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Globe Drive In photos: One of NASCAR's first tracks overgrown by weeds and trees

This is the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, North Carolina. It was one of the first two NASCAR tracks to open and was referred to by drivers as the 'super speedway of dirt'. Drivers, including greats like Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts and Gene Hobby would hit 190 km/h down the front stretch before sliding their cars into the turn without touching the brakes. The last race ran on the track in 1968. Richard Petty won. After that, the track sat practically untouched as the pines and sycamores grew in the infield and weeds poked through the concrete grandstands. In 1997, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust purchased the land to preserve the view from the Ayr Mount historic house - an 1815 Federal-era plantation. The Trust knew the track was on the land and in 2001 applied to add the track to the National Register of Historic Places. The Trust opened walking trails in 2002 and in 2006 began working with volunteers to restore parts of the track including the flagstand and other buildings. The volunteers group is made up mostly of former race car drivers and those who remember watching races at the track. They host an annual car show to raise money for restoration and maintenance of the walking trails. About 60 kilometres north west of Raleigh, it is the only remaining dirt track from the inaugural season in 1949.

Trees grow up in front of the grandstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

Jordan Chittley/The Globe and Mail

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Weeds grow through the grandstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The grandstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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A fence separates the grandstand and the front stretch at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The restored flagstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The restored flagstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The front stretch and pit road at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The grandstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The old outhouse at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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A car sits rusting on pit road at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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A sign on the flagstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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A view up the grandstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Plants grow through the concrete grandstand at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The announcer’s box at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The announcer’s box at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Looking backward down the front stretch at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Looking down the front stretch at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Looking from pit road across the front stretch at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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The front stretch and pit road at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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Turn one at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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A view across the back stretch at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C.

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