Chattanooga businessman Emerson Russell, a former Chattanooga policeman turned entrepreneur who has started more than 40 businesses during his career, is buying Boyd's Speedway in Ringgold, Georgia.
Russell, who raced stock cars himself on the quarter-mile oval dirt track in the 1960s, 1970s, and the 1980s, said he has always been interested in racing and hopes to upgrade and expand racing at the 67-year-old facility.
"We've already put together much of the 2021 calendar and we're probably going to have at least seven sanctioned races next year," Russell said Wednesday. "The team has been working hard to put together an exciting 2021 Race Schedule that includes 24 events starting with The Cabin Fever in January and running through the November Gobbler Event. This could be a real shot in the arm for this area to get everybody enthused and back into racing."
First opened in as a clay oval in 1953 by its namesake, E.A. Boyd, Boyd's Speedway is one of the oldest continually operating race tracks in the region. It operated as a paved track from 1962 through 1976, with several NASCAR legends such as the Allisons and the Pettys making laps and scoring victories here.
Boyd's Speedway was converted back to dirt track in 1977 and is currently owned by David Duplissey and Dale McDowell, who expect to complete the sale of the race track at the end of the year.
Although the track has been named the Chattanooga International Raceway, Chattanooga Raceway Park, Tennessee-Georgia Speedway, Stateline Speedway, Tennessee Georgia Raceway throughout its history, the Boyd name has been favored by the racers and fans no matter what official name it wore at the time, Duplissey said.
Russell said he hopes to make the track an attractive place for racers to compete and for families to watch racing on most weekends. Even during the pandemic, Russell said racing fans and participants are eager to come to the track and he hopes to build even more business to help attract visitors to the area.
"Families are still wanting to get out and do things, especially outdoors," he said.
Russell built the Farm to Fork restaurant in Ringgold in 2017 and also owns the nearby Spring Hill Suites and Hampton Inn in Ringgold, among his business holdings.
Russell, who built most of his fortune providing janitorial, security, maintenance and landscaping services for shopping malls and other properties, said he has been going to the Bristol Speedway for the past 30 years with his family, including several years with his own sky box.
"My whole family enjoys racing and I ran local tracks for many years," Russell said. "I guess it just gets in your blood."
Contact Dave Flessner email@example.com or at 423-757-6340.