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October 17, 1937    -   Died: July 17, 2019
Home: Apex, NC


FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/charles.e.hobby

From Gene Hobby

Your site is so awesome!  Both, the photos and write-ups, are very bold and clear, and the pictures are really big.   Your site is excellent, as far as reading about the drivers and seeing all their photos.  Each page has it's own lay out, and I don't know who's putting the pages together with all the writing and photos, and how to place everything, but it is wonderful!  It's very easy to read and the reader knows exactly where to place their eyes and we're not distracted by all the busy stuff in the left and right margins.

Briefly, I started Grand Nationals in March, 1964. Bought a 1962 Dodge from Larry Thomas of Trinity, NC. 1st season ran 18 races. Best finish in 1964 was 8th place at Spartanburg. Had 5 top 10's. I ran 35 cup races from 1964-1966. 1965 season, I bought a '64 Dodge from Buddy Arrington that he had purchased from Cotton Owens. Best finish in '65 was 4th place at Spartanburg; and 6th place at Richmond. During the latter part of 65 and most of 66, I relief drove for several drivers during the year. I had drivers Buddy Baker, Darrell Bryant, Joe Holder, J.T. Putney, Lee Roy Yarbrough. Ran late models in 1967-1977. Ran Dash Series in 1983-1986. Dash races included all the short tracks plus Daytona and Charlotte.  My home town is APEX, NC but lived in Henderson a couple of years during 64-65.

MY INTERVIEW WITH CARL EDWARDS: This link is my interview on Channel 17 NBC News with CARL EDWARDS and Page Crawford - we talk about the safety features from the 60's vs. the safety features of today.

Also, on Roy Tyner's page  a photo of Roy Tyner (#9) and myself (#99) at Occoneechee Speedway, 1964.
Gene reports:
Roy and I tangled up in 1 and 2 and I spun around and got back on the track before Roy. 
Larry Thomas (#36) is in front of us."

This is an article and photo that some of you may have already seen as my Dad Gene Hobby made the front page of the Triangle section of the News and Observer. Dad raced in Hillsborough, NC back in the 60's and this is an article about the Historic Speedway that he and his fellow members of the "Historic Speedway Group" are trying to restore.  GINA

New highway could threaten old speedway 

Holding a model of the 1964 Dodge he raced at the old Occoneechee-Orange Speedway in mid-'60s, Gene Hobby of Apex says the racetrack is 'sacred ground.'

- Staff Writer  - NEWSOBSERVER.COM  -  Published Fri, Dec 25, 2009 02:00 AM

HILLSBOROUGH -- As a young stock-car driver in 1965, Apex resident Gene Hobby had a ball joint fail, dropping the front end into the dirt and rolling his Carolina Blue Dodge 330 sedan over five times.

"It's about like rolling in a 55-gallon drum down the side of a mountain," he said.

Fortunately, it was the year NASCAR began requiring seatbelts, and Hobby had tightened his during the national anthem. He escaped with a couple of bruises and a cut on his finger. His friend Frank Craig, though, was 12 years old and spilled his snow cone all over himself.

"I was scared to death," Craig said. "You still owe me a snow cone."

Forty-five years later, the N.C. Department of Transportation is considering a new road that would bisect the Occoneechee-Orange Speedway, NASCAR's third-ever dirt track. Built in 1948, it's now a natural area that attracts runners, dog-walkers, wild turkeys and dozens of racing preservationists.

"This is sacred ground," said Hobby, 72, touring the speedway on Wednesday. "DOT better not come through here."

Crossing the track is one of three DOT alternatives for routing traffic from N.C. 86 around downtown Hillsborough. All start near its junction with U.S. 70A and run north to U.S. 70 near St.Mary's Road.

Boards oppose options

The speedway route would also pass within 100 feet of the historic house at Ayr Mount, a plantation that turns 200 years old in 2015. Another route would knock out about 20 homes, and the third would pave Poplar Ridge overlooking the Eno River.

The Hillsborough Town Board and the Orange County Board of Commissioners have opposed all three options. The boards prefer other means of relieving congestion along N.C. 86, the town's main north-south corridor, which passes directly through the quaint downtown.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens calls DOT's alternatives "20th-century solutions for a 21st-century problem." He wants to improve public transit and create multiple routes around downtown with minor realignments of existing roads.

"They've got 100 ways to go around town without coming through here," Hobby said of the speedway.

Vince Rhea, a DOT project planning engineer, said the Federal Highway Administration and the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office will scrutinize the speedway crossing because of its impact on the national landmarks.

"If you've got another alternative that's feasible and prudent, you're going to have a hard time going through a protected property," he said. "They're not likely to do that."

Rhea said the DOT and other state and federal agencies will decide by the end of March whether to proceed with the bypass. Construction would be unlikely to start for at least five years, he said.

Restored past

Hobby and his partners in the Historic Speedway Group have spent the past two years restoring the track. They've cleared trees that had overgrown the dirt track and rebuilt the ticket booth, flag stand and corrugated metal fence around the grounds.

Craig, now the group's president, figures they've spent about $70,000 and thousands of volunteer hours on the project.

The Orange Speedway is one of three auto race tracks on the National Register of Historic Places. The others are the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

"God built that," Craig said.

"Can you imagine them putting a bypass through the Salt Flats or Indianapolis?" Hobby added.

The Occoneechee Speedway was named for the Native American tribe that populated North Carolina's Piedmont until the 17th century. It borrowed a straightaway from an old horse-racing track on the site and is the last remaining speedway from NASCAR's inaugural season, 1949. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. changed the name to Orange Speedway in 1955.

"Nobody could spell Occoneechee," Craig explained.

A 52-year-old Hillsborough native, Craig said NASCAR king Richard Petty's Plymouth HEMI engine would echo through the town when he raced.

"It'd give you chills," Hobby added.

Hobby recalled spectators who climbed trees for a better view of the track. Once, he said, a car rolled off the track, hit a tree and knocked three people to the ground.

The speedway also tells the story of integration: The ruins of separate bathrooms remained even as Craig told the story of Wendell Scott, the only African-American to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. "He ran here," Craig said. "He was a self-made man. ... He would sometimes get out of the car and change tireshimself."

Hobbled by the washboard ruts that marred the turns on the dirt track, Hobby ended up losing the 1965 race to two-time NASCAR champion Ned Jarrett. He was just happy France had mandated seatbelts that year.

Now, Hobby likes to show off a model of his No. 99 Dodge, about the size of a loaf of bread, mounted on a bed of dirt dug from the speedway.

"Turn it upside down like it was," Craig urged him. "It turns into No. 66."

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens calls DOT's alternatives "20th-century solutions for a 21st-century problem." He wants to improve public transit and create multiple routes around downtown with minor realignments of existing roads.



I kept trying to pass Jack Anderson and finally spun him out and he hit Buddy Baker.  I kept going after we all spun out in the end field and I got out first, and that's when, in a few laps, Buddy caught me and pulled up on the outside of me, and turned a sharp left hitting me in my right quarter panel, and I almost crashed into the pit wall. I finished but Buddy came out with radiator problems, and that's when I met Buddy Baker in the pay line after the race at Clay Earl's office.  Check #20's quarter panel (ha).
Pictured are#99 Gene Hobby, Ned Jarrett #11, #20 Jack Anderson, #43 Richard Petty, #22 Fireball Roberts, #34 Wendell Scott  -  Thanks so much,   Gene Hobby #99,   Apex, NC



THE Incredible Wreck . . .  that Almost Ended it.....






Wife & Daughter

                                     Gene with Bill Elliott



This is a die cast replica of the actual blue Dodge race car I drove in the 60's. Check out the clay!

                  Daytona International - Goody's Dash Series

Stating the command 'Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!' at the first event in Hillsborough, NC.

This is the Pace Car ('65 Dodge Station Wagon) I drove in South Boston, VA in September 2008.  It belongs to our 'Historic Speedway Group' of the old Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, NC.

CHARLES ''GENE'' HOBBY Grand National DRIVER Statistics

Race Site Cars St Fin # Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led
5 Spartanburg 16 11 4 99 Gene Hobby Dodge 170/200 300 running 0
Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1964 26 18 of 62 0 0 3 0 4013 0 2,795 44 20.1 14.6
1965 27 15 of 55 0 1 2 0 1970 0 2,560 51 20.2 15.8
1966 28 2 of 49 0 0 0 0 34 0 0 135 25.0 25.5
3 years 35 0 1 5 0 6017 0 5,355   20.4 15.7
Year Driver Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1965 Buddy Baker 1 0 0 0 0 16 0 26,836 9 18.0 18.0
1965 Darrell Bryant 1 0 0 0 0 44 0 755 91 17.0 15.0
1965 Gene Hobby 15 0 1 2 0 1970 0 2,560 51 20.2 15.8
1965 Joe Holder 2 0 0 0 0 135 0 200 114 21.5 21.5
1965 J.T. Putney 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 22,329 7 18.0 23.0
1965 LeeRoy Yarbrough 1 0 0 0 0 25 0 5,905 37 19.0 21.0
1965 Gene Hobby 2 0 0 0 0 34 0 0 135 25.0 25.5
2 years 23 0 1 2 0 2225 0 58,585   20.3 17.7

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