CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Southside Speedway, the legendary short track in Chesterfield that saw the birth of several successful racing careers, has decided to close its gates for good.
Last year was the first in the track's 60 year history that it did not host a racing schedule. Friday in a statement, track owners said the restrictions from the COVID pandemic have proved too much to overcome.
The track first opened as Southside Speedway in 1959, and for a time, was part of NASCAR's top series schedule. Drivers like Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett won there before the circuit moved on in 1963. Since then, Southside has hosted late model and other divisions of racing and seen the beginnings of careers like Denny Hamlin's take shape on the oval.
The following is part of a statement sent out by track owners on Friday:
"After much discussion, work, and prayer, we have decided that Southside Speedway’s time has come to an end. Please know that this was not a quick or an easy decision, and that we grieve along with you. The pandemic proved to be more than we could overcome, and rather than continue to keep you all in limbo, we have made the decision to close our gates.
To our staff, our dear friends. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your talents and your love of racing with all of us. For mentoring generations of racing enthusiasts, and for sharing so much of your precious time with us, we will forever be grateful. We could never have asked for more.
To our drivers, owners and crews, we love and appreciate you. Thank you for showing up! You are all such a talented group of competitors. We hope that the cheers from your fans and the trophies in your shops will bring you joy for years to come. We have loved cheering for you, and seeing your successes. You showed us all what racing is supposed to look like. We will be rooting for you, as you find new places to race, and we hope that your time at the toughest short track in the south has left its mark on your heart.
To our fans. There wouldn't be a Southside Speedway if it weren't for y'all. In 1957, when the land was purchased with the intent to develop a community, the fans pleaded for it to remain a race track. The fans showed up, supported, and cheered each week. You brought your families, and then they brought theirs. Generations have grown up on Friday night racing. We will miss you all so much, and truly hope that you find new traditions and new ways to spend those Friday nights with your families.
For generations, there has been Southside Speedway. We are grateful that you were a part of its story."