Bryant McMurray Motorsports Photographs

Asheville-Weaverville Speedway
The Asheville-Weaverville Speedway was located near Weaverville, North Carolina. This track was home to Grand National and Winston Cup NASCAR races during the mid-twentieth century. Asheville-Weaverville Speedway was a .5 mile oval track falling under the category of short track. The track opened in 1951 as a dirt track and was later paved. Notable NASCAR drivers who competed at the Asheville-Weaverville Speedway include Banjo Matthews, Ralph Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, and Cotton Owens. The last Cup Series race was held in 1969, and the speedway was officially closed in 1987 due to pressure from nearby residents.
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Located in Hampton, Georgia, some 20 miles south of Atlanta, the Atlanta Motor Speedway opened in 1960. First known as the Atlanta International Raceway, it was renamed the Atlanta Motor Speedway after Bruton Smith purchased it in October 1990. The Atlanta Motor Speedway was originally an oval track and was rebuilt into a quad-oval, making the official length 1.54 miles. This made Atlanta Motor Speedway one of the fastest NASCAR tracks. This speedway has a total seating capacity of 125,000. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once worked as a ticket taker at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. He attended several races there as Georgia governor and as president.
Bristol Motor Speedway
The Bristol Motor Speedway first opened in Bristol, Tennessee, in 1961 under the name Bristol International Speedway. It changed its name to Bristol International Raceway in the spring of 1978, not long after it was sold to businessmen Lanny Hester and Gary Baker. On May 28, 1996, the track's name was officially changed to Bristol Motor Speedway. Despite being a short track, Bristol Motor Speedway remains a popular NASCAR track due to its unique features. Bristol Motor Speedway has steep banking and an entire concrete surface. It has two pit roads and stadium seating. It is one of the loudest NASCAR tracks. The speedway is very fast for a small track because of the steep banking. Bristol races often have the highest number of yellow-flag caution laps in the NASCAR season. The short length of the track makes contact more likely. Bristol Motor Speedway is the third largest sports venue in the United States and seventh largest in the world, fitting up to 162,000 attendees.
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Located in Concord, North Carolina, Charlotte Motor Speedway was designed and built by Bruton Smith and stock car driver Curtis Turner in 1959. Soon afterwards, the track succumbed to Chapter 11 reorganization. Smith parted ways with the speedway in 1962 to pursue other opportunities in Texas and Illinois but gradually began buying shares of stock in the speedway until he became majority stockholder in 1975. He then hired Humpy Wheeler as general manager. Together the two began an ambitious expansion and improvement program, constructing new grandstands and later a permanent lighting system around the speedway's track. The track was completely repaved in 2006. It changed its name to Lowe's Motor Speedway in 1998, reverting to its former and current name in 2009. Among the notable races held at the track are the World 600 (later the Coca-Cola 600), the National 500, the IMSA GT Championship, and the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
Circuit de la Sarthe
Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans, also known as Circuit de la Sarthe, is home of the 24 hours of Le Mans, a prestigious event in sports car racing. The track is located in Le Mans, Sarthe, France. The track is 8.468 miles in length. The course is considered semi-permanent due to its use of public access roads. The facility opened in 1923.
Columbia Speedway
An oval racetrack in Cayce, South Carolina, Columbia Speedway hosted some of the races of NASCAR’s biggest series, such as the Grand National races. From 1951 to 1970, the speedway was a dirt track. It was not paved over until its two final Grand National races in 1971. Columbia Speedway closed several years later.
Darlington International Raceway
Founded by Harold Brasington, a retired stock car driver who was inspired by the example of Daytona International Speedway to build a similar track in South Carolina, the Darlington International Raceway opened in 1950. It is colloquially known as "The Lady in Black" due to its blacktop racing surface and its difficulty. The track has hosted races such as the Rebel 400 and the Southern 500.
Daytona International Speedway
Home of the Daytona 500, the most illustrious NASCAR race, the Daytona International Speedway was built in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1959 by NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. Initially constructed to host races that were formerly held at the Daytona Beach Road Course, the track also hosts ARCA, AMA Superbike, SCCA, USCC, and Motocross races.
Dover International Speedway
Known as "The Monster Mile," the Dover International Speedway opened with the name Dover Downs International Speedway in Dover, Delaware, in 1969. It has hosted NASCAR races such as the Mason-Dixon 300 and the Delaware 500 as well as USAC and Verizon IndyCar Series events. Exactly one mile in length, the track is one of three concrete racetracks (the others are Bristol Motor Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway) used in NASCAR's three main racing series.
Hickory Motor Speedway
Known colloquially as the "Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars," the Hickory Motor Speedway opened in 1951 as a half-mile dirt track. Among the drivers who became champions during the track's first decade were Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, and Ralph Earnhardt. The speedway began hosting NASCAR Grand National Series events in 1953; Tim Flock won the first race. Reconfigured several times during its history, the track was dropped from the Grand National schedule in 1971 after R.J. Reynolds, then the sponsor of the series, eliminated races under 250 miles. Though it remained popular as a venue for NASCAR Late Model Sportsman events, the speedway hosted progressively fewer major races during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1998 it was dropped from the Winston Cup schedule. It remains a venue for NASCAR's club racing division.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Located in Speedway, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the highest-capacity sports venue in the world, with an estimated seating capacity of 235,000. On March 15, 1909, Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, F.G. Wheeler and Arthur Newby broke ground to build the motorsports mecca. By August 1909, the 2.5-mile rectangle was built. In 1909, the entire track surface was paved entirely in bricks. On May 30, 1911, the first 500-mile race, the Indianapolis 500 was born. During World War I, racing was interrupted as the track served as a military aviation repair and refueling depot. However, when racing resumed, speeds increased quickly. Between 1931 and 1835, there were 15 fatalities at the facility, which resulted in another repavement where tarmac replaced the bricks in parts of the track. In 1941, nearly a third of the garage area, known as "Gasoline Alley," was burned down prior to the Indy 500. With U.S. involvement in World War II, the 1942 Indy 500 was cancelled. Later that year, there was a ban on all auto racing until the end of the war in 1945. However, IMS became abandoned and fell into a state of disrepair. At the end of the war, it became known that the track was up for sale. On November 14, 1945, Tony Hulman bought the speedway; the family still owns the facility to this day. In October 1961, the remaining sections of bricks on the track surface were ultimately paved over, except for the one yard just past the start-finish line. From 1919 to 1993, the Indianapolis 500 was the only sanctioned race held at the 2.5-mile facility. When Tony George, Hulman's grandson, inherited ownership of the facility, he began to spearhead efforts to bring more racing events to the track. In August 1994, NASCAR's premier series made its debut in the Brickyard 400. From 1998 to 2003, the International Race of Champions (IROC) ran as a support race to the Brickyard 400. In 2012, the NASCAR Xfinity Series made its debut at IMS. In 1998, George arranged for Formula One to return to the United States in 2000, when an infield road course addition was completed. However, due to tire issues in 2005, the interest level and attendance level fell and resulted in the race being left off the schedule after 2007. From 2008 to 2015, motorcycle racing returned. In 2014, INDYCAR added the IndyCar Grand Prix to kick off the "Month of May" by utilizing the road course. The speedway also hosts other sporting events such as golf. Since 2016, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship is held at the speedway.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Located in Las Vegas, NV, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was opened in September 1996 by Ralph Englestad and William Benette. It was built on the site of the Las Vegas Speedrome, a road course and drag strip that opened in 1972. Englestad and Benette sold the speedway to Speedway Motorsports, Inc., owned by Bruton Smith, in 1998. The track was substantially reconfigured in 2006. Major motorsports events held at the track include the NASCAR Cup Series, the Pennzoil 400, and the NHRA World Finals.
Martinsville Speedway
Built in 1947 by H. Clay Earles, the Martinsville Speedway was one of the first oval tracks in NASCAR. It has hosted a NASCAR event every year since its opening in 1948. Consisting of 800-feet straightaways and short, tight, treacherous turns, the track is one of the shortest in NASCAR at just over a half-mile in length. It has hosted races such as the Old Dominion 500 and the STP 500.
Metrolina Speedway
Metrolina Speedway, also known as Charlotte Fairground Speedway, opened in 1968 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The track was a 0.5-mile banked clay oval that primarily ran races on Friday evenings. In an effort to cater to NASCAR racing, the speedway was paved for a short period of time in the 1970s. Paving the track and attracting more popular racers in NASCAR failed to draw larger crowds. The track returned to its clay surface and racing continued until mid-1998 when it was ultimately closed. In 2009, plans were announced to reopen the track as the Metrolina Speed and Sport Center, but the speedway was not renovated. While defunct, Metrolina Speedway is the only closed speedway in Charlotte still in existence.
Michigan International Speedway
The Michigan International Speedway is located in Brooklyn, Michigan. The race track opened in 1968 with a seating capacity of 25,000, a figure that was considerably increased after racer and entrepreneur Roger Penske bought the speedway in 1972 and upgraded it. Known as the Michigan Speedway between 1996 and 2000, the track later reverted to its original name. It primarily holds NASCAR races such as the Firekeepers Casino 400 and Consumers Energy 400 among other NASCAR-related racing series events. NASCAR drivers who competed at the Michigan International Speedway include Bobby Allison, Mario Andretti, Buddy Baker, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, and Cale Yarborough.
Located in Nivelles, Belgium, the Nivelles-Baulers race track was designed by Roger Caignie in 1971. This track was designed as a safe alternative to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. However, the Nivelles-Baulers was deemed as too safe by drivers and paying spectators. Drivers believed it was a bland track and spectators felt like they weren't close enough to the action. The track was flat and had no special features. The track also had massive runoff in areas. Plagued by poor attendance and economic problems, the circuit was closed on June 30, 1981.
North Wilkesboro Speedway
North Wilkesboro Speedway is a short track located in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The track opened on May 18, 1947, and hosted races in NASCAR's top three series from 1949 until its closure in 1996. The 0.625-mile facility was built by Enoch Staley, Lawson Curry, Jack Combs, and Charlie Combs. The frontstretch of the track was downhill, while the backstretch had an uphill slope. On May 22, 1995, Staley died from a stroke. In less than a month, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. bought fifty percent of shares from the Combs family. The Staley family declined to sell to Speedway Motorsports Inc. because they did not trust the organization's CEO, Bruton Smith. On January 1, 1996, the Staley family sold their fifty percent share of the speedway to Bob Baher, owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway at the time. Because Bahr and Smith owned other tracks on the NASCAR circuit, they decided to take the dates North Wilkesboro had to their other facilities. Smith took the spring date from North Wilkesboro to the newly built Texas Motor Speedway, while Bahre added a second date to his facility in New Hampshire. The track closed in 1996. Since its closing, there have been numerous attempts to buy the facility and open it up to racing. In 2003, Junior Johnson and a group of investors considered buying the facility, but after a multitude of issues, the idea was shuttered in 2004. In 2003, Robert Glen, a local realtor in Wilkes County, organized a community petition for the county commissioners to condemn the speedway and through eminent domain sell to an investor to repurpose the facility for auto racing. However, the county commissioners decided that this would not be the best option. In the fall of 2004, Roush Racing hosted its "Race for the Ride" testing session at the speedway for its television show that showcased drivers competing for a ride in the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Season. In 2005, STS Motorsports Inc., a group founded by Rob Marsden, attempted to bring racing back to the speedway. This group began a petition that caught the attention of Smith and Bahre. At that time, the track was valued by county tax assessors at $4.83 million, while Smith and Bahre agreed to sell the track for $12 million. Save the Speedway attempted to find a buyer, while gathering interests that people still wanted to use the track for racing and as a testing facility. The organization found a New York real estate developer to help rally investors, but the attempt failed when neither party could reach an agreement. In January 2007, Bahere and Smith announced they had agreed to let a real estate company attempt to sell the track for the $12 million asking price. In September 2007, Worth Mitchell, a land developer, announced plans to purchase the speedway, but no further information was provided. On November 8, 2007, Bahre sold his share of the speedway to Smith as part of Smith's deal to buy New Hampshire Motor Speedway. From 2010 to 2011, the USAR ProCup Series, ASA Late Model Series and PASS Super Late Model Series announced that they would be running events on the grounds of North Wilkesboro Speedway. Despite racing being dormant at the facility, North Wilkesboro has been featured in several NASCAR-related video games, TV shows, music videos and movies.
Ontario Motor Speedway
The only track built to accommodate major races sanctioned by all four dominant racing sanctioning bodies (USAC, NASCAR, NHRA, and FIA), the Ontario Motor Speedway opened in Ontario, California, in August 1970. Among the racing events it hosted are the Los Angeles Times 500, the Miller High Life 500, and the Questor Grand Prix. The track was purchased for real estate development and demolished in 1981.
Pocono Raceway
Located in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, the Pocono Raceway--also known as the "Tricky Triangle" because of its unusual triangular or "roval" shape and severe turns--opened in 1971 as the Pocono International Raceway. The track has hosted NASCAR events such as the Purolator 500 and the NASCAR Xfinity Series as well as Indy Car races and ARCA Racing Series events. 2.5 miles in length, the track was designed by Indy 500 winner Roger Ward and has a distinctive design that features challenging turns modeled on turns at other prominent speedways such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile.
Road Atlanta
Road Atlanta, a 2.54-mile road course located near Braselton, Georgia, first opened in 1970 and quickly attracted top-level racing series including Can-Am, Trans-Am, IMSA Camel GT, and Formula 5000. After a period of unstable management that culminated in bankruptcy in 1993, the track underwent major refurbishments in the late 1990s and resumed hosting major racing events in 1998 with the first edition of the Petit Le Mans endurance race. NASCAR purchased the track in 2012 as part of its acquisition of the Panoz Motorsports Group.
Rockingham Speedway
First known as North Carolina Motor Speedway and later as the North Carolina Speedway, Rockingham Speedway opened as a one-mile track in Rockingham, North Carolina, in 1965. Among the races it hosted were the Peach Blossom 500 (later known as the Carolina 500) and the American 500, both Grand National Series events. Declining attendance eventually led to the track's closure in 2004. Since reopening in 2008, the track has hosted the ARCA Racing Series, also known as the American 200.
Roebling Road Raceway
Roebling Road Raceway, located in Bloomingdale, Georgia, opened in 1959 under the name Savannah International Raceway. The track is notable for its absence of grandstands or other amenities for spectators. Designed by John Rueter and financed by Robert Roebling, it hosted its first Sports Car Club of America event in 1960. The racetrack changed its name to Roebling Road Raceway in 1976. The track is now privately owned by a local sports club and holds various racing-related events.
Talladega Superspeedway
The Talladega Superspeedway, formerly named Alabama International Motor Speedway, is a motorsports track located in Lincoln, Alabama. International Speedway Corporation, owned by the France family, completed construction on the track in 1969 at a cost of $4 million to build. The Talladega Superspeedway is the largest NASCAR oval track with a length of 2.66 miles. Bill France intended for the Talladega Speedway to be faster and longer than Daytona International Speedway, and the track's inaugural race was boycotted by many of NASCAR's top drivers due to safety concerns in regard to the speed. The track was named the Alabama International Motor Speedway for twenty years until 1989, when the name was changed to Talladega Superspeedway.
Texas World Speedway
Located in College Station, Texas, the Texas World Speedway opened in the fall of 1969. It was built to be almost exactly like the Michigan International Speedway, which placed it among the only eight superspeedways in the U.S. This speedway held many major races including the Texas 500 and Alamo 500. It had its last major race in 1981. The National Auto Sport Association, the Porsche Club of America, driving schools, and many other amateur racing clubs and businesses also used this speedway. The speedway was officially closed in the fall of 2017.
Off the Track
Images in this collection document motorsports culture outside of racing events and tracks, and include promotional photo shoots, a visit to the White House, and a motorsports press association meeting. The reach of motorsports into popular culture was prominent by the mid-1990s, but NASCAR expanded efforts to attract new fans to motorsports during the 1960s. Prior to the 1990s, motorsports was considered a southern regional sport instead of a national sport. Beginning with Richard Nixon in 1971, the president of the United States typically invited the NASCAR premier series champion to the White House for recognition of their accomplishments the previous season. As the sport grew and expanded to new markets, new opportunities arose for drivers to be a part of popular culture. From multiple movies to Jeff Gordon hosting Saturday Night Live, motorsports has grown from a regional sport into a national sport.
Bryant McMurray Oral History Interviews
In this sequence of interviews, Bryant McMurray--photojournalist, sports photographer, skilled raconteur--discusses his lifelong involvement with the motorsports industry and his work as a photographer and entrepreneur. Topics covered include his early days as a freelancer, the pioneering techniques he developed to market his photographs, technical and psychological aspects of his trade, and the diverse events he covered as a photojournalist, which ranged from NASCAR races to the 1974 crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 212 to the visit of President Reagan to Charlotte Motor Speedway.