It Just Might Work: The Greensboro Grand Prix

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by Brian Clarey

For this week’s installment of It Just Might Work, I turn to an idea pitched by an old friend of mine, Ogi Overman, who came up with it way back when he was the editor of ESP magazine: the Greensboro Grand Prix, a 500-mile road race using the streets of the Gate City as the track.

“I actually rode around town and laid out a five-mile track,” Overman says. “A 500-mile race would be 100 laps. It runs down Wendover, along Benjamin to Smith Street, circle around at Fisher Park. There’s a bunch of straightaways, a bunch of tight curves, a bunch of viewing stands I laid out. The pits and garage was gonna be at old War Memorial Stadium. That would be the start and finish lines, and the pits would be along Yanceyville Street.”

He first pitched it in the pages of ESP right around the turn of the century.

“That’s when I was coming out with all these ideas,” he says. “Century Boulevard, where every block of Elm Street is a different decade of the 20th Century. The carousel downtown. The Ferris wheel. The downtown skating rink that became a reality that I never got credit for.”

But the grand prix almost happened.

“Rich Brenner picked up on it, and High Point was going to do it before the economy tanked,” he says. “They were raising money to do one. Then Rich passed. Looks like they forgot all about it.”

But I think the Greensboro Grand Prix is a great idea. We already have plenty of racing fans in the area, and Greensboro has shown it can handle a big-time sporting event. Overman agrees.

“NASCAR is kinda… I don’t know… people are over NASCAR in a way,” he says. “You look at the stands at the races and they’re not full. I think if we can get racing fans to realize that racing is racing, whether its stock cars or Formula 1 or whatever, I think we can get people out.”