January 20, 2020-Greenville, SC-By Gray Sutherland
With racing season right around the corner for some, the off season has contained plenty of moving and shaking with the changing of the guard occurring at some facilities. Harris Speedway sits in a valley just outside of the small town of Harris off of Highway 221, south of Rutherfordton. This track has a storied history as most do but a new chapter has entered its book. Just after the turn of the 2020 new year, Harris has new ownership in town.
Meet Joe Crowell. A 37 year old businessman from not too far away Hendersonville, NC has taken over ownership of the historic North Carolina track that has hosted events for the last 60+ years that also include 2 NASCAR races in the mid 60s. Crowell certainly is no stranger to the world of motorsports growing up with a love for not just dirt racing but a variety of racing. He went to further his education at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina and studied construction and business management as majors striving to enter auto world as a mechanic. He is currently the owner-operator at Eurotechnik specializing in German manufactured vehicles such as BMW and Volkswagen. Some of Crowell’s background in racing includes a professional road racing tour in the SCCA, the Sports Car Club of America. This tour has individual and team racing as part of their program. Crowell also has plenty of participation in local dirt racing at racks throughout the I-85 corridor. He has driven at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, at Travelers Rest Speedway where he is a feature winner, and at Harris Speedway where he looks for his next chapter to begin.
This deal for Harris came about while talking with Mitchell Coggins one night. Coggins will be the new promoter/flagman in the Crowell administration. Another meeting took place with former owner Curtis Teems and a sale was agreed to. The purchase was confirmed on January 11th, 2020. Since that time Crowell and company have already begun to clean the facility and set out to make improvements to prepare for opening day.
He hopes to build upon the history and nostalgia that is already in place at Harris. As previously mentioned, some of the history at Harris contains two NASCAR races. In 1964 the NASCAR Grand National Series came to the paved speedway that was part of the facility for the 60th race of the season. Richard Petty and Ned Jarrett would dominate the event with Petty winning by a full lap over Jarrett. Other names that took part in this ’64 race were Bobby Isaac, Wendell Scott, and David Pearson. NASCAR returned on May 30, 1965 for the 22nd race of the season. This time around Petty was not part of the event because of the Chrysler boycott of NASCAR. Petty won the ’64 race driving a ’64 Plymouth which was part of the Chrysler brand. With the absence of the Petty, Ned Jarrett ran laps around the the rest of the field winning by 4 full laps.
To help further improve the facility, Crowell plans to add new lighting around the track and work on the racing surface with new clay. More updates contain updates to the restrooms and stands and plans to run transponders weekly for scoring. He is extremely grateful for the support that Doris and Curtis Teems have done to help grown and continue the tradition of Harris. He will have a willingness to work with other area tracks on scheduling and welcomes feedback on what further improvements can be made to help.
The news of Crowell acquiring Harris was well recevied throughout the racing community and he has deeply invested to make this a long term project with reachable goals going into the future. Coming up on the schedule for Harris in 2020 will be the Blue Ridge Outlaw Late Models and the Carolina Sprint Tour. An outline of the 2020 is currently on their website with a list of divisions that will be ran weekly.