Friday April 12th, 2024 7:33AM

NASCAR takes over historic Bowman Gray Stadium

By AccessWDUN Staff

Historic Bowman Gray Stadium is now in the hands of NASCAR. 

NASCAR announced today that it has acquired Winston-Salem Speedway, the lessee of the historic Bowman Gray Stadium.

Winston Salem Speedway is housed inside Bowman Gray Stadium, home of the Winston-Salem Rams football team. It’s unique setting has w 

NASCAR will manage racing operations under the lease with the City of Winston-Salem that runs through Dec. 2050.

“As NASCAR’s first weekly racetrack, Bowman Gray Stadium holds a special place in the history of our sport,” said Ben Kennedy, Senior Vice President, Racing Development and Strategy, NASCAR. “We are grateful to the Hawkins family’s multi-generational legacy of leadership at this historic track and we’re thrilled to oversee racing at one of the crown jewels in NASCAR Regional. We look forward to leading the racing operations of the facility in partnership with the City of Winston-Salem to preserve the history and legacy of the racetrack for the next generation of fans and racers.”

Bowman Gray Stadium was built in 1937 and hosted several events, including high school and college football games. The first college football game was between Wake Forest and Duke in the fall of 1938. On October 3, 1943, the Winston-Salem Rams played their first game at the stadium and still play there today. 

The stadium was intended to be used for only college football until trotter horse racing was added on the .250-mile dirt oval. In 1947, midget car racing was added to the list. The track was packed in 1947, and the first NASCAR race was held on May 18, 1949. Monty Flock won the race. 

“Bowman Gray Racing has been a part of the fabric of Winston Salem for many years. In fact, some attribute NASCAR’s beginning to the races held at Bowman Gray Stadium,” said City of Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines. “It is for that and other reasons that the City of Winston Salem is delighted that NASCAR is acquiring Winston-Salem Speedway Inc. I am doubly happy that NASCAR has committed to the continuance of the weekly races at the stadium that are so popular with our citizens and visitors.”

Austin Shuford has been named the new general manager of racing operations for Bowman Gray Stadium. Shuford graduated from Western Carolina University and has worked with Track Enterprises’ Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, where he promoted and managed 25 events annually at more than 15 racetracks throughout the South and Midwest since 2020.

"As one of racing’s most beloved and enduring venues, it's truly an honor to be named the new general manager of racing operations at Bowman Gray Stadium,” said Shuford. “I look forward to learning from the Garrison, Pinilis, and Hawkins families to preserve and extend the greatness of Bowman Gray Stadium. Thanks to NASCAR for this fantastic opportunity to join their organization and the chance to entertain race fans at weekly events throughout the year."
From 1958 to 1971, the racetrack hosted 29 NASCAR Grand National, now NASCAR Cup Series, races. Bowman Gray Stadium has hosted many NASCAR legends, including Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Glen Wood, David Pearson, Ned Jarrett, Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, and others. Petty won his 100th NASCAR Grand National race in the 1969 Myers Brothers 250 at the racetrack.

More recently, Bowman Gray Stadium hosted several East Series races from 2011 to 2015. Ben Kennedy, great-grandson of Bill France Sr., won an East Series race there in 2013. Other winners include two-time NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes and NASCAR Cup Series driver Corey Lajoie.

The 2024 Bowman Gray Stadium race season begins on Saturday, April 20. For more information on Bowman Gray Stadium and the upcoming NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series season with weekly modified sportsman, street stock, and stadium stock competition, visit

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, NASCAR Cup
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