Bowman Gray Stadium

Coordinates: 36°4′58″N 80°13′20″W / 36.08278°N 80.22222°W / 36.08278; -80.22222
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bowman Gray Stadium
"the Madhouse"
Opening Night, Bowman Gray Stadium, April 2011
Location1250 S Martin Luther King Jr, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27107
OwnerCity of Winston-Salem
OperatorGray Garrison
Major eventsNASCAR Grand National (1958–1971)
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (2011–2015)
Whelen Southern Modified Tour (2005-2016) (Series folded in 2016)
1/4 mile flat oval
Length0.25 miles (0.40 km)
Banking0 Degrees
Race lap record12.965 seconds (Tim Brown, Team 83, 2016, Modified Division)
Bowman Gray Stadium
The Madhouse, Home of the Modifieds
Location1250 S Martin Luther King Jr, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27107
Coordinates36°4′58″N 80°13′20″W / 36.08278°N 80.22222°W / 36.08278; -80.22222
OwnerCity of Winston-Salem
OperatorDale Pinilis
Broke ground1936
Winston-Salem State Rams (NCAA) (1956-present)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (NCAA) (1956-1967)

Bowman Gray Stadium is a NASCAR sanctioned quarter-mile asphalt flat oval short track and longstanding football stadium located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It is one of stock car racing's most legendary venues, and is referred to as "NASCAR's longest-running weekly race track". Bowman Gray Stadium is part of the Winston-Salem Sports and Entertainment Complex and is home of the Winston-Salem State University Rams football team.[1] It was also the home of the Wake Forest University football team from 1956 until Groves Stadium (now Truist Field at Wake Forest) opened in 1968. Bowman Gray Stadium was a popular venue for high school football in the 1970s and 1980s. Parkland and R.J. Reynolds High Schools shared Bowman Gray Stadium as their home field for high school football until the two schools built their own facility (Deaton-Thompson Stadium) in 1994.


The stadium was built in 1937 as a public works project to provide jobs during the Great Depression. The first event at the new stadium was a football game in the fall of 1938 between Wake Forest College and Duke University. In the beginning, the stadium's sole use was for collegiate football until trotter horse racing was added on the 0.250-mile dirt oval. The first auto racing at Bowman Gray was a type of midget car racing on the dirt quarter mile track from 1939 through 1949. The track was paved in 1947, after a promoter got the City of Winston-Salem to agree to pay to have the track paved in exchange for restitution of payments through a percentage of future income from races. However, after the track was paved the promoter fled before any payments were made to the city.[2] Stock car racing at Bowman Gray Stadium was started by Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins, two men who were founding fathers of NASCAR. The track was NASCAR's very first weekly track and the very first paved track that NASCAR raced on. The track would run weekly NASCAR sanctioned events during the summer months.

The first NASCAR-sanctioned event took place on May 18, 1949, and was won by Fonty Flock.[3] The track was opened by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins, and remains operated by members of the Hawkins family to this day.[4] By the end of the inaugural Bowman Gray season 11 races had been run and five more were rained out. Tim Flock won the track championship with a season that included four wins.

As the racing had become extremely popular at the track, an additional 7,000 seats were added in 1953, raising the seating capacity from 10,000 to 17,000.[5]

The track has hosted numerous series throughout the years including the NASCAR Grand National Series (now NASCAR Cup Series), NASCAR Convertible Division, NASCAR Late Model Short Track Division (now NASCAR Xfinity Series), NASCAR Grand American, Dash Series, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division, and NASCAR K&N Pro Series.[6] The first Grand National event took place in 1958 and it was won by Bob Welborn.[7] Other winners include Glen Wood, Rex White, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson and Marvin Panch.[7] Richard Petty won his 100th race at the track. The Grand National Series first raced at the track in 1958 and hosted a total of 29 Grand National races through 1971.

Motorcycle races were run on a temporary dirt track at the stadium in 1970 and 1971. The stock car races were run first in the events before construction crews would lay dirt down during an intermission for motorcycles races the same night.[6]

Bowman Gray's nickname, the "Madhouse", is largely attributed to the racing antics that take place on the tight, quarter mile bull ring. In 2014, Bowman Gray's promoter, Gray Garrison described the events at BGS as part racing, part religion, and part wrestling.[8] While this is partially the reason for the nickname, it actually originated from a qualifying format the track used in the 1950s called the "mad scramble."[4]

In 2015, Bowman Gray celebrated its 1,000th NASCAR sanctioned race [9]

On November 14, 2018, it was announced that the Stadium would get a $9 million renovation. It will begin in 2019, with construction starting in 2020 and ending in 2022. It will include new restrooms, a track resurfacing, and a new name for the football field titled "Rams Field At Bowman Gray".[10] Currently, the track features four divisions: the modifieds, sportsman, street stock and stadium stock. The modifieds are the featured division at Bowman Gray, the division started in 1949 and the all-time wins list features some of the best NASCAR drivers including Lee Petty, Ralph Earnhardt, Ned Jarrett, Richie Evans, and Jerry Cook.

The football history of the stadium is also quite storied. Wake Forest University played home games in the stadium from its move to Winston-Salem in 1956, until the 1968 season when Groves Stadium (now Truist Field at Wake Forest) opened. Players such as Brian Piccolo, the 1964 ACC Player of the Year who led the nation in rushing and scoring, played their home games in Bowman Gray. Piccolo later became famous as the teammate of Gale Sayers with the Chicago Bears, and the subject of the 1971 film Brian's Song. The Winston-Salem high schools of R.J. Reynolds High and Parkland High also played their home games at the stadium in the late 1960s through the 1980s.


Bowman Gray's weekly racing tradition continues as part of the Whelen All-American Series, with races Saturday evenings from the end of April through August.[11] The track can seat 17,000 people in the stands, with an additional 2,000 standing-room around the wall above the seating areas. The weekly races during the year normally have an average attendance between 12,000 and 15,000 per night. Many events are standing room only, as some events have had estimated crowds of more than 23,000 show up.[6]

Weekly races include the modified, sportsman, street stock and stadium stock divisions. Bowman Gray is also a part of the special events including classic modified coupes and East Coast Flathead Ford Racing Association (ECFFRA), monster trucks, demolition derbies, chain races, skid races and INEX Legends Car and bandolero races. The History Channel show MadHouse was taped at the track during the 2009 season. The showed aired in January 2010 and ran through April 2010. On October 29, 2018, a new show titled "Race Night At Bowman Gray" aired on Discovery Channel. The show focused on the Modified Division. After the first few episodes, the show was moved to the Discovery Go App, after fear of cancellation. The show would later go on to eventually be canceled.

Spectators listen to the officials during the races on frequencies 461.200 MHz, 463.625 MHz, and 466.600 MHz on a scanner or "race radio." Many, if not all of the drivers also communicate via a two-way radio during the race. Most of them use a frequency between 450 and 470 MHz, but there are exceptions.

On October 11, 2021, NASCAR announced that they will be running a tire test at Bowman Gray for the Next Gen (NASCAR) car, in preparation for the 2022 Busch Clash, now in the L.A. Coliseum with a track layout similar to the Madhouse. This was the first time in over 50 years that NASCAR Cup Series cars ran on the legendary track.

For the 2022 racing season, along with the other previously announced renovations, new concession stands and drains in the apron of the turns were added to help remove water in the event of rain.

In July 2023 the stadium played host to baseball for the first time as the Winston-Salem-based Carolina Disco Turkeys hosted Albemarle's Uwharrie Wampus Cats and the Winston-Salem Moravians in a series of games featuring independent teams.[12]

Past NASCAR Cup Series winners[edit]

Year Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race distance Race time Average speed
Miles Laps
1958 May 24 Bob Welborn Julian Petty Chevrolet 37.5 150 40.407
1958 Aug 22 Lee Petty Petty Enterprises Oldsmobile 50 200 39.258
1959 Mar 30 Jim Reed Jim Reed Ford 50 200 43.562
1959 Jun 27 Rex White Rex White Chevrolet 50 200 41.228
1959 Aug 21 Rex White Rex White Chevrolet 50 200 44.085
1960 Apr 18 Glen Wood Wood Brothers Ford 50 200 43.082
1960 Jun 26 Glen Wood Wood Brothers Ford 50 200 45.872
1960 Aug 23 Glen Wood Wood Brothers Ford 50 200 43.389
1961 Apr 3 Rex White Rex White Chevrolet 37.5 150 45.500
1961 Jun 10 Rex White Rex White Chevrolet 50 200 42.714
1961 Aug 9 Rex White Rex White Chevrolet 37.5 150 42.452
1962 Apr 23 Rex White Rex White Chevrolet 27 108 43.392
1962 Jun 16 Johnny Allen Fred Lovette Pontiac 50 200 45.466
1962 Aug 18 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Plymouth 50 200 46.875
1963 Apr 15 Jim Paschal Petty Enterprises Plymouth 50 200 46.814
1963 Jul 13 Glen Wood Wood Brothers Ford 50 200 44.390
1963 Aug 16 Junior Johnson Ray Fox Chevrolet 50 200 46.320
1964 Mar 30 Marvin Panch Wood Brothers Ford 50 200 47.796
1964 Aug 22 Junior Johnson Banjo Matthews Ford 62.5 250 46.192
1965 May 15 Junior Johnson Junior Johnson Ford 50 200 47.911
1965 Aug 28 Junior Johnson Junior Johnson Ford 62.5 250 46.632
1966 Apr 11 David Pearson Cotton Owens Dodge 50 200 51.341
1966 Aug 27 David Pearson Cotton Owens Dodge 62.5 250 45.928
1967 Mar 27 Bobby Allison J.D. Bracken Chevrolet 50 200 49.248
1967 Aug 12 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Plymouth 62.5 250 50.893
1968 Aug 10 David Pearson Holman-Moody Ford 62.5 250 42.940
1969 Aug 22 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Ford 62.5 250 47.458
1970 Aug 28 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Plymouth 62.5 250 51.527
1971 Aug 6 *Bobby Allison Melvin Joseph Mustang 62.5 250 44.792
  • In 1971, the Grand National Series allowed drivers to choose a smaller car from the Grand American division, which ran smaller pony cars, like the Ford Mustang which Bobby Allison chose for the race, alongside cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and AMC Javelin. Allison's usual car was the Ford Galaxie, but for this race at the shortest paved track on the schedule, he chose a shorter-wheelbase car with a much smaller engine, 302cui, 5.0ltr. V8 versus the Galaxie's 427cui, 7ltr V8. The shorter wheelbase allowed much better handling on slow, narrow short tracks like Bowman-Gray, but gave Allison an advantage that was seen as unfair by his competitors, such as second-place runner Richard Petty, whom filed an official complaint with NASCAR officials at the close of the race. NASCAR officials agreed, and stripped Allison of his win and prize money. However, instead of declaring Petty the winner, NASCAR left the race without an official winner. To this day, Allison reports his win count as 85, despite his official win total being 84. In motorsport series with different classes of cars in the same event, there are different class winners per race (a procedure similar to what NASCAR used for later combination races). In this case, Allison, in a Grand American car, would be classified as the overall race winner and Grand American class winner, and Petty, in a Grand National car, would be classified as the Grand National class winner. Petty would have 201 wins under this classification.

Multiple Winners (Drivers)[edit]

Wins Driver
6 Rex White
4 Glen Wood
4 Richard Petty
4 Junior Johnson
3 David Pearson
2 Bobby Allison

Multiple Winners (Owners)[edit]

Wins Driver
6 Rex White
6 Petty Enterprises
5 Wood Brothers
2 Junior Johnson
2 Cotton Owens

Manufacturer Wins[edit]

Wins Manufacturer
12 Ford
9 Chevrolet
4 Plymouth
2 Dodge
1 Oldsmobile
1 Pontiac
1 Mustang

Past NASCAR Convertible Series Winners[edit]

Year Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race distance Race time Average speed
Miles Laps
1956 Aug 3 Curtis Turner Pete DePaolo Ford 37.5 150
1957 Apr 22 Curtis Turner Pete DePaolo Ford 35 140 0:58:42 35.775
1957 Jun 22 Bob Welborn Bob Welborn Chevrolet 37.5 150 0:57:46 38.95
1958 Apr 7 Bob Welborn Julian Petty Chevrolet 37.5 150 0:52:03 43.228
1959 May 23 Glen Wood Wood Brothers Ford 50 200 1:09:17 43.300


  • Apr 22, 1957: Race shortened from 150 laps to 140 due to rain.

Track Champions[edit]

  • 2020 season was canceled due to COVID
Year Modified Champion Sportsman / Amateur Champion Street Stock / Hobby Champion Stadium Stock / Blunderbust Champion
1949 Tim Flock
1950 Jimmie Lewallen
1951 Billy Myers
1952 Bobby Myers
1953 Billy Myers
1954 Glen Wood
1955 Billy Myers
1956 Pee Wee Jones
1957 Pee Wee Jones
1958 Pee Wee Jones Bill Scott
1959 Pee Wee Jones
1960 Pee Wee Jones
1961 Glen Wood Robert Berrier Shorry Riggins
1962 Perk Brown Leon Russell
1963 Billy Hensley Bubba Beck
1964 Ken Rush
1965 Carl Burris
1966 Ken Rush Bill Covington
1967 Pee Wee Jones Ralph Brinkley
1968 Perk Brown
1969 Perk Brown Al Hill Wendell Edwards
1970 Don Miller Al Hill
1971 Max Berrier
1972 Max Berrier Al Hill
1973 Ralph Brinkley Al Hill
1974 Ralph Brinkley Al Hill Max Martin
1975 Billy Hensley Al Hill Mitchell Warden
1976 Ralph Brinkley Bill Wilder Ken Cheek
1977 Paul Radford Jimmy Johnson Ben Jordon Timmy Canard
1978 Paul Radford Jimmy Johnson Tony Hulin Sherman Dalton
1979 Don Smith Jimmy Johnson Ben Young Roger Craver
1980 Ralph Brinkley Billy Kimel Sherman Dalton Dale Ward
1981 Ralph Brinkley Jimmy Johnson Spider Kimel Dale Ward
1982 Ralph Brinkley Jimmy Johnson Billy Duggins G.R. Merritt
1983 Satch Worley Dink Osborne Danny Trivette Dean Ward
1984 Johnny Johnson Spider Kimel Danny Trivette Dean Ward
1985 Satch Worley Phillip Hill Larry Eubanks Ricky Gregg
1986 Ralph Brinkley Bill Wilder David Adams Chris Ward
1987 Ralph Brinkley Kenny Mabe Ricky Gregg Frank Ward
1988 Phillip Smith Jimmy Johnson Kenneth Stimpson Mark Faust
1989 Phillip Smith Ricky Gregg Barry Edwards Dean Ward
1990 Junior Miller Ricky Gregg Ronnie Clifton Dean Ward
1991 Don Smith Mike Miller Barry Edwards Rob Neely
1992 Junior Miller Ricky Gregg Bryan Weatherman Brent Weaver
1993 Junior Miller Todd Hunt Bryan Weatherman Tommy Neal
1994 Robert Jeffreys Gene Pack Tim McGlamery Tommy Neal
1995 Robert Jeffreys Gene Pack Tim McGlamery Randy Moore
1996 Tim Brown Willie Newman Rik Newsom Charlie Curry
1997 Tim Brown David Adams Rusty Harpe Ronnie Bassett
1998 Tim Brown David Adams Kyle Edwards Matt Hill
1999 Burt Myers Jason Brown Mack Little III Randy Moore
2000 Junior Miller Jason Brown Mack Little III Johnny Burke
2001 Burt Myers Barry Edwards Jason Myers Mitch Gales
2002 Tim Brown Ronnie Clifton Kyle Edwards Charlie Curry
2003 Junior Miller Ronnie Clifton Steven Berrier Kenny Bost
2004 Tim Brown Ronnie Clifton Johnny Arnder Kenny Bost
2005 Tim Brown Ronnie Clifton Steven Berrier Kenny Bost
2006 Junior Miller Ronnie Clifton Steven Berrier A.J. Sanders
2007 Burt Myers Ronnie Clifton John McNeal Michael Wells
2008 Tim Brown Ronnie Clifton Ryan Nelson Johnny Burke
2009 Tim Brown Ronnie Clifton David Sumner Dale Barneycastle
2010 Burt Myers Kyle Edwards Matt Cotner Jason Keaton
2011 Burt Myers Robbie Brewer John McNeal Chris Lawing
2012 Tim Brown Derek Stoltz Billy Gregg Charlie Curry
2013 Burt Myers Mack Little III Doug Wall Chuck Wall
2014 Danny Bohn Taylor Branch Chase Hunt Chuck Wall
2015 Tim Brown Zack Clifton Derrick Rice Chuck Wall
2016 Burt Myers Tommy Neal Derrick Rice A.J. Sanders
2017 Burt Myers Derek Stoltz Jacob Creed Wesley Thompson
2018 Burt Myers Kevin Neal Spencer Martin Wesley Thompson
2019 Burt Myers Justin Taylor Billy Gregg Chuck Wall
2021 Tim Brown Tommy Neal Billy Gregg Brandon Brendle
2022 Tim Brown Tommy Neal Billy Gregg A.J. Sanders
2023 Brandon Ward Chase Robertson Christian Joyce A.J. Sanders

Modified and Sportsman car counts were thin during the latter part of the 1950s and the track combined the two and let the V6s run with the V8s and named it the "Modified-Sportsman Division". Leading into the 1968 season, the track dropped the Sportsman cars and title, hence officially named the featured division as the Modifieds.

The Amateur Division was the support division to the Modified-Sportsman and ran from 1950 to mid-1958, where the division dissolved and the track picked up the Hobby Division.

The Claiming Division was tabbed as a third weekly division in 1964. It was a division that cost only $99 to run, it was so popular that the track had to cut the fields down to two races with ten cars apiece. The division ran from 1964 to 1972. The track changed the name to what is now the Sportsman Division.

The Hobby Division, which was the predecessor of the Street Stock Division, ran from mid-1958 to 1974. Then the following year, the division was renamed to the Street Stocks.

Bowman Gray ran Blunderbust races as a fourth division from 1977-1989 until they replaced that division with the Buzzbomber Division in 1990. The following season, the track kept the cars, but changed the division to what is now the Stadium Stock Division.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zona, Chris; Trevin Goodwin (2007). 2007 Rams Football (PDF). Winston-Salem State Athletics. p. 30.
  2. ^ Miller, Richard (2013). Bowman Gray Stadium. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 7–12. ISBN 978-0738599182.
  3. ^ "A LOOK BACK: Bowman Gray". Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
  4. ^ a b Getty Images for NASCAR (2015-08-14). "Bowman Gray Set For Special Night | NASCAR Home Tracks". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  5. ^ Miller, Richard (2013). Bowman Gray Stadium. Arcadia Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-0738599182.
  6. ^ a b c Miller, Richard (2013). Bowman Gray Stadium. Arcadia Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-0738599182.
  7. ^ a b "Bowman Gray Stadium NASCAR results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  8. ^ Posted 10:47 pm, July 23, 2014, by Neill McNeill (2014-07-23). "Newsmakers: Bowman Gray promoter Gray Garrison". Retrieved 2016-09-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Jay Spivey/Winston-Salem Journal (13 August 2015). "1,000 Races: Bowman Gray to reach NASCAR milestone Saturday - Winston-Salem Journal: Bowman Gray". Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  10. ^ "New Deal Brings Million In Bowman Gray Stadium Improvements". 14 November 2018.
  11. ^ Fan Information." Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  12. ^ "Batter up at Bowman Gray with the Carolina Disco Turkeys". 28 June 2023. Retrieved 2024-02-22.

External links[edit]