Today, we take a look at the history of the famous track in South Carolina that so many great drivers have run over the years. Myrtle Beach Speedway is as unique of a racetrack as the entire town itself. With an abrasive surface that acts like a cheese grater on tires, saving your equipment for a late-race finish was just as important as raw speed.
As Speed51 gets set to bring you live coverage this weekend, we can’t help but look back at some of the great moments and numbers of the Myrtle Beach Speedway.
1958: The track opens, named Rambi Raceway, as a dirt track measured as a half-mile. On the dirt, it hosted a NASCAR Convertible Series race in 1958 and a NASCAR Grand National East race in 1972.
1958: Bob Welborn won the NASCAR Convertible Series race in June, and returned in August to win the track’s first-ever 200-lap NASCAR Grand National Series race. The Grand National Series would return for each of the next eight seasons, contesting its last event in 1965.
1963: For the third time in his career, Ned Jarrett won a Grand National race on the Myrtle Beach dirt. In his eight Grand National races at Myrtle Beach, Jarrett had an average finish of 2.6 with nothing lower than a sixth-place finish.
1988: The NASCAR Busch Series (now NASCAR Xfinity Series) contests its first-ever event at Myrtle Beach Speedway, by this point a paved oval measured at .538 mile. A 19-year-old Rob Moroso scored the win over Larry Pearson and Tommy Houston.
1993: The first Myrtle Beach 400 takes place, sanctioned by the NASCAR Winston All Pro Series. Jody Ridley takes the lead when fellow Georgia driver Ron Young blows up in the final 10 laps and continues to victory over Billy Bigley, Jr. and Scott Hansen. Young had led 150 laps that day. The race took three hours and 38 minutes to run and had 25 caution flags for 145 laps.
1995: The last true 400-lap edition of the Myrtle Beach 400 is contested, with Freddie Query taking the win over Jeff Purvis and Matt Kenseth. The event has continued, now with Late Model Stock Cars receiving top billing in the event. Now, the “400” represents the combined number of feature laps on race day across several divisions.
2000: Jeff Green successfully defends his NASCAR Busch Series victory from 1999, winning the last two trips by the series to Myrtle Beach. He and Jimmy Spencer were the only two drivers to win there more than once in the series.
2005: Benny Gordon wins for the fourth time in five races in the old Hooters Pro Cup Series. Gordon had six top-five runs in eight starts at Myrtle Beach.
2010: Frank Deiny, Jr. wins the season-ending Myrtle Beach race for a record fourth time. No other driver has won it more than twice.
2017: Lee Pulliam uses Myrtle Beach as his home track on the way to his 2017 NASCAR National championship. The 2017 title was Pulliam’s fourth, tying him at the time with Philip Morris.
2019: Doug Coby wins the last major touring series race at Myrtle Beach with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Coby wins a calculating race that featured 15 lead changes.
(Editor’s Note: Sources have told Speed51 that NASCAR officials confirmed Friday a return for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on May 30. The tour was not originally scheduled to compete at the track in 2020; however, the event next weekend will now serve as the season opener.)
2019: Sam Yarbrough wins his fifth track championship in the Late Model division at Myrtle Beach Speedway. Yarbrough has been one of the top drivers at Myrtle Beach during the 2000s, and that success has propelled him to two NASCAR Weekly Racing Series South Carolina state championships (2015 and 2019).
2020: Track owners announce the sale of the speedway to a development firm, thus meaning 2020 will be the final season for the half-mile track. August 15 has currently been announced as the last scheduled date of racing.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51