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A Brief Information about Atlanta Motor Speedway
Few who saw the Atlanta Motor Speedway in its infancy would recognize the track today. A majestic structure situated on 870 acres in Hampton, Ga., just 25 miles south of Atlanta, today's Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the country's top sports, corporate, family and entertainment facilities.
But it's a far cry from the structure planned in 1958 by Walker Jackson, Lloyd Smith, Garland Bagley, Ralph Sceiano and Ike Supporter. Before construction of the proposed superspeedway had been completed, insufficient funds forced four of the founders to abandon ship. Dr. Warren Gremmel, Bill Boyd, Jack Black and Art Lester joined Bagley in the venture and spent $1.8 million to get the facility ready
Tthe 1.5-mile track of the Atlanta Motor Speedway, then called the Atlanta International Raceway, finally made its debut on July 31, 1960. It became the seventh superspeedway, a paved facility of one mile or more, to play host to a Winston Cup race. Only three of the original seven, Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway and Lowe's (then Charlotte) Motor Speedway, are still in operation.
Tthe Atlanta Motor Speedway's future looked hazy in the 1960s and 70s though when it suffered several financial setbacks. The track was recognized under Chapter Ten bankruptcy proceedings in the 1970s and went through several general managers before settling down with Walt Nix, who served as general manager for much of the next two decades except for a brief period when NASCAR president Mike Helton was in charge.
Despite the great racing and national attention, Atlanta International Raceway was still a meager facility struggling to get by. It was just the Weaver Grandstand and wooden bleachers on the backstretch, Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket manager Frances Goss recalled. Fans would bring blankets and sit on the dirt bank. Bruton Smith changed all that when he purchased Atlanta International Raceway on October 23, 1990, and renamed the facility Atlanta Motor Speedway. A year later, the addition of the East Turn Grandstand expanded the seating capacity by 25,000, and the 30 suites rimming the top gave new meaning to the word, luxurious.
Under Smith's stewardship, Atlanta Motor Speedway not only has undergone massive expansion, but it has dramatically increased its menu, hosting everything from Busch Series, ARCA and Indy car racing to dog shows, concerts and business conventions.
Bruton has said before he bought the track, "I'd like to see what could be done with this place," Goss recalled. "He's made it. I never would have believed Atlanta Motor Speedway would look like it does today."
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