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The Huntsville Speedway: a storied institution for racing fans

The Huntsville Speedway is more than just an old structure off a back road...it's a family.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — “My first time coming to the Speedway, I was like five years old,” said Robbie Edger, the owner of the Huntsville Speedway. “We kind of grew up here and we’ve seen people come and go. So, it’s a family to us.”

A family, as the expression goes, comes in all shapes and sizes. Like one oval which has been home to a countless number of close relatives for over six decades.

“There is people here that they just basically they’re the top fan and they live nothing but the Speedway,” said Edger. “It’s all about what’s going on social media, they’re here from the time we open the gates to the time we close the gates. The Speedway is their life and definitely their pastime.

And like any family, the Huntsville Speedway has had to battle adversity, with the pandemic spreading its resources thin.

“The tires, the racing tires that we own, we’re having a big, big problem getting them,” said Edger. “If we don’t sell tires, that’s money that we don’t get in to be able to distribute back out to these guys and if we don’t have the money to give to them, then they don’t show up to race. Right now, we’re down to five tires in inventory. Any time prior to right now, we had no less than a hundred tires sitting on the shelf at any given time.”

But despite the limited supply of tires, the Huntsville Speedway has reopened its doors to the generations of fans eager to get back into their familiar confines.

“I think we survived simply because of the passion of our fanbase,” said Dr. Kevin Neal, the Race Director. “Our fanbase is terribly committed to racing here in Huntsville. And I think they’ve seen that from our side as well. They see the commitment we have to continue racing here in the Tennessee Valley and they just responded in kind beautifully.”

On Saturday, the Speedway honored Jimmy Williams, a man who adopted this racetrack as his home…where he emotionally settled down and stuck by through the hardships, until his death in July.

“Jimmy helped me build my first motor for my first car,” said Edger. “So, we go back all the way to my teenage years and we’ve got to come to the race track and watch him race and be a car owner and just be a father figure to a lot of people down here at the Speedway.”

“To me Jimmy Williams is just the picture perfect epitome of that local blood, guts, short track racer,” said Neal. “The guy that does it for the love of the sport and he’s dearly missed.”

“He loved racing, he started at a very young age building engines, tearing them apart, putting them back together,” said Kim Williams Price, Jimmy’s daughter. “He's helped countless individuals from Starling Marlin to the little people, I mean, you name it. I mean, this is amazing. He's looking down smiling, I can tell you that.”

Perhaps smiling as a token of pride, welcoming new family members into his home, and watching as they take a peak under the hood to see the love that makes the engine of the Huntsville Speedway tick.

Revisit Huntsville Speedway: 2020