Progress 2012: Quality of Life

April 4, 2012

Speed and survival

Chatsworth track seeks to become hotspot again


Where people wanted to go

Those interviewed remembered the grandstands as being packed back in the 1980s and 1990s. McPherson remembers times when traffic backed up outside of the parking lot. He said attendance was “astronomical” in the speedway’s prime.

“If you didn’t get there early, then you didn’t get in,” McPherson said. “I’ve won a lot of races there, and on local nights there have been times where the driveway into the parking lot was full.”

Mitch Walker, special events director for the track, said the crowds were not limited to the North Georgia area. People came from all over to watch the races.

“In the mid-to-late 1990s, it was nothing to come into the parking lot and see license plates and see five or six states represented,” Walker said.

Even in the 1970s, the weekly racing was of high interest to folks in the area, and even the drivers. Brindle remembers being in a rivalry with Snooks Defore in the mid-1970s. The two were friends, but they often were side by side on the track each race.

“The fans would be split, some on his side and some on my side,” Brindle said. “We would race side by side each week.”

Saturday nights could not contain the excitement surrounding the weekly races. McPherson remembers doing radio interviews during the week and talking about opponents and whether they would beat him in the upcoming race or not.

“People would get pumped up and would call in live,” McPherson said. “And that would help promote the track locally. If North Georgia is going to be a successful race track, it’s going to have to do it locally.”

But once the week ended, the focus again shifted to the speedway, which became the place to be for Saturday night entertainment.

“Everybody would say, ‘I’m going to North Georgia Speedway tonight,’” Brindle said. “Back in the day there wasn’t much to do on Saturday night except go to the speedway or go to church.”

Brindle’s son, Chip Brindle, has raced at the speedway for about 11 years. He remembers being at the track “all the time” while growing up.

“It seemed like more people were into racing back then,” Chip Brindle said. “Racing just isn’t as big as it used to be. I always remember the Hooters girls being down there when I was young.”

Even today, the speedway has its good days, but the numbers aren’t as consistent. Terry Wilson, a current co-promoter for the speedway, said the attendance numbers in the 1980s and 1990s, the speedway’s prime, were approximately 3,500.

“Now, if you get 1,500,” he said, “then you are doing good.”

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Progress 2012: Quality of Life
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