New ownership looks to make Penton Raceway a dirt track destination in Chambers County

Published 2:57 pm Saturday, March 30, 2024

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Penton Raceway has been a staple of Chambers County since 1981. Now, the new ownership group has made a plethora of upgrades to the track and is looking to make Penton a destination for dirt track racing once again. 

Jamie Godbee and Danny Carswell went in as partners to buy the track from Bill Edge in 2022. Since then, the two along with Amanda Godbee and the rest of the family have worked to make upgrades on the track.

The two hale from Carrolton and looked at buying several tracks in Georgia and the surrounding area. They eventually landed on the track in Penton and have put their all into making it a place drivers and families can feel comfortable going to. 

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“The people here are so kind, and we’ve had such a good experience over the years coming here to race,” Jamie said. 

“We tried to purchase a track in Carrolton, but the rules in Georgia now are so strict you can’t hardly enjoy it. The rules are much better. Mr. Edge, I had raced here in ‘99 and 2000, he just got to where he didn’t have the help to run it anymore.” 

Carswell has been in dirt track racing for around 50 years while the Godbee’s have also been in racing for most of their lives and still race. The Godbee’s and their kids still race currently, though they will not race at Penton to avoid conflict. 

Carswell has mostly worked in construction, while Jamie has raced but ownership and promotion of a track is a new experience. That has not stopped the two from diving head-first into the business. 

The pair has spent approximately $500,000 just on upgrades to the track. Some of the upgrades include a new press box, improvements to the concessions and bathrooms, a digital billboard for local business advertisements, a new scoring tower, a new scoreboard and all-new lighting. 

The digital billboard is one of the bigger improvements for the track. It will allow companies around the area to advertise at the track, and local graduates will be able to be shown on the billboard. The track is one of only a few in the country to have LED advertising on the outside of the track. 

Carswell’s construction company helped with several of the projects, but it took a lot of manpower to get all the work done. All the work done was done with the benefit of the racers and spectators in mind. 

Jamie and Carswell have worked together for several years and have built a tight bond. The pair has always loved the sport and could not imagine opening the business without one another. 

“We’re just good friends and we both love racing,” Godbee said. “We got to talking about purchasing a place, and it just all fell into place.” 

The raceway held its first open practice on Friday, but the full grand opening for the track is set for April 5. Carswell and Godbee are not putting a ton of expectations on the grand opening, but they are excited to finally get everything up and running. 

“We just hope to have a good car count, and we hope to have a good fanbase,” Godbee said. “We hope that people from the community will come and support us. No expectations really, we just want people to come here, have a good time [and] eat good food.” 

Chambers County is growing and there are more things to do in the area than there have been in the past, but there is still a small number of businesses and activities to do for families. 

Penton Raceway hopes to be a part of that solution. The crew of owners and their families hope to see the sport grow in the area, and they hope for the track to give racers who grew up racing at the Penton Cart Track nearby a place to go as they grow into stock car racing. 

“For us, it’s about racing continuing. You’ve got the cart track over here that Mr. Dale Mcmullen runs, they have about 80 kids that race over there every week, and most of those people will move to being a driver in a car. As they get older, they’ll buy a stock car,” Godbee said. 

“I think it’s important for the sport to continue. If we have a cart track here, we can be supportive of the cart track and they can be supportive of [us], and racing continues to go through history long after me and Danny die… It’s not about the money for us. It’s about serving the community and serving racing.” 

The track will serve gourmet-style cheeseburgers, like the ones you can find at a Nascar race, corndogs, crispitos, Coca-Cola products as well as many other concession-style candies and foods. More concessions are planned to be added as the races start. 

Sweet Victory Apparel is one of the larger apparel companies that they will sell at the track. The company is huge within the racing community. Clint Smith Racing is the Director of Operations for the track. 

The business is a total family affair. Jamie’s wife Amanda is the souvenir manager for the track, their two sons are getting into racing and helping with some of the work involved with the track. 

“What’s really special to us is that we have always known each other, but we met again at the race track,” Amanda said. “I had a race car for just one season, so I didn’t race for very long. Racing is kind of in my blood like it’s in Jamie and Danny’s blood… Just carrying on the family tradition and trying to make sure I can be as supportive of my husband as I can.” 

Becoming a business owner is tough, and few have the ability to make a business successful. However, this is a complete passion project for the Godbee family, Carswell and all involved.
“I didn’t play sports in high school, I worked. I worked and I went to the races with my friends,” Godbee said. “Once I was around it, it was just like man I want to do this.”