Orangeburg resident Candice Roberson has been around drag racing for most of her life.

“I grew up at Orangeburg dragstrip on Thursday nights,” Roberson said.

Her parents have always been dragstrip racing enthusiasts.

“I have only been in a racecar I think twice in my life, so actually racing is not for me, but I enjoy fast cars. I like fast cars. I like the racing aspect,” she said.

When Roberson learned that the South Carolina Motorplex and South Carolina Mudplex at 194 Dragstrip Road in Neeses was for sale, she jumped at the opportunity to purchase it.

Roberson is now the sole owner and chief executive officer of the racing venue. She purchased the property in December 2022.

“I want to expand it and bring back that old Orangeburg dragstrip feel,” the 37-year old Roberson said. “There is something to do here. Everybody is looking for the bowling alley, the skating rink, the movie theater.

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“We have an entertainment venue right here. This is a sports entertainment motorsports facility.”

The 150-acre facility was previously owned by husband and wife Jeff and Chrissy Biegun. The couple purchased the racetrack in November 2017 for just under $1 million.

Roberson said her purchase of the property has been a “multi-million dollar investment.”

The racetrack currently has four full-time employees and between 12 and 15 part-time staff members for event weekends. Roberson has a business partner, J.P. Williams. Her sister and parents also help out at the racetrack.

“It is a family affair,” Roberson said.

Roberson said the facility has constantly been alive with activity and her goal has been to continue and to expand on the facility’s vitality.

“We have introduced some different types of activities and the mud bogs,” Roberson said. “This year has been like an establishment year. Next year we are looking to possibly add concerts to the mix because we know there are some weekends that there are other communities doing things and other race tracks doing stuff.”

“We want to see how we can utilize the property as much as possible,” Roberson said.

Just recently, the facility hosted the International Hot Rod Association Division 9 Team Finals, with about 250 drivers seeking a chance to go to the IHRA World Finals.

“It is the first time we have ever hosted a division team finals in Orangeburg,” Roberson said. “It has normally been hosted in Darlington.”

“That is a big deal for us,” Roberson continued. “We are real excited.”

The facility is open every Friday and Saturday from the end of February through the first weekend in December.

“We are booked,” Roberson said, noting the events can draw more than 2,000 spectators with racers coming from as far away as Michigan, Florida and Alabama.

“We have a lot of tourists that come in and a lot of racers and fans that travel to see these racers,” she said.

Every Friday night, the facility has a “test and tune” event where drivers come and test their cars as well as a “gambler’s race” held at least once a month on a Friday night.

Races are typically held each Saturday.

Roberson says she wants to host more activities and possibly next year host a mud and drag racing event at the same time.

“There are some people who look for those types of facilities so we are very unique for our facility,” Roberson said. “There is a bunch I want to do.”

Prior to Roberson’s purchase of the racetrack, the Bieguns upgraded the facility in an effort to make it safe, usable and appealing.

The track’s race tower was refurbished, sound system upgraded and parking area expanded.

New fencing and security were also added to the property. The concessions area was rebuilt and the bathrooms were redone. New lighting was also put in place.

Biegun also purchased land adjacent to the racetrack for a dirt track for motorcycles and a mud bog pit.

Roberson said the dragstrip is about eight-tenths of a mile and the mud bog pit is about 200 yards wide and about 30 feet deep.

“You can back your truck up and watch the mud trucks race in the pit itself,” Roberson said.

Racer Justin Boyere of Moncks Corner says he enjoys coming to the Neeses Motorplex.

“This is home,” Boyere said. “We have a good time here. It is always fun.”

Boyere said the “good people” make the track stand out.

“This is very much top-notch,” Boyere said. He’s visited race tracks throughout the country.

Though new to being a small business owner, Roberson said it is not far from what she has done in the past as an employee of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association.

At the chamber, she helped organize the Festival of Roses and at DORA she helped spearhead the development of the Downtown Market Pavilion.

Roberson has also been involved in a number of community boards in the past, such as the Orangeburg Part-Time Players, the Orangeburg YMCA and the Orangeburg County Fair Association.

Roberson compares running DORA for the last six years to running a business.

“DORA, if you look at it, you have to keep your members happy, the community happy and to make sure your checks and balances are all there,” Roberson said. “It is the same thing with a business. I finally get to live out my dream and own my own business.”

“I was blessed to build DORA and it was time for me to pass the torch and start building my dream,” Roberson said.

It is a dream she also wants to share with her three daughters.

She said a few years ago she took her daughters to the dragstrip and “they fell in love with it as much as we have.”

Two of her teenage girls already have race cars and have been racing for the past three years.

Now her 8-year-old daughter is hoping “Santa Claus is going to bring her a racecar this year,” Roberson said.

A track with a past

The property, formerly called the Orangeburg Dragstrip, opened in 1961.

At that time, there was no timing equipment. Everything was started by a man getting out in front of the cars and dropping his hands.

There was no guardrail to protect spectators from the cars back then. The original track featured racing over a quarter-mile, with another quarter-mile of stopping distance.

In 1972, brothers Zane, Tommy and Jimmy DeWitt purchased the track from original owners T.J. Ashe, Ezel Hutto and Nick Davis.

The DeWitt brothers installed guard rails and brought in timing equipment that was built in Leesville.

During this time, racing took off, with cars getting faster and running the quarter-mile in the high 10-second range.

The track saw the likes of the DeWitts, Houston Platt, Zeigler Chevrolet, the Brickles at Orangeburg Auto, Buddy Boozer, Sonny Tindal and the Smiths of North.

Don Garrick purchased Orangeburg Drag Strip from the DeWitt brothers in 1982. Garrick continued with the Thursday night racing, along with Sunday bracket racing. He also started running motorcycle events.

Garrick sold the track to Charles and Johnny Dowey. The Doweys tore up the old asphalt and converted the track to all concrete for better traction.

In 2001, Jimmy and Zane DeWitt re-purchased the track and continued to feature similar races for the next five years.

In 2006, Buddy Boozer purchased the track with the intention of refurbishing it.

With the help of the Doweys and their heavy equipment, the track was completely torn up, as well as the buildings on the site.

The only exception was the tower, which the Doweys obtained from a prison they demolished in Columbia.

A new racing surface, concrete guard rails and a shut-down area were put in place at the time.

New timing equipment, scoreboards, a cafe and restrooms were also added.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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