Photo: Andy Newsome

Southside Speedway announced on Friday afternoon that the track will formally close down after over six decades of operation due to financial woes brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“After much discussion, work and prayer, we have decided that Southside Speedway’s time has come to an end,” the track said in a statement. “Please know that this was not a quick or 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.”

Since opening in 1947, Southside has been a staple of NASCAR’s short track community, as it originally hundreds of events in the Late Model Sportsman and Modified National Championship, with Joe Weatherly, Bobby Allison, Ray Hendrick and Tommy Ellis being among the names to visit victory lane at the facility.

Although Southside shifted more towards weekly racing as NASCAR grew in popularity, it occasionally hosted races for divisions such as the Goody’s Dash Series, which started running at Southside in the 1980s before Danny Bagwell won the final race for the series at the track in 1996.

From 2008-2010, Southside also played host to the prestigious Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown for Late Models. Kyle Busch won the first two races at the facility, while C.E. Falk III took home the checkered flag in 2010 after passing Hamlin on the final lap.

In the farewell press release, Southside expressed gratitude to the staff and drivers that have made weekly racing a reality during the facility’s lifespan, along with the generations of fans that maintained an active presence after Southside was threatened with demolition back in 1957.

“Generations have grown up around Friday night racing,” the track said in their statement. “We will miss you all so much and we truly hope that you find new traditions and new ways to spend those Friday nights with your families. For generations, there has been a Southside Speedway. We are grateful that you were part of its story.”

With its closure, Southside now joins a growing list of tracks on the East Coast that have shuttered operations within the past year, which include East Carolina Motor Speedway and Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Photo by Andy Newsome