MILTON — Southern Raceway has been showcasing racing events for over 30 years.
Opening on Labor Day in 1988, this track has seen racers from beginners to long-time veterans come and go bringing the excitement of what they call "the need for speed" to visitors.
Tom Lowery, current owner of the raceway, said he bought the complex, located at 9359 Nichols Lake Road, back in 2015 because of his intense interest in the sport.
"I just love racing," Lowery said. "I guess that made me buy the place."
Lowery said he is the fourth owner of the raceway. The raceway was built and founded, according to Lowery, by original owner Bernie Barnhill.
"Everybody knew Bernie," Lowery said. "He was a good guy."
Lowery said after Barnhill sold the raceway it was owned by two families before Lowery bought it. He said when he bought it, the tracks were in decent shape but the raceway had gotten away from doing big racing events and had gotten comfortable doing smaller weekend-style races. Feeling Milton needed bigger races to attract more attention, Lowery said he set about changing that.
"One thing I did was to make Southern Raceway part of Speed Week," he said.
Speed Week is a week of special races that are part of the events leading up to the famous Daytona 500, Lowery said. He said he also introduced a big event after Daytona 500 that brought in retired NASCAR racer Tony Stewart.
Stewart has now raced at Southern Raceway for the past several years.
"He has even won a couple of races here," Lowery said.
For the future, Lowery said he wants to improve the facilities, including the landscaping. Within the next year, he said he will be completely remodeling the terrace seating area of the track, which includes a large grass area. He said his long-term goal is to get as many young people interested in the sport as he can and continue to build racing in the area.
Southern Raceway is a 3/8-mile dirt oval track that offers short track racing. According to Lowery, the raceway offers pure stock, street stock, vintage, sportsman, stingers and open-wheel modified racing. He said they also offer sprints and late model racing on select nights throughout the season.