Middle Georgia Raceway was a half-mile paved track that opened in 1966 for $500,000. During the inaugural race, the Speedy Morelock 200, Richard Petty broke the speed record for half-mile NASCAR tracks. In front of 7,500 spectators, Petty hit a top speed of 82.023 miles per hour. He won the 100-mile event in his 1966 Plymouth. The track held nine NASCAR Grand National races from 1966 to 1971. Richard Petty won four races, Bobby Allison won three, and David Pearson and Bobby Isaac each earned one victory.
Less than two months before the second race, on September 23, 1967, federal agents discovered a moonshine distillery in an underground bunker next to the track at turn three. The local newspaper described it as an elaborate, sophisticated operation with two fermenting tanks totaling 3,700 gallons. The distillery produced 80 gallons of moonshine per day. A trap door inside a ticket booth led 17 feet underground to a cave where the distillery was kept. The owner at the time, Lamar Brown Jr., was arrested after the discovery. The moonshine distillery had an electric exhaust system, electric lighting, and electronic insect-repellant devices. Federal agents found out about it after a hunter smelled fumes and tipped off the authorities. Agents would typically have blown it up with dynamite but instead used acetylene torches to destroy it so the racetrack would not be damaged.
A race was held the following day. During the trial, the government produced an invoice for 24 pounds of yeast purchased by Brown 10 days before the moonshine still was discovered. Brown said he bought the yeast to make food for the racetrack concession stand. The prosecutor told the jury that 24 pounds of yeast would make enough bread to feed Atlanta for a week. Brown was the only witness for the defense and adamantly denied knowing anything about the still. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding him not guilty.
NASCAR started its 1968 and 1969 seasons at Middle Georgia Raceway. Richard Petty set the track record with a speed of 85.121 mile-per-hour in November 1968. Later that season, Bobby Isaac shattered Petty’s lap record with a 98.148 mile-per-hour lap.
On the weekend of July 4, 1970, the second annual Atlanta International Pop Festival was held in a soybean field adjacent to the Middle Georgia Raceway. The Allman Brothers Band from Macon, who was relatively unknown before this festival, opened and closed the show. Jimi Hendrix headlined the three-day concert and played a unique rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at midnight on the 4th of July, accompanied by a fireworks display.
Described as the “Woodstock of the South,” bands played throughout the night while over 300,000 concertgoers descended on a town with a population of 1,500. The interstate was backed up for miles in both directions. Forested areas around the festival were transformed into campgrounds. The only thing law enforcement could do about the widespread drug use and nudity was to look the other way. Ticket prices for the weekend event to see the 30 bands were $14.00, a bargain even then. Still, thousands of music lovers were outside the gates demanding the gates be opened and the festival become free, like Woodstock. Promoters and security gave in and opened the gates an hour into the opening act’s first set.
Georgia’s Governor at the time, Lester Maddox, tried to repeatedly prevent the festival from taking place. With the help of the state legislature, restrictions were adopted to make it difficult to organize another festival of this size. A third Atlanta Pop Festival never happened. The Georgia Historical Society believes it was the largest American crowd Hendrix ever played in front of and one of his last performances before his untimely death in September 1970.
he final NASCAR race at the Middle Georgia Raceway was the 1971 Georgia 500, held on November 7, 1971. Even though NASCAR no longer used the track, many ASA racers of the late 1970s, like Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin raced here in amateur races. The last race of any notability was an ARCA race in 1984 that was won by Davey Allison. Middle Georgia Raceway permanently closed in 1986.
In 2011, the current owner, developer Tim Thornton, leased the track to Dodge, who used it for a Dodge Durango commercial. Dodge purchased a car locally for $2,000 and crashed it to add realism to the scenes filmed over eleven days. In the commercial, a sign stated it was the Brixton Motor Speedway. Thornton has opened the track for occasional events and reunions, but there are no plans to reopen the track. In 2019, he listed the 61-acre property for sale for $1.2 million. It is zoned general commercial and could be an industrial park or even a housing development.