Birmingham International Raceway, 1906-2009
Backstory and Context
The Birmingham International Raceway was originally built as a horse track and was a 1 mile oval. The Raceway was first used to race motorcycles on October 7, 1906. Three days later on October 10, 1906 automobiles raced for the first time. The track also saw an attempt to beat a 24 hour speed record by German Grand Prix driver Emile Strickler, although he was thrown from his Renault while trying to beat the record.
The grandstand was added in 1925, leading the International Motor Contest Association to move their 10-mile National Championship to the track. The Chevrolet Brothers also debuted their dirt-track racing car at the track during this era.
In 1932 the oval was shortened to a 1/2 mile and was used through 1942. The raceway closed during World War II and reopened in October of 1946. From 1958 - 1960 the oval was reduced yet again to 1/4 mile. In July of 1960 the 1/4 mile oval was paved and operated at this size through 1961. In July of 1962 the 5/8 paved oval track opened.
Between 1958 and 1968 a total of 8 Nascar races took place at the speedway and in 1976 and 1977 Bobby Allison bought the contract to operate the speedway.
In June of 2008 the Mayor of Birmingham proposed a plan to move the raceway to property that the city owned and property where the raceway stood needed to be upgraded. He announced that $1 million had been committed to the project but that the track officials would have to come up with the majority of the funds. The last race was in October of 2008.
Bryant, Joseph. "Mayor proposes moving Birmingham International Raceway from Fair Park, providing $1 million to help build new track." The Birmingham News. June 20, 2008. Retrieved from WebArchive March 1, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20110609072451/http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/index.ssf?%2Fbase%2...
Demmons, Doug. "BIR deserved better than she got." Alabama.com. January 30, 2009. http://blog.al.com/blogoftomorrow/2009/01/bir_demolition_photos.html.