New Smyrna Speedway
If you read Circle Track enough you'll find that many of the tracks we've come to love as motorsports venues were originally built to host races that featured four legs instead of four tires. Horse racing and dog racing were the primary sports back then. Some, like New Smyrna Speedway, were built expressly for motorsports.

In 1964 the Hart family, headed by Clyde Hart, found a piece of land about 10 miles from Daytona Beach and decided it would be a perfect place for a racetrack. The 55-acre piece of property was once a breeding ground for armadillos and, at the time, inhabited quite a few rattlers and a couple of gophers. There is nothing like the roar of a racing car to clear out the undesirables.

Clyde Hart's vision included a banked half-mile dirt track that went by the name Daytona Raceway. Just six months later, Hart realized his dirt track didn't provide the best racing due to the consistency of the dirt. The track was then paved over and eventually the name changed to New Smyrna Speedway. Back then NSS played host to Late Models, Sportsman and even a car known as an Early Model. Today, the track hosts Late Models and Sportsman and is still under the direction of the Hart family-Clyde's son Robert runs the track.

Two years after the opening of the track in 1966, NSS held the first World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. This was originally a four-night event filled with racing. "This year we will hold the 36th edition of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing," says track representative Terry Roberts. "More than 30 years later the event has turned into a nine-night affair of some of the best drivers across the country coming down south to duke it out on a true half-mile racetrack for more than $250,000 in total purse money. This year, racing started on Feb. 8 and concluded the Saturday night before the 44th running of the Daytona 500.

"A lot of famous names have raced here," says Roberts. "Richie Evans, who was known as 'Mr. Modified,' the Allisons-Bobby, Donnie and Davey, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Dick Anderson, Dick Trickle, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant. This was the home track for Dan Pardus. He was a Mini Stock champion here some years ago. Tony Stewart has raced Modifieds here. The list is phenomenal. Each year we see a lot of our old friends."

Racing at NSS starts mid-March and runs until the last weekend in November. "In the last couple of years we have run special races in January," explains Roberts. "We run the Red Eye 100 and the Orange Blossom 100. This year was the 30th running of the Orange Blossom 100. This is a tune-up for Speedweeks. In addition to our regular season and the Speedweeks events, we also run four touring divisions. We run the Race Car Engineering Sunbelt Super Series for Super Late Models, the Goodyear Late Model Challenge, the FASCAR ProModified Tour and the Florida Mini Stock Challenge."

New Smyrna Speedway is sanctioned by FASCAR (Florida Association of Stock Car Racing). The main draw to the track is the Super Late Models, though they run six other divisions every Saturday night starting at 7:30 p.m. The other divisions include Late Models, Open Wheel Modified, Mini Stocks, Sportsman, Super Stocks and Strictly Stocks.

The "true" half-mile, 18-degree banked track seats close to 8,000 spectators with the recent addition of new grandstands. "We have just installed new grandstands, a press tower and VIP suites in the past year," says Roberts. "We are doing renovations constantly and have plans for more seats to go in this year."

Planning to make it to Florida for Speedweeks next year? Take the short drive south from Daytona to New Smyrna. It's worth it!