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History of Ohio Valley Speedway

Opening in 1958 as a banked quarter mile at the junction of what was then known as WV State Route 2 at the junction of Eli Road, the Ohio Valley Speedway has played host to some of the nation's best-known racers.

Logan, Ohio's Don Adam's was the track champion in the abbreviated inaugural season, as the track opened for a late season schedule. The region's most accomplished racer, Marietta, Ohio's Larry Dickson proved nearly unbeatable in the 1959 season, running away with the track championship on his way to a highly successful USAC career that eventually took him to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Other sprint HoF racers that ventured to the early year Invitationals included Dick Gaines, Hooker Hood, Rollie Beale, Lou Blaney and Gus Linder.
Longtime local fans still recall some of the iconic cars as well. Lew Guinn's all aluminum 881. the Dil's Ford 'Deuce', Paul Prince's winged coupe, Pat Herrick's 1313 with the offset engine and the always popular Wayne McGuire's Pontiac powered super modified could often be found among others on any given Saturday evening. Drivers from all over the tri-state area would stuff the pits and fans would jam the stands knowing the quality show was sure to entertain.

The World of Outlaws sprinters even made a visit in the early 80’s, providing a show that featured HoF drivers Rick Ferkel, Bobby Allen, Jack Hewitt, Keith Kaufmann, Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Freddy Linder, Lee Osborne along with a burgeoning star whose later injuries would lead him to being known was the premier sprint car television commentator, Brad Doty.

The 60's open wheel domination waned with regional tracks, as the stock car divisions took center stage by the time the 70's opened a new era at OVS. The full-bodied cars once again provided full pits and packed stands as the slam-bang action provided breathed new life into the track after a few lean years. Nashville entertainers even made appearances at the track, as Grand Old Opry star Nat Stuckey even paraded the track in the iconic Nelson brothers #26 with 'old glory' before an early 70's race. Frank Burris, Bernard Triplet, Pat Herrick, Tye Long and the late Jim Dunn were frequent winners in these early years, and STARS standout Mike Balzano, Harold Redman, and the Mountain State's first winner of the prestigious Hillbilly Hundred, Gene McNeely could often be found collecting headlines as the 80's began. The All-Star Circuit of Champions, the who's who in regional Late Model racing during its existence, made several visits to 'the Valley' and the always innovative Charley Swartz won the West Virginia State Championship race held in the early 90's.

Chances are, if you wanted to make a name in racing in the open wheel or late model classes, you made at least one appearance at Ohio Valley Speedway. The track was lengthened to its current configuration in the early 80's, and recent and ongoing improvements have spruced up the six-decade old facility. Known by most as the ‘Valley’, the Mountain State gem will continue to play host to some of the biggest names in short track racing history as it parlays its quintessential paperclip configuration into terrific racing action nightly. While ushering in a new season of short track excellence, the ‘Valley’ still maintains an aura of yesteryear and charm at one of West Virginia’s premier and stalwart short tracks.

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