Gore knew it was time
Dickie Gore didn’t have to put a for-sale sign out on the family race track. He knew buyers would be interested in Old Dominion Speedway, and this year he was ready to listen.
After 39 years as track promoter, the 59-year-old Gore was set to retire. His father, Al, bought the 22 acres of land near Manassas in 1952 and reopened racing there that year, but at age 84 he was prepared to sign the sale papers. Steve Britt and Charles Graybeal are the new co-owners of ODS.
“They pursued us,” Dickie Gore said as he and his wife, Pat, were traveling to Florida this week. “The time was right because of my dad’s age and because I was ready to quit.
“My wife told me it was time to retire, go play golf, eat shrimp and visit Florida. She’s been retired for about a year and a half, and now it’s my turn.”
Dickie said he, his brother, Gary (who will continue to run Waynesboro’s Eastside Speedway and Lynchburg’s New London Dragway) and their father had little trouble making the decision, but the rest of his family was having a tougher time letting go of the track. Four generations of Gores were involved in the speedway, and several of Al Gore’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remain in their race-day capacities.
“The only difference is I’m going to be gone,” Dickie Gore said. “Everybody else is still going to be there, more or less doing the same thing. And the new folks are going to make a bunch of improvements.”
In the new ownership, Graybeal and Britt are both listed as owner/promoter. Former drag racer and Sears Automotive facilities manager Dennis Richman will be the general manager, with Theresa Smith as manager of marketing and business development and Shelley Howe as assistant manager of marketing and business development.
“There have been at least two or three different groups every year for the past five or six years wanting to buy [ODS],” Dickie Gore said. “We just weren’t ready. As a matter of fact, we’ve even had a couple of better offers.”
Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The new owners take over this month, and they plan to continue the same racing schedule and perhaps add a few new features. One new wrinkle, according to Late Model Stock driver Mike Southard, will be a program in which fans could pay to ride with ODS drivers.
Britt and Graybeal, a pair of Virginia Tech alums, first met in the mid-1990s. Britt is chief executive officer of Chantilly-based Britt Construction, while Graybeal is president of Alantic ComReal Companies. Britt, 44, lives in Clifton and Graybeal, 52, in Oakton.
“I hired Steve as a contractor and we had a great relationship,” Graybeal said. “He’s done most of my work since then.”
According to Graybeal, Britt first contacted Dickie Gore about 1 1/2 years ago. The sides started talking more seriously last summer.
“Our interest is to keep the program there, and to perpetuate it,” Graybeal said. “We want to have a great place for families to come out. Hopefully, we can broaden the fan base to all kinds of folks. Just being a good neighbor is really important to us.”