Short track racing facilities throughout the country have been tested throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While the impact has differed on a case-by-case basis, depending mostly on the impact of state and/or local government regulations, nearly every facility has been impacted in one way or another. Many facilities in more open states have pulled through or even enjoyed great success, but there are race tracks in more restrictive areas that have been shuttered throughout the season.
Unfortunately, there is one short track that will not pull through to host racing in the future. In a letter to fans and supporters, Southside Speedway announced Friday afternoon that the track will be closing its gates permanently due to the impact of the pandemic.
Known in recent years as the home track of three-time Daytona 500 winner and NASCAR Cup Series star Denny Hamlin, Southside Speedway of Chesterfield County, Virginia was unable to open its gates in 2020. The track, which opened in 1959, will close permanently, effective immediately.
Here is the open letter in full:
We wanted to write to you all directly, so that you can hear in our words the plans we have for the future of Southside Speedway.
When Covid began to affect us here in Central Virginia, we were just days away from beginning our 2020 season. With cautious optimism we held off cancelling our season. Ever-hopeful that the numbers would improve, the safety advisories would be favorable and that all would feel safe returning to race in the 61st season of Southside Speedway. That was not to be, and for the first time in over 60 years, there was no racing to be had.
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.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Southside Speedway