|Location||12800 Genito Road
Midlothian, VA 23112
|Promoter||Sue W. Clements|
Southside Speedway (Affectionately dubbed "The Toughest Track in the South") is a short track used for stock car auto racing located just South of Richmond, Virginia in Chesterfield County. It is a .33 mile asphalt oval, and features a slight bank in the turns, but not enough to notice it with the naked eye. The track is run by Sue Clements, and entered the 2007 season on April 6th. The defending track champions are Chris Dodson (Late Model Sportsman), Thomas Stinson (Modifieds), Chris Hott (Grand Stock), J.B. Poats (Pro-Six), Kevin Yeatts (Legends), Dwayne Bryant (U-Car), and Larry Lamb (Street Stock)
Southside Speedway, which used to be known as Royall Speedway in the early 50's,first opened on July 11th, 1959 with Modifieds as the feature division. For a few years, it was used as a part of NASCAR's early circuit. The first NASCAR race on Southside speedway happened on August 18, 1961. At that time, the track was a 1/4 mile dirt oval. At 58.86 mph, Junior Johnson took the pole for the 150-lap race in his 1960 Pontiac. He led every lap of the race that took about 45 minutes to race. By the next year, Southside Speedway had become a 1/3 mile asphalt oval. At 71.145 mph, Rex White took the poll, but would duck out on lap 134 with engine trouble, which would lead Jimmy Pardue to win the 200-lap feature in his 1962 Pontiac. Richard Petty would finish third in that race. Later that season, Rex White's bad luck would continue. After leading 276 laps of a 300 lap feature, he would lose his lead to Cliff Stewart, who would win the event in his 1962 Pontiac. The last main circuit race recorded at Southside Speedway was on May 19, 1963, in which Ned Jarrett would lead the most laps and win the 300-lap feature in his 1963 Ford. Since this time, Southside Speedway has been used to house several NASCAR syndicated feature series, in which the track has seen great names such as Darrel Waltrip and Bobby Allison turn left at the 1/3 mile track.
Throughout the track's history, there has often been one or two single divisions that brought the fans to the track, and several other novelty divisions that have been used by drivers as a stepping stone to the more prominent divisions. Usually, the more prominent division has been any variety of Late Model cars or Modifieds, and it's immediate predecessor division has been the Grand Stock class, or something similar thereof, such as Pure Stocks.
During the 70s, three names emerged that would plant the seed for future generations of competition at Southside Speedway. Ray Hendrick, Cal Johnson and Ted Hairfield were older drivers whose sons and grandsons have become competitive forces throughout the decades.
Ray Hendrick raced his burgundy Modified car during the 60's and 70's, and quickly planted the seed for the Hendrick dynasty. In 1974 and 1975, he placed 8th and 9th respectively in the National Late Model Sportsman Points, which would later become known as the Busch Grand National Series. At Martinsville Speedway, Ray Hendrick is 1st in all-time wins after he won 20 collective races between 1963 and 1975. He sits atop this list of great drivers including Richard Petty and Geoff Bodine. Ray Hendrick is best known for his philosophy of racing anywhere and everywhere. He participated in 17 NASCAR Winston Cup races, of which he captured 6 career top fives. Cancer claimed Ray Hendrick's life on September 28, 1990.
Later down the road, his son Roy Hendrick would enter the Late Model Stock Car division in a Pontiac whose paint scheme was identical to his father's modified car. These cars were burgundy, whose white number 11 was encased in a white circle with flames coming from the side. Roy Hendrick also made a name for himself and neighboring short tracks that feature Late Model-type racing including Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia and South Boston Speedway. Roy Hendrick dominated Southside Speedway for years, because of which he is commonly referred to as "Rapid" Roy Hendrick. Because of his and his father's reign at these tracks, the "Flying Eleven" logo has become as common among the Virginia short track circuit as Dale Earnhardt's number Three has become an iconic symbol among the NASCAR circuit. Over the past few years, Roy's son, Brandon Hendrick has peeked his head into the Late Model Sportsman and Modified divisions. Brandon currently races the number 55 car in Southside Speedway's Late Model Sportsman division. Roy Hendrick currently races the number 39 car in the Late Model Sportsman division at Southside Speedway.
During the mid to late 80s, the three prominent divisions at Southside Speedway were the Late Model Stock Cars, Grand Stocks and Mini Stocks. The elite of Southside Speedway's limelight through the 80s was shared by the rivalry between Wayne Patterson and Roy Hendrick, but Bug's Hairfield, Roger Sawyer, David Blankenship and Eddie Johnson was always in competition, and passed the track championship around throughout the decade. On Saturdays in the late 80s and early 90s, the track would often feature an Enduro Race that would include upwards of 80 cars racing in a 100-lap melee. These races were incredibly hard to keep up with, as the track was constantly completely congested with cars. The track would also feature a number of other divisions on certain occasions, including Modifieds, Pure Stocks, Factory Stocks, Go-Karts, and many others.
Sometime during the early 90s, Southside Speedway created an Enduro-type division that would race every week with the rest of the Friday night racing activity. Originally, these cars were called Street Stocks, but the name was changed the next year or two years later to "Southside Chargers."
Wayne Patterson lost his sponsorship with Pabst Blue Ribbon during the late 80s, giving way for Roy Hendrick to dominate the Late Model Stock Cars throughout the early 90s. The battle for second was almost always fought between Bug's Hairfield, Eddie Johnson and Shane Lockhart. This continued until Wayne Patterson made his return during the mid 90s and resurged the Hendrick / Patterson rivalry. During the mid-90s, Shane Lockart was the dominant force, and Eddie Johnson fell into the limelight during the late 90s.
In the early 2000s, a face appeared out of the Go-Kart ranks that would become an icon in the world of stock car racing. Denny Hamlin first started racing in the Mini Stock division at Southside Speedway in 1997. Within the next 5 years, he would see his share of wins and track records at Southside Speedway, as well as in neighboring tracks in South Hamption, Langley and South Boston. After racing in the Craftsman Truck Series and the Busch series, Denny Hamlin was adopted by Joe Gibbs and ran his first full-time Nextel Cup season in 2006. The following year, he swept both races at Pocono International Raceway, earned the Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year title, and qualified for the Chase for the Championship. It should also be noted that Curtis Markham, former Southside Speedway track champion, is currently Denny Hamlin's spotter.
During the mid 2000s, Southside Speedway vastly expanded its horizons by offering 8 divisions of racing. The two main attractions, the Late Model Sportsman division and the Modified division, typically alternate between their respected Friday nights to run 100-lap feature events. Chris Dodson is currently the defending track champion in the Late Model Sportsman division and Thomas Stinson is the current Modified defending track Champion. To keep the three family traditions going, Brandon Hendrick and Chris Hairfield, grandsons of Ray Hendrick and Ted Hairfield and sons of Roy Hendrick and Bug's Hairfield, have become contenders in the Late Model Sportsman division. Chris Johnson, grandson of Cal Johnson and son of Eddie Johnson, also races the #36 car in the Modified division.
Current Racing DivisionsEdit
-Late Model Sportsman
-MACKA Champ Karts