Monday, April 14, 2014

Highland Rim Speedway. Home of the Caprice coupe

One of the most important parts of going to a new city is checking out the local racetracks. Nashville is in the heart of racing country, so it stands to reason that there would be some great racing here. Highland Rim Speedway in Greenbrier, Tenn., is a perfect example. This is a little bitty track—only a quarter-mile around. But it packs in some big action. This is a textbook example of what grassroots racing is all about. Close quarters, fast cars, and competitive drivers make this a must-see Saturday destination throughout the summer.

Highland Rim was a dirt track when it opened way back in 1962, but seven years later it received the asphalt surface that fans have come to know and love. Because of its location, many big-time drivers cut their teeth here, including Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Hamilton, Bobby Allison, and country music singer Marty Robbins. Does that make this a glamorous facility? No—thank goodness. It’s suitable to put the stars of the future to the test, but it has enough character and charm to keep generations of weekly racers coming back year after year.

I went there 10-15 years ago, and they have made some improvements since then. When I was there before, I sat in some of the scariest, most rickety grandstands I’ve ever been in. Now they’re nice metal and wood, and much more secure. Everything seemed clean and nice, and even the restrooms were pretty decent (you know, as racetrack restrooms go). My favorite feature from before is still there, though. They have a couple of “suite” buildings where VIPs and race control can hang out. They’re a couple of mobile homes with windows cut in them sitting on gigantic stilts that elevate them above the grandstands. You just have to love that.

They’re starting the races earlier in the day right now, and since I was out looking at houses with my REALTOR, I missed a couple of races. They run seven classes, which range from Baby Grands to Sportsman cars. The interesting part of all this to me is that three of the classes, the Super Stock, Sportsman, and the Pure Stocks, are dominated by Chevrolet Caprice coupes (there was an Olds 88 coupe that they were trying to disguise as a Caprice). Most of them are the ’77-’79 style, but there are a few from ’80-’86. They had a few Monte Carlos, which is what I’m used to seeing, but this Caprice phenomenon is new. I actually really liked seeing them out there—they look pretty cool.

I actually saw four of the seven features. The Tuner class is what I knew as Pony Stocks. Toby Tobitt drove an ugly (but fast) little primered Pontiac Starfire like a dirt car and took the win. The Pro Mod class consisted of five aftermarket body trucks and one ’87 Firebird. For the smallest car count, they may have been the craziest. Matt Spurlock won the four-cylinder competition in one of the trucks. In the Sportsman class, Lee Goddard smoked everybody with a really sharp looking Monte Carlo SS. And in the big 50-lap Super Stock race, 17-year-old Evan Birch killed ‘em in a mid-‘70s GM colonnade coupe. Charlie Godard won the Pure Stock race, Chris Willis won the Baby Grands, and Chris York won the Rim Runners.

If you ever get a chance to go there, what you’ll find is that the small track size and lower speeds actually add to the craziness. Contact is expected. I always thought that phrase “rubbin’s racin’” was kind of dumb, but it applies here. They don’t even throw a caution if someone wrecks on the last lap, which actually had an impact on the finish of the Sportsman feature. I was worried about a almost head-on collision. Everyone else just thought it was business as usual. You need to be tough to race here.

I had a great time at Highland Rim, and will definitely be going back soon. See all of my pictures, including the white Camaro pace car from Serra Chevrolet that looked a lot like the one I came in, in the slideshow below. Or click this link for a nicer version.

And if you’d like to know more about “The Rim”, visit


  1. I think I visited this raceway in the 90's. North of Nashville, way off the interstate. The raceway I visited, the cars had mufflers! This was also the only time I visited an asphalt raceway other than a NASCAR racetrack. Dirt here in Louisiana!