Greenville, SC (June 17, 2003)- After over 47 years of continual private ownership, THE GREENVILLE PICKENS SPEEDWAY, Nascar's second oldest facility, was sold on Monday, June 16, 2003. Greenville automobile dealer Kevin Whitaker purchased the entire 150 acre track for an undisclosed sum from long time owners, the Blackwell family. The purchase included the speedway and property and business of the annual Upper South Carolina State Fair.
The Blackwell family, who purchased the speedway in December of 1955, guided the speedway through the early years of NASCAR development when the track hosted NASCAR Grand National events, the forerunner of today's Winston Cup Series. The speedway is renowned in NASCAR history for hosting the first NASCAR race to be televised live from flag to flag to the nation, broadcast on ABC's Wide World of Sports in April of 1971. Since 1972, the speedway has hosted the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series, NASCAR's weekly short track racing event.
Whitaker will take immediate ownership and management of the property, but in a separate agreement of the parties, Tom Blackwell will remain as General Manager of the facility, administering the day to day activities of both the speedway and the annual Upper South Carolina State Fair.
"I'm getting more advanced in age now and what I really wanted to do is insure that this historic speedway remains in tact here for the pleasure and enjoyment of race fans," Blackwell said of the transfer of ownership of the property. "Kevin and I have been close friend for many, many years, and I know that GREENVILLE PICKENS is in good hands. The generations of fans over the decades who have enjoyed this place will remain to do so in the coming years with Kevin at the helm," said Blackwell.
"This is a dream come true for me," Whitaker said. "Tom and family have worked hard over the past many years to mold Greenville Pickens Speedway into one of the best NASCAR facilities in the nation, and fans can be sure that that leadership will continue. I also want to be clear to the many fans of the speedway that my intentions and dedication to building upon that legacy and improving the speedway in the years to come is genuine," said Whitaker.
Additionally, the annual UPPER SOUTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR, which runs 10 days annual over the Labor Day weekend, is included in this sale. The Fair, which hosts about 270,000 individual day visits each year, will open its gates for a 40th year on Thursday, August 28.