SOUTH BOSTON, VA….Three individuals who played key roles in the history of South Boston Speedway and NASCAR racing were inducted into the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame here Saturday night.
Inducted into the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame were the late E.B. “Buck” Wilkins and the late Dave Blount, the founders and builders of South Boston Speedway, and the late Eddie Crouse, South Boston Speedway’s first NASCAR track champion and a two-time NASCAR National Modified Champion.
The trio was inducted into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony held as part of the annual South Boston Speedway Awards Ceremony, which was held at The Prizery in downtown South Boston.
Mrs. Jenny Wilkins, wife of the late Buck Wilkins, and Tommy Blount and Mrs. Reya Roller, the son and daughter of the late Dave Blount, accepted the posthumous honors for the deceased recipients. Carolyn Crouse, wife of the late Eddie Crouse, accepted the posthumous honor for the late champion driver.
The induction of Wilkins, Blount and Crouse brings to 10 the number of individuals to have been inducted into the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame. Wilkins and Blount are the first residents of South Boston, Va. to be inducted into the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Saturday night’s Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame inductions were the first to be held in the last three years. Prior inductees into the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame include the late Wendell Scott of Danville, Va., the late Ray Hendrick of Richmond, Va., the late H. Clay Earles of Martinsville, Va. and the late Paul Sawyer of Richmond, Va., all of who were inducted in 2003.
Longtime former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner Junie Donlavey of Richmond, Va. and Glen and Leonard Wood of Stuart, Va. was inducted into the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Wilkins and Blount, along with former partner Louis Spencer, constructed and opened South Boston Speedway in August 1957. The track was opened just over 50 years ago as a quarter-mile dirt oval on the site of what was then known as the McRae Farm. While the track has undergone various transformations through the years, it has remained on its original site.
Through the years, Wilkins and Blount worked hard to raise the popularity of the sport of stock car racing in South Boston and Halifax County and throughout the state, bringing the top competitors and cars in the sport to South Boston Speedway, a facility that not only lended itself to good quality racing, but was also a facility that promoted a family-friendly atmosphere with good amenities and good food.
In 1979 Blount was named as the “Promoter Of The Year.” H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, the President of Charlotte Motor Speedway (now Lowes’s Motor Speedway), late Martinsville Speedway President H. Clay Earles, NASCAR Competition Director Bill Gazaway and NASCAR Field Director Lance Childress came to South Boston Speedway to present the honor to Blount in front of South Boston Speedway’s many fans.
Today, thanks to the foundation laid by Wilkins and Blount, South Boston Speedway is recognized as one of the premier short tracks operating under the NASCAR banner. Many of NASCAR racing’s legendary drivers including Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, David Pearson, Joe Weatherly, Wendell Scott, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt have competed at South Boston Speedway during their careers.
The track is also noted as the track where a number of top NASCAR stars including former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, Jeff Burton, Elliott Sadler, Stacy Compton cut their racing teeth.
Crouse was one of the key racing personalities at South Boston Speedway in the track’s early years and became one of the noted legends of NASCAR racing.
The cigar-chewing resident of Glen Allen, Va. drove the “Flying 11” Chevrolet coupe co-owned by Jack Tant and Clayton Mitchell to numerous wins at South Boston Speedway.
Crouse was South Boston Speedway’s first NASCAR Modified champion, winning the title in 1960, the year that South Boston Speedway joined NASCAR. He finished second to Johnny Roberts of Baltimore, Md. in the chase for the 1961 NASCAR National Modified Championship and came back to win the NASCAR National Modified Championship in 1962 and 1963.
A crowd-favorite for his pedal-to-the-metal driving style, Crouse, was a popular figure at racetracks across the state of Virginia, particularly at South Boston Speedway and at the former Strawberry Hill track in Richmond, Va. where Richmond International Raceway now stands.
Crouse passed away in 2004 at the age of 78.