CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The iconic Ona Speedway will celebrate its golden anniversary Saturday and will pay tribute to America's war veterans.
The speedway, which opened the weekend of Aug. 17, 1963, is West Virginia's only asphalt stock car track. At the time, it was known as the West Virginia International Speedway. The NASCAR-sanctioned 300 Grand National was the first event to take place there and nearly 16,000 spectators were in attendance.
The track, "Where Legends are Born," opened just two years after the openings of the Charlotte and Atlanta superspeedways. The track's 18-degree turn has tested the best, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, who won three of his 200 career victories in Ona.
Steve Chapman, a volunteer assisting with public relations for the speedway, said when the track was built, it was then part of the NASCAR circuit. Although that is not the case today, Chapman said it has been the regional drivers and their fans that have supported it throughout the years.
The speedway recently acquired new leadership under manager Dave Hughes of Hughes Motorsports.
Chapman said Hughes wants to grow the track's status as a state recreational and entertainment attraction. In fact, the speedway is currently undergoing renovations as staff is power-washing seats, mowing, replacing roofs on buildings and pouring concrete to shore up some erosion.
Saturday's opening race will be a salute to America's war veterans. The event is named after Vernon Craddock, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in the Korean conflict and was a NASCAR fan from Barboursville. Craddock died in January 2012.
Gates open at 5 p.m. and racing will commence at 7 p.m. Concessions will consist of BBQ sandwiches and drinks.
Contact writer John C. Gibb at john.g...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4872.
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