First Impressions – Clary’s Speedway, North Carolina
By Larry Burnett
Hello race fans, and welcome to “First Impressions,” my ongoing column recalling race tracks that I’ve recently visited. This week: Clary’s Speedway in Brinkleyville, North Carolina.
Again, I have to admit that this wasn’t my first trip to the track, as I went there a couple of years ago for an unsanctioned, $20,000 to win super late model race. Well, everyone knows the outcome of that weekend, with the torrential downpours that pretty much ruined the track, so I’ll just pretend that this was my first time there.
First off, the location. Clary’s is located in north eastern North Carolina, not far from Roanoke Rapids, and about 8 miles west of I-95. It’s kind of off the beaten path, nestled in a “Y” in the road where two roads head off into the pines of North Carolina. I’m not sure how much property it sits on, but the area between the two roads seems to leave just enough space for the track and some parking.
The facility itself appears to have been around quite some time. The front stretch grandstands are comprised of metal framing and wooden rails. But they’re still in pretty good shape, especially compared to some other tracks I’ve seen in the southeast, where you’re not even sure if the stands will support the crowds weight. The main stands at Clary’s are also pretty short, only stretching from the flag stand to turn one on this small, ¼ mile oval. There are a few short stands towards turn 4, but these are only three rows high.
The track is a small, tight ¼ mile oval, made up of the red Carolina clay that the state is famous for. It’s got short straightaways, really tight turns with slight banking, and an empty infield with absolutely no obstruction from the stands. In fact, this empty infield is one feature that I really like about Clary’s. If anything happens on the track, there’s nothing in the way that blocks the fans from seeing it. This past Saturday night, the only thing on the infield was a single four-wheeler, poised there only to be ready if a quick push was needed.
Now the one thing that really caught my attention about Clary’s was the sense of community and family. Like I said, the main grandstands are fairly small, but because of that, you could really feel the closeness with everyone there. The fans that were there had all come to see their friends, their mechanics, their neighbors race. I saw little kids having a blast playing ball, rooting on their favorite drivers, and just having fun. There was a bake sale by the Stars & Stripes Relay for Life Team that supported the American Cancer Society, and the local businesses seem to really be behind the track in every way.
If there was one thing I’d like to see at Clary’s, it’s more cars. But I’m sure that will change, as word gets out about his fun little track.