Laurel Fairground Race Track

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Grandstands of the Laurel Fairground Race Track. Picture taken at the Labor Day race in 1955.

One lap to go before the start of the Labor Day race at Laurel in 1955

Pictures donated by L.C. Gorday.

At the end of the 1965 racing season the Laurel Fairgrounds Track underwent an upgrade. The old dirt track was paved and the grandstands were expanded. This was done because of the popularity of the Asphalt tracks in Florida and Alabama and the high speeds of the Super Modifies. Below are some pictures taken from one of the popular racing magazines of the day "The Speed Scoop News".

Pictures donated by Bo Freeman

As told by Mississippi Racing Historian Jack Brown: I was there the night it opened with the new pavement.  When we got there about 6pm and they were still  putting down asphalt between the front stretch and the pits.  The posts for the outside guardrail were so fresh, the first car that hit them pulled most of them out of the ground.  Truly a unique track with tons of history.  Now it is completely gone, made into a parking lot for the fairgrounds.   The only thing left is the little piece of road that led to the pit entrance just north of where that ticket booth in the picture was located.

Arial Photo of Laurel Fairgrounds Speedway taken in 1996.

As told by Mississippi Racing Historian Jack Brown: In the photo above, the race track back stretch appears at the lower part of the photo.  The main fairgrounds area is the field behind the front stretch.  Notice the railroad track passing just off the end of turn 3.  This is where a car ended up one night and they were frantic to get it off before the night train came by.  That is also where the big blueberry patch was that Joe Caspolich ran off into.  Then going on over to turn 4 you notice a long narrow building just off turn 4. That is the hog barn that Fats Harvison told us about where the promoter put hog manure on top to keep the freeloaders off.  In this photo the grandstand and bleachers that were along the front stretch are all already gone.

There were two tracks just before it was closed completely.    So it first ran as a 1/2 mile dirt in the 50's and early 60's. Then it was paved in 1966 and ran several years as a super modified track. After the 1/2 mile asphalt stopped running on the Skip Wetjen-Mobile Penasacola super modified circuit, a quarter mile dirt was built in the middle.  This ran for a couple of seasons with all the local dirt folks like Wayne Holland and Paul McWilliams.   I went to it a couple of times.  I saw races at all three tracks.  Then they tore the whole thing down and made parking lot for the fairgrounds.  If that photo was made in 96, I'm surprised because it sat idle with no racing during most of the 80's .  I was last at the fairgrounds at a car show the year the first Gulf War started and it was already gone then, replaced by the parking lot.