Augusta International Raceway
- Circuit length:
- 3.000 miles/4.828 km
- Circuit type:
- Permanent road course
Known as the Nürburgring of America, Augusta International Raceway enjoyed a spectacular but brief heyday from 1963 to 1969.
The three-mile banked road course wound its way through rolling hills near Hephzibah, Georgia. The original plans were hugely ambitious, with a 'National Sports Center' envisioned. The complex included a five-mile road course and a seperate tri-oval, complete with two dirt ovals in the infield. A kart track was thrown in for good measure.
However, motor racing wasn't all that was planned; the road course wound round a lake intended for hydroplane boat racing.
The whole concept was years ahead of its time and sadly never came into being, although a redesigned road course, drag strip and dirt oval were eventually built on the site, but only enjoyed a short heyday.
The course featured large elevation changes (some 110 feet) as well as banked corners along its length. An unusual feature was that the grandstands were located along the quarter-mile pit lane, rather than by the trackside itself.
The massive circuit itself covered such a large area it would be possible to fit the entire Daytona International Speedway in the infield!
A mainstay of sportscar racing in the 1960s, Augusta also hosted a NASCAR round in 1963, won by Fireball Roberts. Other big names to compete at the track included Junior Johnson, Joe Weatherly, Ned Jarrett, Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Jim Hall, Bob Holbert and Bob Bondurant.
Racing ceased after the 1969 season, but the track is still visible today. In fact, events have turned full circle, as the infield is now being turned into a multi-use sports venue as part of the Diamond Lakes Regional Park. The orginal raceway will remain in place as a walking and biking trail.