Atomic No More

Attendance insufficient for Atomic

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 attendance declined.

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.