Welcome to Living History in the Making
In Hillsborough, we have a long passionate history in motor racing. Our racing roots go all the way back to the first year of NASCAR - 1949 - and beyond to the fine tradition of moon-shiners running and gunning their powerful modified stock cars over rural roads of North Carolina always outpacing the revenuers in hot pursuit.In 1947, Bill France, Sr. flew over Orange County and sighted the horse racetrack of General Carr. Moving swiftly, France made the General an offer he couldn't refuse to purchase the racetrack and make it ready for NASCAR's inaugural season in 1949.
Over the next twenty years, NASCAR's boldest drivers raced against one another on the .9 mile dirt oval. Fonty Flock, Curtis Turner, Herb Thomas, Bill Blair, Jimmie Lewallen, Fireball Roberts, Tim Flock, Joe Weatherly, Cotton Owens, Ned Jarrett and Richard Petty dueled for glory and very little prize money to create the thrilling tradition of NASCAR.
The sheer excitement of racing brought tens of thousands of fans to Hillsborough for the 32 bullet-paced racing events over a 20 year period - until a group of clergy pressured local government to outlaw racing on Sundays. In 1968, Richard Petty won the last race held at the Orange Speedway, and teh Speedway languished in disuse, neglect and decay for the next 38 years.
The Racers Reunion
In 1997, a group of historic preservationists arranged for the acquisition of the Orange Speedway property from the France/Staley family, and the inaugural Celebration of the Automobile Car Show and Racers Reunion was hosted by the Historic Speedway Group 10 years later.
The property is owned by the Classical American Home Preservation Trust and managed by the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina.
The mission of the Historic Speedway Group is dedicated to the Preservation and Restoration of the Speedway.
Every year, the event expands beyond the commemoration of racing history and now includes the Celebration of the Automobile Car Show and Cruise-In along with a host of unique exhibitions, photo opportunities, press conferences, and award ceremonies.
Today the Racers Reunion provides an intoxicating atmosphere combining speed, history, and the powerful drama of stock car motor racing with an exciting mixture of racing drivers, mechanics, team owners, and NASCAR celebrities.