Moccasin Bend Racetrack Mystery Solved

Monday, July 9, 2018 - by John Shearer

A reader recently emailed chattanoogan.com regarding an old map that showed a racetrack on Moccasin Bend, and he was wondering what kind of track it was.

 

After a brief story ran saying information was sought, at least two readers responded pointing out that it was an old car racetrack in the 1950s.

 

Someone also sent an aerial photo of the track that was in an old 1950s “Pass Time” discount coupon book.

 

And as it turned out, longtime chattanoogan.com historical writer Harmon Jolley had also written a story about the track in 2010.

In the article, he said that it had been started by local grocer Herbert Clay Kirk on his 80-acre farm on Moccasin Bend and was in operation as a track for about three years in the mid-1950s.

 

He wrote that Mr. Kirk later moved to Florida, where he continued his successful career as a grocer.

 

Among the readers who responded recently to the request for information, Joe Sherrill, now of Mineral Springs, N.C., said that his father had raced on the dirt track with high banks in the 1950s and that several tracks existed in the area over the years.

 

“One of the earliest was at Warner Park,” he said. “It was for trotters and sulkies in the early part of the 20th century and race cars in the ‘30s and ‘40s, according to my dad.”

 

Mr. Sherrill also said that back in the 1980s when he was a Chattanooga police officer, he actually went on the then-closed Moccasin Bend track.

 

“There were several of us who had Jeeps. We would go out on the Bend and go Jeep racing around that track, which at that time was just muddy ruts. Other times we would go out there on dirt bikes.” 

 

Steve Hawthorne of Chattanooga added that he and some friends also went out on the track around 1979 and also remembers its run-down condition after decades of neglect.

 

“My friends and I would take laps in whatever we had, on the old rough track,” he said. “I remember there was one dirt road we kind of cleared out to get to the track. The infield of the track had grown over with small trees. There was a small wall still in places around the track.

 

“The turn seemed to bank slightly,” he said.

 

Both Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. Sherrill think the track might have been taken over by the Moccasin Bend water treatment facility.

 

But it is still apparently quite vivid in their memory.

 

“I work near there now and have often thought of the track’s location,” said Mr. Hawthorne.

 

* * * * *

 

To read Harmon Jolley’s 2010 story on the racetrack, click here.

http://www.chattanoogan.com/2010/2/20/169388/River-City-Racing---the-Moccasin-Bend.aspx

 

* * * * *

 

jcshearer2@comcast.net


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