Bowman Gray Stadium
Bowman Gray Stadium (Photo: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Track profile: Bowman Gray Stadium

If you’re looking for a historic NASCAR track, look no further than Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The popular quarter-mile bullring is NASCAR’s longest running weekly racing track. Hosting racing on most Saturday evenings from late April through mid-August, the grandstands are typically packed with patrons who are there to watch the ground pounding modifieds battle for supremacy and the occasional fisticuffs that result from the intense on-track action.

The track first opened for racing in 1949 under the tutelage of Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins, with NASCAR Hall of Famer Tim Flock claiming the first track championship later that year.

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In the years since, a number of legendary names have captured track titles at the facility, including Glen Wood, brothers Bobby and Billy Myers, Pee Wee Jones, Ralph Brinkley, Philip Smith, Junior Miller, Burt Myers and Tim Brown.

Brown is the most recent track champion, capturing his 11th crown in 2021 to give him more track championships than any other driver.

Below is everything you need to know about Bowman Gray Stadium.

Bowman Gray Stadium

Track Profile

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WINSTON SALEM, NC - AUGUST 15: during the 1,000th NASCAR race at Bowman Gray Stadium on August 15, 2015 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Photo: Grant Halverson/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Track Bowman Gray Stadium
Location Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Opened 1949
Layout Oval
Surface Asphalt
Length Quarter-mile
Banking No banking

Bowman Gray Stadium didn’t start off life as a race track.

On the contrary, it actually started life as a football field, a role the facility continues to fulfill to this very day.

The stadium was built in 1937 as a public works project to provide jobs during the Great Depression. It is owned by the City of Winston-Salem. A portion of the money to build the stadium was donated by Nathalie Gray in memory of her husband, Bowman. Mr. Gray, a philanthropist and president and chairman of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, passed away in 1935. His wife Nathalie donated $30,000 toward the stadium’s original $100,000 construction cost.

In the beginning, the stadium’s sole use was for collegiate football. Later, trotter horse racing was added on the .250-mile dirt oval surrounding the football field.

Automobile racing came to the stadium in 1947, but initially France and Hawkins weren’t involved.

“The story goes that a guy promoting the Midget races on the dirt track in 1947 asked the city to pave the track,” current manager and promoter Gray Garrison told NASCAR.com in 2011. “He said he’d pay for the paving from what he made in 1948. Apparently, he left town without paying the bill.”

That’s when France and Hawkins stepped in, with the pair reaching a deal with the city to promote the track. In doing so, they pledged to earn enough money to pay back the city for the paving of the track.

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They followed through with their promise, paying back the city the money it was owed and in doing so created a piece of NASCAR history that continues to operate today.

The track hosted 29 NASCAR Cup Series races from 1958-71, with 1960 NASCAR Cup Series champion Rex White scoring the most wins during that time with six triumphs. That included four straight victories in 1961 and ’62. Junior Johnson, Richard Petty and Glen Wood are tied for second with four each.

The series now known as the ARCA Menards Series East visited Bowman Gray five times from 2011-15, with current NASCAR stars Matt DiBenedetto, Corey LaJoie and Ben Rhodes among the winners. Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of France and current senior vice president, racing development and strategy for NASCAR, also earned an East Series win at the track in 2013.

From 2005-16, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour was a staple at Bowman Gray, with 10-time track champion Burt Myers earning three Tour victories at his home track to lead all series competitors. He scored wins in the first Southern Modified Tour race at the track in 2005 and the final race in 2016.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - AUGUST 6: L.W. Miller #36 wins the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Strutmasters.com 199 at the Bowman Gray Stadium on August 6, 2011 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images for NASCAR) | Getty Images
(Photo: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR Cup Series races at Bowman Gray

Year-Race No. Date Winner
1958-19 5/24/58 Bob Welborn
1958-39 8/22/58 Lee Petty
1959-08 3/30/59 Jim Reed
1959-24 6/27/59 Rex White
1959-33 8/21/59 Rex White
1960-13 4/18/60 Glen Wood
1960-22 6/25/60 Glen Wood
1960-34 8/23/60 Glen Wood
1961-12 4/3/61 Rex White
1961-28 6/10/61 Rex White
1961-38 8/9/61 Rex White
1962-16 4/23/62 Rex White
1962-25 6/16/62 Johnny Allen
1962-42 8/18/62 Richard Petty
1963-18 4/15/63 Jim Paschal
1963-33 7/13/63 Glen Wood
1963-43 8/16/63 Junior Johnson
1964-12 3/30/64 Marvin Panch
1964-49 8/22/64 Junior Johnson
1965-17 5/15/65 Junior Johnson
1965-44 8/28/65 Junior Johnson
1966-12 4/11/66 David Pearson
1966-41 8/27/66 David Pearson
1967-09 3/27/67 Bobby Allison
1967-37 8/12/67 Richard Petty
1968-35 8/10/68 David Pearson
1969-39 8/22/69 Richard Petty
1970-36 8/28/70 Richard Petty
1971-34 8/6/71 Bobby Allison

East Series races at Bowman Gray

Year-Race No. Date Winner
2011-05 6/4/11 Matt DiBenedetto
2012-05 6/2/12 Corey LaJoie
2013-05 6/1/13 Ben Kennedy
2014-07 5/31/14 Ben Rhodes
2015-05 5/30/15 Scott Heckert

NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races at Bowman Gray

Year-Race No. Date Winner
2005-05 8/6/05 Burt Myers
2006-06 8/5/06 Jason Myers
2007-06 8/4/07 Burt Myers
2008-04 8/2/08 Brian Loftin
2009-06 8/1/09 Luke Fleming
2010-05 8/7/10 L.W. Miller
2011-06 8/6/11 L.W. Miller
2012-06 8/4/12 George Brunnhoelzl III
2013-06 8/3/13 Ryan Preece
2014-06 8/2/14 Danny Bohn
2015-06 8/1/15 Danny Bohn
2016-06 8/6/16 Burt Myers