Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday pit notes 3

THE PIONEERS: Kenny Meleary of Fayetteville, Ga., was at the first race at Atlanta Motor Speedway 50 years ago, and he's been to every race since then. He remembers the mud he trudged through that first day to sell tickets for the Dixie 300 --...

THE PIONEERS: Kenny Meleary of Fayetteville, Ga., was at the first race at Atlanta Motor Speedway 50 years ago, and he's been to every race since then. He remembers the mud he trudged through that first day to sell tickets for the Dixie 300 -- which started at $8.95 -- and he remembers fondly the early days of the race track. He watched the track evolve into one of the premier motorsports showplaces in the country, and he's still enthralled with the speeds and the action.

Meleary was among a group of 17 fans who attended a press conference Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway celebrating the track's 50th anniversary. NASCAR President Mike Helton and Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith also attended the event, along with 1960 NASCAR champion Rex White, a resident of Fayetteville, Ga.

"These folks are at the heart and soul of the history and roots of NASCAR," said Helton, who also served as Atlanta's track president from 1979-86. "When you come to the speedway and you come to Georgia, there are some pretty good stories from this neck of the woods that would support that this area contributed greatly to the early years of racing."

Michael Greer of Monticello, Ga., was 8 years old when he attended the inaugural Dixie 300 at AMS, and he said what he remembers most is the incredible noise from the race.

"We sat in some of the lower rows, and the grit, the grime, the noise is what sticks out most in my mind," Greer said. "Of course, as an 8-year-old boy, the mud was just an added bonus. And I've been an avid NASCAR fan ever since."

For the record, that first race was held on July 31, 1960 and was won by Fireball Roberts, who pocketed $10,130 for the victory.

-source: ams

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Helton , Rex White