Some venues suc­cumbed

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Mike Hem­bree

NASCAR re­duced the sched­ule of its top na­tional se­ries dra­mat­i­cally in 1972 — from 48 races to 31.

Thir­teen short tracks were booted from the sched­ule at the end of the 1971 sea­son: Hick­ory Speed­way, Hick­ory, N.C.

On Cup sched­ule 1953 to 1971 (35 races). Xfin­ity sched­ule 1982 to 1998. Now runs weekly sched­ule high­lighted by Late Mod­els. When the track held Sun­day af­ter­noon races, it sus­pended com­pe­ti­tion to elim­i­nate en­gine noise while funeral ser­vices were held at an ad­ja­cent ceme­tery. Columbia Speed­way, Cayce, S.C.

Cup sched­ule 1951 to 1971 (43 races). A leg­endary stock car rac­ing short track, Columbia Speed­way is re­mem­bered for pro­vid­ing solid ex­pe­ri­ence for fu­ture cham­pi­ons such as Richard Petty and Cale Yar­bor­ough. Af­ter clos­ing and be­com­ing over­grown with weeds and sit­ting dor­mant for

more than 30 years, the fa­cil­ity re­opened in 2009 as a venue for con­certs, cor­po­rate out­ings, car shows and sim­i­lar events. Greenville-Pick­ens Speed­way, Easley, S.C.

Cup sched­ule 1955 to 1971 (28 races). Con­tin­ues to op­er­ate a weekly pro­gram. David Pear­son and Ralph Earn­hardt (Dale Earn­hardt Sr.’s fa­ther) won track cham­pi­onships at the half-mile, which hosted the first flag-to-flag net­work tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of a Cup race (April 10, 1971). NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. pro­moted the first race at the track in 1946. Smoky Moun­tain Race­way, Maryville, Tenn.

Cup sched­ule 1965 to 1971 (12 races). The track con­tin­ues to op­er­ate with Late Model rac­ing on an ir­reg­u­lar sched­ule. Petty won five of the last seven Cup races there. South Bos­ton Speed­way, South Bos­ton, Va.

Cup sched­ule 1960 to 1971 (10 races). SoBo also hosted Xfin­ity and Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries races but dropped off the na­tional se­ries sched­ule in 2003 with its last truck race. The track hosts Late Mod­els ev­ery other week.

At­tend enough races here, and you’ll even­tu­ally eat one of the track’s fa­mous bologna burg­ers. New Asheville Speed­way, Asheville, N.C.

Cup sched­ule 1962 to 1971 (eight races). Ad­ja­cent to the French Broad River, New Asheville was a hot­bed for re­gional rac­ing af­ter the Cup se­ries left town, but the track was closed in 1999 when the area was con­verted to a city park. The rac­ing sur­face, now part of the park, is used for bi­cy­cling and walk­ing. Kingsport Speed­way, Kingsport, Tenn.

Cup sched­ule 1969 to 1971 (three races). Track now runs a Late Model sched­ule weekly.

Al­bany- Saratoga Speed­way, Malta, N.Y.

Cup sched­ule 1970 to 1971 (two races). Once part of the so-called North­ern Tour, Al­bany now runs weekly Sports­man races. Is­lip Speed­way, Is­lip, N.Y.

Cup sched­ule 1964 to 1971 (six races). One of the short­est (0.2mile) tracks to host the Cup se­ries, Is­lip closed in 1984. Bow­man Gray Sta­dium, Win­ston- Salem, N.C.

Cup sched­ule 1958 to 1971 (29 races). De­spite be­ing in the head-

quar­ters city of then-new NASCAR spon­sor R.J. Reynolds, Bow­man Gray was one of the ca­su­al­ties of the top se­ries’ down­siz­ing. The track re­mains strong, how­ever, and has built a re­gional rep­u­ta­tion for fierce rac­ing and oc­ca­sional over-the-top driver con­fronta­tions. Mid­dle Ge­or­gia Race­way, By­ron, Ga.

Cup sched­ule 1966 to 1971 (nine races). No longer an ac­tive track, Mid­dle Ge­or­gia is per­haps best re­mem­bered for host­ing a giant music fes­ti­val in July 1970 — the At­lanta In­ter­na­tional Pop Fes­ti­val — as a re­ported to­tal of more than 200,000 fans came to the venue to lis­ten to Jimi Hen­drix, the All­man Brothers Band and many oth­ers. Meyer Speed­way, Houston

Cup sched­ule 1971 (one race). Bobby Al­li­son won the only Cup race on the half-mile track, out­run­ning the rest of a 13-car field. The track no longer is in op­er­a­tion. Ona Speed­way, Ona, W.Va.

Cup sched­ule 1963 to 1971 (four races). Once op­er­ated by en­ter­tain­ment king­pin Dick Clark, the speed­way now hosts Late Mod­els ev­ery other week.

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