Former Atomic co-owner dies at 79
Bill Ogle Sr., a longtime east Tennessee dirt racer and former co-owner of Atomic Speedway west of Knoxville, died Tuesday morning after an 18-month battle with thyroid cancer. He was 79 and his death was confirmed by his brother, Jack Ogle.
Along with a successful racing career that included a 1978 Florida Speedweeks victory at Volusia County Speedway, Ogle promoted races in east Tennessee, most notably at Atomic after purchasing the track with Jack and another brother Jim from founder Bob Martin in 1977.
The Ogle family operated Atomic for 17 seasons before selling it to Stewart Randolph in 1994; the Ogle brothers also owned and operated Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville from 1979-’89.
Atomic, which closed after the 2006 season, sat just north of I-40 at the Loudon-Roane County line and hosted many major races under Ogle family promotions, including eight National Dirt Racing Association events. It was named one of the top 12 dirt tracks in the country by USA Today.
“If you didn’t get there early, you didn’t get a seat,” Jack Ogle, 81, recalled. “It was like for most people the game of golf or fishing, it was that racetrack and racing for us. It was a family affair, our whole family. Our mother and father, mom worked as a cashier and dad worked cutting up the onions and the lettuce. I had sisters working in scoring and working in concessions. It was a family affair and we all enjoyed it.”
While operating Atomic, Bill Ogle Sr. worked as a residential home builder. After retiring he bought and sold antique collectible cars from the 1930s-‘50s.
Besides three brothers and five sisters, among survivors is Ogle’s son, Billy Ogle Jr., one of east Tennessee’s winningest Late Model drivers who began his stock car career competing for his father at age 14.
Arrangements at Berry Highland Memorial in Knoxville are incomplete.