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Question about Williams Brice


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Looking at this picture from 1951. Was that a racetrack at the fairgrounds?
I have never seen this Pic before and never heard of a racetrack being there.
The old Columbia Speedway in Cayce opened in 1951 and I went to the Racers Reunion event there in 2009 that is mentioned in the link below:

Columbia Speedway is an oval racetrack located in Cayce, a suburb of Columbia, South Carolina. It was the site of auto races for NASCAR's top series from 1951 through 1971.[1] For most of its history, the racing surface was dirt. The races in April and August 1970 were two of the final three NASCAR Grand National races ever held on a dirt track.[2] The track was paved before hosting its last two Grand National races in 1971.[3]

The track also hosted 8 NASCAR Convertible Series races between 1956 and 1959, the lone Richard Petty's win at the series as at Columbia Speedway. The speedway also hosted 4 NASCAR Grand National East Series events.

I have never heard of a fairgrounds speedway, but anything was possible back then.

I don't think you would have wanted to get loose in 1 and 2 and end up over the fence and on Olympia. I hope they blocked that road off on race day.

Of course, this track is going to stay in my brain for the rest of the week now. Maybe they started racing at the Cayce track after 1951.
I found this link:


Here’s list of race tracks that I could find that were and are still here in the Columbia area.
Columbia Fairgrounds Race Track – Located at the Fair grounds in Columbia – It’s listed as a 1 mile track. Most likely a horse track. Active years 1910-1916, 1929,1940-1941.

A horse track makes more sense. No way you would put a turn on an auto racing track so close to a street like that.

The grandstands were probably used for livestock auctions, rodeos, and other events, too.
The Congaree Race Course for horses used to be located where the Epworth Children's Home is today.

The Civil War brought the end of horse racing in South Carolina, as they knew it. Most properties sold, stables were disbanded and the once popular jockey clubs dissolved as well — however, some relics can still be seen in the Charleston Library.
Interesting link on the history of horse racing in SC. It seemed to be a Charleston thing.

Recovery following the Revolution brought a huge following to racing. Racing continued in Charleston at the new Washington Course, which coincided with a gala social season of fetes, balls, and dinners. Not to be outdone, the elegant setting and refined audience attending the racing scene at Pinewood claimed to rival that of the British course at Goodwood. St. Matthews, Pendleton, Greenville, Barnwell, Newberry, Laurensville, Deadfall, Beaufort, Georgetown, Camden, and Orangeburg all held races during the antebellum era, and some even had registered jockey clubs.
I used to go to the Cayce race track way back in the day with my Father and Uncle, this would have been 1966 - 1970. I remember it being very noisy and dusty as it was a dirt track.

There was a fence around the entire place and I remember on one turn there was a stand of trees that came right up to the fence. People would climb the trees to get above the fence and watch for free.

One night a car got hit pretty hard by another car trying to pass and it was knocked off of the track on that turn and sailed/crashed right through the fence. It took maybe 5 - 10 seconds for everyone in those trees to unass the area. It was pretty funny. We later found out that no one (including the driver) was hurt.
I didn't even think about horses. Being from Aiken, several closed horse tracks around here, I should of thought of that.
Buck Baker used to run a car like this at a dirt track at the old Greenwood County Fairgrounds back in the day.


I remember seeing the old dirt track lit up when we went to the fair one Saturday night in the 1970s. I am sure they built plenty of dirt tracks at fairgrounds back in the day.

Description: Tim Flock sits in a stock car advertising the Grand National Stock Car Race to be held at the Columbia Speedway on July 9. Fonty Flock and Clem Shiver stand outside the car. The car is parked outside the State Fairgrounds.

Date: 7-8-1955

The grandstand in the background certainly looks like the same one in the OP picture. The stalls for the old Columbia Training Stables meet the rear roof of the car in the distant background.
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Title: Stock car race at New Columbia Speedway.


Description: Car 52 on the track during races at the New Columbia Speedway near Gaston, S.C.

Date: 6-2-1984

That looks like Hwy. 176, Charleston Hwy, in the background.
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Title: Race Horse at Columbia Training Stables


Description: A race horse and his owner at the Columbia Training Stables, a winter training ground for thoroughbreds located at the State Fairgrounds.

Location: Bluff Rd.
Date: 2-27-1960
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Title: Palmetto Trials Horse Race


Description: Spectators watch the jockeys race their horses at the Palmetto Trials at the State Fairgrounds. The race was held at the State Fairgrounds annually in March from 1952 to 1968.

Date: 3-2-1968



Date: 3-10-1962


Description: Mrs. Robert L. Sumwalt, P. Brady, W. J. Beatie, and jockey T. Grogan at the Palmetto Trials horse race at the State Fairgrounds. Beatie's horse, Mill Isle, ridden by Grogan, won the first race of the day.


Apparently the annual horse races were a very big deal each year. The photos are from The State Newspaper's collection at the Richland Library.

Here is the link for my search if you guys want to dig around on your own.

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There was a pretty serious link to horse racing up North.

From the 3-1-1964 edition of the New York Times:

"The 13th annual Palmetto Trials will be run next Saturday at the State Fair Grounds in Columbia, S.C. The trials consist of five races for thoroughbreds that have wintered at the Columbia Training Stables at the Fair Grounds, For laughs, there will be one extra race‐for mules.

Max Hirsch, the trainer of three Kentucky Derby Winners, annually has the most starters in the Palmetto Trials. Most of these horses are owned by the King Ranch and will race later in the year at Aqueduct.

All proceeds from the sales of general admission tickets and parking spaces will go to the Junior League of Columbia, which has received $123,000 from previous sets of Palmetto Trials. The money is used for community work.

Bryan Field, vice president and general manager of the Delaware Park race track, will be the announcer at the races."
Thanks for all your research. House racing at the fairgrounds and then cross the street and watch the Gamecocks. Sounds like a blast. Wish they still did that there.

The South Carolina equine industry has been in decline for the past 50 years, in part due to the broader decline of horse racing. But it’s also because other states have offered incentives for horse breeders and owners to stable horses in their states, often using gambling proceeds.

Owners of equine training centers have pressed lawmakers to pass the bill as a way to help revive their industry without directly investing taxpayer dollars.

The bill would create an appointed commission that would license three online wagering vendors to accept bets on horse races. The vendors would pay the commission a minimum of 10 percent of the projected yearly revenue they make on South Carolinians' wagers.

Legalized gambling is one of the ways to revive the horse racing business in SC, but that thing with the casinos in the 1990s didn't last too long.

I get it, but look at what the Kentucky Derby adds to that state every year. Not any different than the current education lottery if you do it right, but I get the gambling addiction argument, too.

The old Palmetto Trials were a way to get the horses ready for the races up North without the ties to gambling, I guess.
Thanks for all your research. House racing at the fairgrounds and then cross the street and watch the Gamecocks. Sounds like a blast. Wish they still did that there.
Out your way: