Defunct Southern 500 Truck Stop Chain - Elm City, Mt. Airy, Society Hill, Charlotte

Dave Fulton
5 years ago
9,126 posts

When Bobby Williamson interviewed Steve Summerlin. PR Director for Elm City, NC's County Line Raceway, on Tuesday night's "Racing Through History" broadcast, I was reminded of the old Southern 500 Truck Stop that used to stand beside U.S. Highway 301 in Elm City, just north of Wilson, North Carolina.

When we raced on Saturday night at Wilson in the 1970s, we'd often wind up eating a wee hours breakfast at that now defunct establishment.

The first time I recall seeing the Southern 500 Truck Stop was on Labor Day weekend 1966. I was on a Greyhound bus enroute from Richmond, Virginia to Darlington, SC to see my first Southern 500 stock car race. I was very exciteed to see the big red arrow illuminated in the night with the words "Southern 500" as the bus transporting buddy Frank and me passed.

A little research uncovered the chain was headquartered in Darlington and began in 1958.

There were at least 4 locations.

* Society Hill, SC - just outside of Darlington

* Elm City, NC - just north of Wilson

* Mt. Airy, NC

* Charlotte, NC - I-85 @ Freedom Dr.

The chain is now extinct and the 3 buildings that remain look a little long in the tooth.

Thankfully, the original truck stops closed before the Southern 500 race was moved away from Labor Day weekend and before sponsor names were attached. Somehow the Mountain Dew Southern 500 Truck Stop just doesn't sound right.

Today's young race fans attending the big March 21st and March 22nd Friday and Saturday night races at County Line Raceway sure will be missing a treat, though. I can still taste and smell the fried eggs, sizzling bacon, link and pattycake sausage, cheese & bacon grits, hashed brown potatoes and fried cracklings served with piping hot black coffee and cold V-8 juice after a Saturday night of racing at Wilson County Speedway.

Here's 4 photos I've found online of Southern 500 Truck Stop locations. The first three are posted at Flickr by Roadside Robbie and the final shot at Dispatch Press Images.

Above - Former Southern 500 Truck Stop location in Society Hill, SC, outside of Darlington.

Above - Former Southern 500 Truck Stop location in Elm City, NC on U.S. 301 north of Wilson

Above - Former Southern 500 Truck Stop location at Mt. Airy, NC

"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"

updated by @dave-fulton: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM
Bobby Williamson
5 years ago
907 posts

Good stuff, Dave!

Tim Leeming
5 years ago
3,119 posts

Those are some great memories. I'm sure I've stopped at the one in Charlotte many years ago. Time was that if a place had anything that associated it with racing, I was stopping in. Nice memories of a bygone era.

Randy Myers3
5 years ago
23 posts

I remember them well. Think about it every time I pass the one in Mt. Airy.

Randy Myers