Crete Carrier, which bought the facility more
than two years ago, officially broke ground on its new trucking
terminal to be located on the speedway site. That ceremony laid
to rest any hopes of the speedway's return.
The track remained intact until the final phase
of demolition a month ago. Until then, fans and drivers held out
hope that Crete would sell the property and it would return to a
track open for business.
After the grandstands and other buildings were
demolished or relocated, the racing surface remained in place
for more than a year. That sparked many rumors that Crete had a
change in plans on the site.
Atomic Speedway was one of the most popular
tracks in the area. After Carson Branum sold the track in early
2003, its demise ensued. Branum's final year was a troubled year
and that forced him to sell the facility to Jim Varnell of
Knoxville. Varnell held events at the speedway, but weekly
After two years of ownership, Varnell sold the
track to Ed Adams, a retired businessman from Lenoir City who
sponsored a number of drivers at Atomic. Adams came in with a
plan to freshen up the track with paint, pressure washers, and
reworked the racing surface. The move was applauded, but fans
came out primarily for special events.
Adams sold the track two years later to Crete
Carrier. Adams said the property was worth more as a commercial
or industrial site.
The demise of Atomic Speedway should serve as
a lesson that no racetrack is safe from the dreaded bulldozer.