Lost Speedway, Pt. 2: Pennsboro Speedway ‘floored’ Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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1985 race at Pennsboro Speedway. (Photo Courtesy Scott Armentrout)

On Monday we gave you some of the history behind Pennsboro Speedway in Ritchie County. The history is what brought Dale Earnhardt Jr. to visit, but it was more than the history that left an impression on one of the biggest names in racing, and race fans nation-wide who visited.

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PENNSBORO, W.Va. – Pennsboro Speedway dates all the way back to West Virginia’s birth as a state.

From horse racing came dirt track racing, and one of the biggest comebacks in racing history. The history is what brought Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Ritchie County last winter, but he left with an appreciation for the small-town speedway in the mountains.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right) and another member of the “Lost Speedways” crew take pictures and videos of Pennsboro Speedway on their phones during their visit. (Lost Speedways/NBC Peacock)

“(Dale) didn’t know what to expect, and it really floored him,” said Steve Davis, who was at Pennsboro Speedway when Earnhardt Jr. and the NBC Peacock crew came to visit. “He said this is way more than what he thought. Once he got in here, and started walking around it, and hearing all the history and everything that went with it, I mean, he was really floored with it. He enjoyed it.”

The egg-shaped layout, and multiple bridges dominated some of the conversations shown in the “Lost Speedways” episode.

Read Also: Lost Speedway, Pt. 1: Visiting Ritchie County’s Pennsboro Speedway

The track layout and narrow corners made for some interesting racing, and the bridges gave the potential for a rough day to get even worse.

“There’s not much room, so they went into it and some guys would pass and other guys would slow down,” said Davis. “Each driver was different about how they attacked the track. It just had a unique form of racing.”

1985 race at Pennsboro Speedway. (Photo Courtesy Scott Armentrout)

Engines stopped revving on the main track at Pennsboro Speedway in 2002 — 21 years after the race that earned it national attention.

Nearly 20 years after its final race, it’s hard to see in spots that there was once one of the most well-known speedways in dirt track racing. Luckily, the bridges and hillside seating areas remain, as do the memories.

“Anything can be fixed, you know, so it’s good to have memories that you can work off of, to try to fix what mother nature has taken away from us here. So, there’s a lot of good memories,” said Davis. “(I’ve) seen a lot of good races, seen a lot of bad ones here. Jim Dunn winning, that was great, you know. There’s other guys that’s won a lot of races here. And you know, it’s a lot of memories.”

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Memories of the once-famous track help keep the history of it alive.

Stories like the ones we at WBOY have aired over the past two days have hopefully helped bring back a few of those memories to the people of Ritchie County, and anyone else who saw a race at the old dirt track.

“Lost Speedways” with Dale Earnhardt Jr. can be found on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock. It’s free to sign up, and see the episode that was filmed on a couple snowy days in West Virginia.

Davis said the snow covering the trees and the track in Ritchie County was like “icing on the cake” of having Earnhardt and company in Pennsboro.

Hopefully with a little exposure there will be racing again one day on the old track. Let’s just hope all the drivers in the field know how to handle to narrow turns, and don’t lend parts of their car to Bunnell Run.

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