Occoneechee Orange Speedway, Hillsborough

#6 of 12 in Things to do in Hillsborough
Hiking Trail · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Occoneechee Speedway was one of the first two NASCAR tracks to open. It closed in 1968 and is the only dirt track remaining from the inaugural 1949 season.
It is located just outside the town of Hillsborough, North Carolina.
The Occoneechee farm occupied the land in the late 19th century. The farm was named after the Occaneechi Indians that lived in the area in the late 17th century and late 18th century. The landowner, Julian S. Carr, raced horses, and built a half mile horse racing track.
Bill France noticed the horse racing track and expanse of open land while piloting his airplane. On the site of the earlier horse track, he built a 0.9 dirt mile track in September, 1947, two months before NASCAR was organized. In its earliest days, Fonty Flock and his brothers Bob and Tim dominated the track. Louise Smith became NASCAR's first female driver at the track in the fall of 1949.
The Occoneechee Speedway hosted stock car racing legends such as Fireball Roberts, Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson.
The track was renamed Orange Speedway in 1954.
In part due the resistance of the local religious authorities, Bill France, Sr. finally gave up on the Occoneechee Speedway. On September 15, 1968 France shut down the operation after Richard Petty's win.
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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
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  • We took our 4 nieces for an afternoon walk. The old NASCAR track is an even grade so it made it easy for the little ones. Lots of shade which kept it cool and comfortable. There is a river you can...  more »
  • This is a must do for any NASCAR fan and the history of this former track is amazing. The names of the early drivers will bring back memories with names like Fireball Roberts, Pearson, and...  more »

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