Diamond Lakes Park holds remnants of oft-forgotten NASCAR track
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s hidden in plain sight – the asphalt of a nearly forgotten NASCAR track.
When Harvey Tollison visits Diamond Lakes Regional Park, he doesn’t see just a park.
He sees what used to be.
“I remember a track that had great possibilities that never made it,” he said.
He remembers working at the old Augusta International Raceway, home of the Augusta 510.
“Most of the races in NASCAR, big races, were 500 miles, so we’ll do 510 and be longer than anybody else,” he said.
MORE FROM NEWS 12′S WILL VOLK:
- Take a roller-coaster ride down a mountain
- Immerse yourself in the world of college football
- Try to strike it rich in a real Ga. gold mine
It was supposed to be a big new race in the summertime, but the track had money problems and construction delays. Because of that, the race got pushed back to mid-November in 1963.
“The race kept getting put off and put off and put off, and by the time it got to November, of course the weather wasn’t good,” Tollison said.
Only 15,000 fans attended, much fewer than expected.
And because of the early sunset, they didn’t have enough daylight to run all 510 miles.
Fireball Roberts won the shortened race.
“He was extremely popular,” Tollison said.
Roberts designed the track and was one of its founding partners.
Six months after his win at Augusta, he died in a crash.
“If Fireball hadn’t have got killed, it might’ve come back, but he got killed, so it never came back,” Tollison said.
Six of the top seven finishers died within 14 months of the race.
After Roberts’ death, the track never recovered – and a second Augusta 510 never happened.
“It could’ve been second to the Masters if things had worked out,” Tollison said.
But for many reasons, things didn’t work out, and nature is slowly reclaiming the 60-year-old asphalt.
But still, you can’t help but wonder: What if?
Copyright 2023 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.