy., Easley) has hosted and continues to host hundreds of NASCAR races including the first live-televised race in 1971, and some familiar names in racing, like Earnhardt and Pearson.

Before you catch this Saturday’s race at 4 p.m., take a look back on some pivotal moments in the second-oldest NASCAR sanctioned track’s 80+ year history:

1940: Greenville-Pickens Speedway (GPS) is built as a half-mile dirt track.

1946: The $50,000 track formally opens on July 4 (the first post-WWII July 4 celebration in Greenville) with a stock car + horse races to an estimated 20,000+ spectators.

1949: Greenville’s first female stock car racer, Louise Smith + her driving student Barbara Peigler, are two of nine women to race in a 10-lap event.

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Louise Smith (left) + Barbara Peiger in 1949. | Photo from the Greenville News via Newspapers.com

1958: The National Convertible 100-mile stock car race takes place in Greenville + hosts the No. 1 stock car racer (at the time) and two-time national titlist, Bob Welborn, who takes first place.

1970: The dirt speedway is paved.

1971: ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcasts NASCAR’s first live-televised race, The Greenville 200 Grand National, a 200-lap race won by Bobby Issac.

1972: NASCAR’s national races at the speedway end as the organization moves to super speedway venues (think: Talladega Super Speedway), and GPS becomes one of 100+ tracks across the country in NASCAR’s Weekly Racing Series.

1995: Greenville racer + GPS track titlist Butch Lindley’s son, Mardy Lindley wins the 1995 track title, becoming the only father-son duo champions at GPS.

Bonus: Visit the Upcountry History Museum now through Sun., Nov. 6 to see “FAST LANE: The NASCAR Photography of Darryl Moran,” which showcases photos from 1990’s NASCAR races + shares the story of Greenville-Pickens Speedway’s history.

Learn more about the speedway + upcoming events.