A few weeks ago, we posted about one YouTuber’s journey to dive deeper into the history of Air Base Speedway, a seemingly lost NASCAR track. There isn’t a ton of information out there about the track, the 1951 race it held, or its fate. But in an update to the video, we’re starting to piece together more about this mysterious track.
This all started with YouTuber S1apSh0es finding a track called Air Base Speedway listed on Racing Reference. The track’s known origins date back to 1949. Its sole known race was held in 1951. This was strange, given that no one had ever heard of it or seen remnants of it—including S1apSh0es himself, who lives in Greenville, South Carolina, where the track was supposed to be located.
It was said to have held the first-ever night race for NASCAR on a dirt track, which meant there’d have to be lights. But, aside from two or three newspaper clippings and some aerial photos, S1apSh0es came away with next to nothing.
After putting up a bounty in hopes of discovering more information, video channel S1apSh0es received a ton of photos and stories from NASCAR fans across the country. People actually went out and did some hardcore archival research. And man, some of the stuff he received is incredible.
It all started with one Twitter user unearthing a newspaper ad for the race that included a photo of the track itself, complete with the lights that enabled races to be held at night. After that came a deep account of a race held at the speedway that revealed a very concerning fact: it was a pretty common misconception at the time to credit the NASCAR race at Air Base Speedway as happening at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
That opens up a whole new can of worms. How many photos and news stories about Air Base Speedway went undetected because they were wrongly credited as taking place somewhere else? It turns out that one article at SPEEDSPORT is literally the only reason we even know that Air Base Speedway even existed, given that prior to that, the error in NASCAR’s record keeping had everyone assuming it was Greenville-Pickens.
As it turns out, the track suffered from “bad conditions” that caused incredibly slow qualifying speeds during the NASCAR event and even a cancelled unsanctioned race. It kind of suggests that promoter Charlie Hicks jumped into things without actually knowing what he was doing—especially given the fact that his attempts to secure financing for the Speedway was done so under false pretenses, ultimately leading to the track’s demise.
But what about photos of actual cars on the track itself? There were plenty of false flags and unverifiable pictures sent to S1apSh0es, but he did receive one photo from Getty that looked like it could be our fated Air Base Speedway. With its high wooden walls and light poles, there’s a good chance this photo is Air Base, not Greenville-Pickens as the description claims.
Air Base Speedway didn’t even last five years before it closed down, making it next to impossible to gather much information about it—so it’s fascinating that people were able to track down anything at all.
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