North Carolina Region – Region 55
Early history 1954-1982
The NC Region actually began as the Sports Car Club of North Carolina, Incorporated May 24, 1954 by Homer Hunley and Thomas Way of Burlington and Mary Hannah of Greensboro. The first hillclimb at Grandfather Mountain was held that year.
In March 1955, this group applied for a Sports Car Club of America Charter. They requested that the entire state of North Carolina be annexed from the Atlanta Region as their territory. In April 1955, a provisional charter was issued and the club became the North Carolina Region SCCA. The Region was assigned all 100 counties of North Carolina. The area was ceded by the Atlanta Region. The Region was formed with 16 members in good standing with SCCA. Dr. Hooper Johnson of Winston-Salem became the first Regional Executive of the North Carolina Region with Charles Strong of Greensboro as Assistant Regional Executive.
The Charlotte area was also interested in forming a region in 1955 and made application five days after the North Carolina Region application was made. The Central Carolinas Region was chartered in 1956 with 35 counties ceded by the North Carolina Region as well as counties of South Carolina.
The North Carolina Region had a hillclimb planned at Grand Father Mountain in 1955; therefore, the Region’s first event was the hillclimb.
The North Carolina Region began racing in 1956 with Hooper Johnson as Regional Executive and Bill Reavis of Greensboro as Assistant Regional Executive. The Region scheduled races in May and October at the Camp MacCall Airfield, just outside of Aberdeen not far from North Carolina Motor Speedway in Charlotte, along with the Grandfather Mountain Hillclimb in June. 1956 was an important year for racing in the southeast; Central Carolina Region held its first race at the Chester, South Carolina airport in October, and the Atlanta Region started racing at the Gainesville, Georgia airport later the same month. Even more important, however, was the fact that some members of the North Carolina Region, headed by Ed Kemm of Greensboro, had located a tract of land, nestled in a bend of the Dan River on the Virginia state line near Milton, North Carolina, on which to build the first major true road racing track in the south.
The most eventful year in the North Carolina Region’s early history was 1956. In some ways it was both a beginning and an end. Sports Car Enterprises, Inc., headed by North Carolina Region Secretary Ed Kemm, hoped to finish construction of Virginia International Raceway in April. The North Carolina Region, headed by Edgar Welch of Winston-Salem and John Reavis of Greensboro as Regional Executive and Assistant Regional Executive, respectively, applied for a sanction for an SCCA National Race as the inaugural event on the weekend of May 3‑5. Bad weather delayed construction and the first race was postponed until August 3‑4, 1957. The North Carolina Region was in no way large or strong enough to organize and run a race of that magnitude, so the event was organized and run by the Washington, D.C. Region, the Race Communications Association, and SCCA workers primarily from the northeast. A second National race was scheduled for October 26‑27. That event was the Washington, D.C. Region’s President’s Cup Race organized by the Washington, D.C. Region and Sports Car Enterprises. Near the end of 1957, Ed Kemm and a group of Danville businessmen chartered the Danville Region, which included counties in southcentral and southwestern Virginia. The Danville Region existed primarily to support Virginia International Raceway and the North Carolina Region’s direct involvement in Virginia International Raceway was lost almost as soon as it began.
With the exception of the annual Grandfather Mountain Hillclimb, there was not much activity of note in the North Carolina Region during 1958 and 1959. Ed Alexander of Greensboro and Ted Davison of Winston-Salem were the Regional Executive and Assistant Regional Executive both years. Meanwhile, to the south, regional races were being held at the airport courses in Walterboro and Chester, South Carolina, and at the new road racing track at Savannah ‑ Effingham. To the north, the Washington, D.C. Region was busy organizing races at the Cumberland, Maryland airport and at their home track at Marlboro, Maryland. In addition, the Washington, D.C. Region organized National races at Virginia International Raceway for Ed Kemm’s Danville Region. Spring races at Virginia International Raceway were held in 1958 and 1959, with an additional Fall race in 1958.
By 1960, the first rush of enthusiasm was spent. Sports Car Enterprises was in trouble and Ed Kemm was out at the Danville Region. Even so, the Washington, D.C. Region organized another Spring National Race at Virginia International Raceway. Changes were taking place in the North Carolina Region also. For the first time, the North Carolina Region essentially relocated from the Triad to the Triangle area when George Parsons, of Franor Motors in Raleigh, became Regional Executive. John Hardin of Greensboro was Assistant Regional Executive but the other officers were from the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area, a number of who were connected to Franor Motors. While the Grandfather Mountain Hillclimb continued, the North Carolina Region was otherwise barely in existence and fading fast.
In 1961, the situation had definitely changed. The Washington, D.C. Region organized the President’s Cup National Race at Virginia International Raceway that spring, in cooperation with the Danville Squadron, Civil Air Patrol. This signaled the emergence of Col. Paul Rhembold as the man in charge at Virginia International Raceway.
The North Carolina Region had virtually ceased to exist. Somehow the Grandfather Mountain Hillclimb got run, but it was the last one for almost 20 years. Luckily, Central Carolina Region was keeping hillclimbing alive and well at Chimney Rock.
A group of racers refused to let the Region die, and when the previous officers could not be found, this group took it upon themselves to reorganize with a lot of help from SCCA and the Washington, D.C. Region. Although there have been a lot of changes over the years, the North Carolina Region as it exists now, can trace a direct line to that reorganization. The officers elected that year were: Joe Sargent, Raleigh, Regional Executive; Ray Stoutenburg, Burlington, Assistant Regional Executive; Watts Hill, Durham, Secretary; Bill Brown, Raleigh, Treasurer; and Ben Warren, Mebane, Contest Board Chairman.
Although they were racers, they realized that the Region would not have support without providing a broad range of activities including non‑speed events and regular meetings to attract and hold members.
SCCA was so confident of their abilities that it revoked the charter of the Danville Region in 1961 for lack of member support and assigned its members and territory to the North Carolina Region. Thus, the North Carolina Region gained control of SCCA racing at Virginia International Raceway.
But control did not mean ability and the Washington, D.C. Region continued to organize the races at Virginia International Raceway while training North Carolina Region officials and workers in racecraft. It was not until the Goblin’s Go in October of 1963 that the North Carolina Region was sound enough to take full responsibility for putting on a race with a lot of help from its friends. The Region that was “Born To Race” finally got on track. The Region promoted races at Virginia International Raceway until October 1974 when the track was closed.
In February 1969, the Golden Crescent Region was formed with 10 counties in and around Greensboro, ceded by North Carolina Region. In February 1975, Golden Crescent Region was disbanded and the counties returned to North Carolina Region.
In 1978, the road course at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Charlotte was built and Central Carolina Region transferred Richmond and Scotland counties back to North Carolina Region. The region continued to sanction races at North Carolina Motor Speedway until 2008.
In July 1982, the Blue Region was formed. North Carolina Region ceded all of its Virginia counties except Halifax and Pittsylvania.