NASCAR CUP TRACKS I - N
bricks for race surface
getting ready for the race - 1940
the rear engineroadster era - this pic from 1962
Indy 500 Start
NASCAR Start 2016
Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Speedway IN
a LOT of history about Indy - probably the oldest race track in the nation; and known world wide. The track is a 2 1/2 mile paved oval. Beginning in 1909; there was 3.2 million bricks were brought in to create the racing surface; thus the age old name, "the brick yard". It is the second purpose-built, banked oval racing circuit in the world. The first one in the U.S. and the first to be a 'speedway'. It has a permanent seating capacity of over 250,000 and when you include the infield area it can hold over 400,000 spectators. The largest sports venue in the world. 1911 saw 80,000 spectators came to see the first ever Indy 500. It was won by Ray Harroun. All the other cars had a riding mechanic to help 'spot' for the driver. Harroun did away with the extra person and installed a mirror. The first ever rear-view mirror in any automobile. Louis Meye became the first three time winner in the Indy 500 in 1936. After his win in 1933 he started the tradition of drinking a bottle of milk in victory lane. In 1940 Wilbur Shaw became the second three time winner. The track saw no activity and the races were canceled from 1942-1945 due to World War II. The track fell into a state of disrepair. Like in today's times; many locals believed that the track should be demolished and turned into a housing development. Wilbur Shaw returned from the war to do a 500 mile tire test for Firestone, and found out the track was for sale. Shaw contacted Terre Haute businessman Tony Hulman who purchased the speedway in late 1945. Major renovations and repairs were made at a quick pace to the frail speedway, in time for the 1946 race. Since then the speedway has continued to grow. Stands have been built and remodeled many times over, suites and museums were added, and many other additions helped bring back Indy's reputation as a great track. In the 1950s, cars were topping out at 150 mph, helping to draw more and more fans. The low-slung, sleek cars were known as roadsters. In October 1961, the final remaining brick sections of the track were paved over with asphalt, with the exception of a distinct three-foot-wide line of bricks at the start-finish line. The "Brickyard" thus became known for its "Yard of Bricks". AJ Foyt, who had won his first 500 in 1961, won the 1964 Indianapolis 500, which was the last ever win for a front-engine car. Since Jim Clark's win driving the rear-engine Lotus 38 in 1965, every winner has driven a rear-engine car. Foyt would go on to become the third three time winner in 1967. It took an additional ten years but Foyt would become the races first ever four time winner in 1977. Also in 1977 Janet Guthrie would become the first woman to ever compete in the Indy 500. She competed in the race on three occasions before moving to race in the NASCAR Series. She had a best finish of ninth in the 1978 500. School teacher turned race driver Tom Snave became the first driver to have a qualifying lap over 200 mph in 1977. As we entered the 1980's and year thereafter the track saw the search for speed ever increasing. Sneva broke the 210 mph mark in 1984 as his one lap average of 210.689 sat a new one lap average. He also posted the four lap average at 210.029. Sneva finished second in the race in 1977, 1978, and 1980. Finally he broke through for the 500 victory in 1983 by out-dueling Roger Penske driver Al Unser Jr. It was sweet revenge for Sneva who had been fired by Penske at the end of the previous season; even though he had won back to back Indy Championships. Speeds increased over the years to where currently (2018) the one lap qualifying record is an astounding 237.498 while the four lap mark stands at 236.986. The fastest race lap is 236.103. All the records were set in 1996. With speed on the rise at a rapid pace; Indy car officials stepped in to decrease downforce and increase drag to slow the cars down. The fastest race was held in 2013, and won by Tony Kanaan ate 187 mph. 2009 marked the 100th Anniversary for the Indy 500. The race was won by Helio Castronevez. Danica Patrick finished led laps and finished third in the race; the best finish to date for a woman. NASCAR raced at the speedway for the first time in 1994. Many 'purist' protested the heavy stock cars racing at the track; stating there should be only Indy car races there. However, on race day 350,000 people showed up to watch "The Brickyard 400", won by Jeff Gordon. He edged Brett Bodine by 1/2 second. NASCAR still races at this venue as of 2018. Jeff Gordon has accumulated the most checkered flags (5); while team mate Jimmie Johnson has four. Gordon is the first five time winner in the tracks history. To date the NASCAR Cup Series races here yearly.
Islip Speedway - Islip NY
The track was a 2/10 mile paved track that opened in 1947 and closed in 1984. Islip is well known for being the first track to host a demolition derby. In 1962 a figure 8 tracks was added, and was a popular event all throughout the tracks history. In 1964 NASCAR made it's first trip to the tight little race track. As stated it was a 2/10 mile track on which they raced 300 laps. All those laps and it only added up to 60 miles. The race was won by Billy Wade. It would be his third series win in a row, He would also win the next race becoming the first drivers to win four Cup events in a row. The track held one race per year through 1971. Bobby Allison would win twice while Richard Petty would also win twice including the final in 1971.
Jacksonville Speedway - Jacksonville NC
Like most tracks of it;s day; this was a 1/2 mile dirt oval. It held NASCAR Cup races sporadically over an eight year span. In 1957 it hosted both a Cup event and a NASCAR Convertible race. Buck Baker won the first Cup race as he scampered away from Jim Paschal to win by three laps. The Convertible race that season saw Joe Weatherly duel the full 200 laps with Glenn Wood. Weather was able to pull out the win. Then there was a eight year hiatus until 1964 when NASCAR returned to the track to run it's final race. It was also the final race of the NASCAR season. A grueling 62 race schedule. In the race New Jarrett would wrest the lead away from David Pearson and lead the final 97 laps to get the win by a lap over Richard Petty.
JefCo Speedway - Jefferson GA
JefCo was a 1/2 mile paved track which opened in 1967. It had originally opened as a drag strip (that run in front of the spectator grandstands) in 1964. NASCAR held the first of it's two races at the track in 1968. It was the final race of the 1968 season and is pictured on the left. Bobby Issac started second and led 144 laps before he crashed out with nine laps to go. Cale Yarborough wenty on to get the win; beating Richard Petty by half a lap. In 1969 NASCAR returned to JefCo for it's final race (right picture). This time Isaac would get the win that eluded him the year before when he beat David Pearson to the checkers. I have personal knowledge of this great little track since I worked there several years. The track was renamed Georgia International Speedway and it ran only special events. Under new management, the track changed it's name to Peach State Speedway and went to weekly racing. The track featured seven divisions of racing including truck; Late Models and Super Late Models. The three major divisions easily averaged over 15 vehicles per class; and usually had around 100 race vehicle per race. It was a high banked fast track with close racing. Some major names raced the weekly races. Of course the track annually hosted the World Crown 300. It was part of the Big Three Super Late Model events along with the All American 400 in Nashville, and Snow Ball Derby in Pensacola FL. I worked during this time for several years as 'stop-n-go' and then about four years as flagman. It was the best seat in the house and was the Speedway's heyday. In 2008, Jim and Tony Gresham purchased Peach State Speedway and made over 2 million dollars worth of improvements. However racing took a downturn and the track never saw much success. It's a shame because it was a great race facility. But the race car counts never materialized. For a time much of the tracks revenue came from Cup Series teams coming to have practice sessions. But NASCAR implemented a rule against outside testing, so even that revenue dried up and was the death blow for the track. At the end of the 2014 season, Mr. Gresham expressed his desire to retire and in the process divest himself of several businesses including Gresham Motorsports Park. It has virtually set vacant ever since. The track (then going by the name Georgia International Speedway) was used in filming some parts of the 1982 movie "Six Pack"; starring Kenny Rogers. Some local Jefferson teens were used as extras in the film.
Kansas Speedway - Kansas City KS
This is a 1 1/2 mile tri-oval track finished in 2001. The building of the speedway has had a significant impact on the nearby area, even before construction was finished. New commercial developments sprung up around the speedway, including a movie theater complex, an outdoor retail mall, and hotels. When the track opened it only held one Cup race per year. The first race held here saw a Jeff Gordon get the win. He repeated the feat the following year. Construction of a Hotel/Casino started in 2011 and was finished in 2012. Also in 2011, lights were added and NASCAR gave the track a second race date. Jeff Gordon would become the tracks first three time winner; getting his third win in 2014. The following season team mate Jimmie Johnson would join Gordon as a three time winner. The spring race of 2018 saw Kevin Harvick also join the three time winner group. As of 2018 it hosts two Cup races per season.
Kitsap County Airport - Bremerton WA
This was an airport converted into a race course for this event in 1957. It was a 9/10 mile track where races ran up the road course front straight; and made a hard U-turn and came down the pit lane as the back straight. Organizers expected spectators to see 30-40 of the West’s top drivers. Similar races held previously in the area drew 15,000+ onlookers. Kitsap race organizers had high hopes. They announced about 3,000 reserved seats would be available for $3 each while general admission was priced at $2 California racers Eddie Pagan and Lloyd Dane, ranked among the Top 5 nationally, were scheduled to compete. Race organizers publicly worried about traffic problems. The Civil Air Patrol arranged to have buses shuttle spectators to avoid traffic tie-ups. Despite all the preparation, and expectations, the race was a flop. Only 14 drivers and about 2,500 spectators showed up. A young Parnelli Jones would claim his first Cup win; leading only the final six laps after Danny Graves led the first 74 laps and then blew a motor.
Kentucky Speedway - Sparta KY
The track broke ground in July 1998; and held it's first racing action in 2000. The track is a 1 1/2 mile tri-oval that first hosted races for the Indy Car series; ARCA; NASCAR Xfinity and Truck series races before the Cup Series first ran there in 2011. The inaugural Quaker State 400 was held on July 9, 2011 and was won by Kyle Busch; the race was overshadowed by numerous logistical problems. A massive traffic jam on I-71 resulted in as many as 20,000 people being unable to get to the race. Denny Hamlin almost missed the drivers meeting. Many fans still in route by the halfway point of the race were asked to turn back in order to make it easier on those leaving the race. The speedway bought extra property and worked with state and local officials to improve ingress and egress before the next race. 2012 was smoothly and it saw Brad Keselowski win the race. He also won in 2014 and 2016. Kyle Busch would get his second win in 2015; while Martin Truex won back to back events in 2017 and 2018. Races are still being held there at the current time.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway - Las Vegas NV
This track is a 1 1/2 mile tri-oval built in 1996. The NASCAR Cup Series made it's initial visit to the track in 1998. This was after the track had hosted events for Indy Car; Southwest series; along with NASCAR K&N; Xfinity and Truck races. Mark Martin would claim the checkered flag; the first of his seven wins in 1998. Martin's team mate Jeff Burton would win in both 1999 and 2000; and another team mate of Martin's (Matt Kenseth) would grab the checkers in 2003 and 2004. Jimmie Johnson out dueled team mate Kyle Busch to win in 2005; while it appeared that Kenseth looked to get a third win in 2006; but Jimmie Johnson passed him coming off turn #4 on the final lap to steal the victory and get his second win. Following the race the track was reconfigured. The banking in the corners were changed from 12 degrees to 20 degrees and entailed "progressive banking". Johnson returned the next year and even with track changes, he was able to get a third win in a row; and add a fourth win in 2010. Starting in 2018, a second race weekend will take place at the track, taking the race from New Hampshire previouslyheld in the Fall.
Lakewood Speedway - Atlanta GA
In 1916, Atlanta officials chose the Lakewood Fairgrounds as the site for agricultural fairs. They built a one-mile (1.6 km) horse racing track around a lake at the fairgrounds. The first events were held at the track on July 4, 1917. The feature events were a horse race and motorcycle race, before 23,000 spectators. A first automobile race was held at the track later that year and the American Automobile Association/USAC (currently Indy Car series) raced there every July 4th. By 1938, the track was hosting races with Indy Cars, horses, midgets, modifieds, motorcycles, and boats (in the infield lake). The track closed in 1941, like all United States racetracks, because the U.S. government banned all automobile racing to conserve materials during World War II. Racing resumed after the war; Lakewood became the premier track on the NASCAR Circuit which hosted it's first race at the track in 1951. Tim Flock won the first race followed out his brother Bob Flock. Donald Thomas; brother of Herb Thomas would get his only Cup win in 1952. Herb Thomas would win twice at the track; 1953 and 1954. In 1958, Bill Morton flipped his car and was pinned unconscious inside. Driver Fred Harb blocked the track with his own car to protect Morton from oncoming traffic. Harb was later given the John Naughton Sportsmanship Award for this heroic act. In 1959 after getting beaten in the Daytona 500 in a photo finish the previous month; Johnny Beauchamp would get his first career win. while in the final race held here would see Richard Petty get the checkered flag first; but his Father Lee would protest the scoring; ask for a lap recount and be declared the winner. Richard would get his first win the following year. The track also hosted two Convertible series races . Joe Weatherly would win in 1956, while Fireball Roberts would win in 1958. Atlanta Motor Speedway opened 20 miles south of Atlanta in 1960. The new 1.5-mile took away the NASCAR dates and began draining on Lakewood's appeal. The track fell into disrepair in the late 1970s and it officially closed on September 3, 1979. For those familiar with the Atlanta area, this is where Lakewood amphitheater is now located. Scenes from the 1977 Burt Reynolds' film, "Smokey and the Bandit" were staged at Lakewood. The pic on the left shows the grandstands; while the picture on the right is not something you see every day. This is from the 1958 event. You can see he has rolled his car; and has on his stylish short pants, and no shirt,.. but he has on his helmet. Of the eleven Cup races ran at Lakewood, there was nine different winners.
Langhorne Speedway - Langhorne PA
This was a one mile dirt track that held it's first race on June 12, 1926. The facility held races up to 100 miles in length all the way up to the commencement of World War II. After the war the track was reopened and in 1949 the speedway hosted the fourth race of NASCAR's initial season. The 200 miler was won by Curtis Turner. 45 drivers started the race including three women. Sara Christian finished sixth. Curtis would return in 1950 to win again. The track hosted 17 Cup races over a nine year period. Race lengths varied from as few as 150 miles to a high of 300 miles. The final race was in 1957 and was won by Gwyn Staley. It would be the final career win for him. The track was changed to a D shaped oval in 1965. The owners announced the sale of the property to mall developers in 1967, but the speedway held on through five more seasons. The final race held at Langhorne occurred on October 17, 1971.
Langley Speedway - Hampton VA
The track was a 4/10 mile dirt track that hosted races 250 laps in length (100 miles). Ned Jarrett won the first NASCAR race held there in May 1964 and would repeat in 1965. The track seemed to have a reputation for having repeat winners. After Jarrett won the first two events; Richard Petty would win the next two. The track was paved between the 1967 race and the 1968 race. After that David Pearson would win three in a row. 1970 would be the final year that the Cup Series raced at Langley. Bobby Issac won in May; and when NASCAR returned in November it would be the final race of the Cup season. Bobby Allison would beat Benny Parsons by about 10 car lengths. Langley Speedway is still open as of 2018 and runs a weekly race program. The track hosts 11 divisions which alternate running during their weekly program. The track is located in front of NASA's Langley Research Center on Commander Sheppherd Boulevard.
Lakeview Speedway - Mobile AL
This was a 3/4 mile dirt track in Mobile AL. They only hosted two NASCAR races; both coming in 1951. In April Tim Flock would lead 148 of 150 laps and beat his brother Fonty Flock by 1/2 lap. NASCAR closed out the 1951 season here at Lakeview. Frank Mundy would wheel his Studebaker to win the pole and go on to lead all 150 laps to claim the win.
Lincoln Speedway - New Oxford PA
This track hosted NASCAR races from 1955-1958 and again in 1964 and 1965. The race covered 200 laps around a 1/2 mile dirt track. Junior Johnson would claim the first NASCAR win at this track by two laps. Buck Baker would win in 1956 and 1957 to become the only driver who won here more than once. David Pearson claimed a win there in 1964 while Dick Hutcherson would win the final Cup race held at the track. The facility is still open and host great weekly racing.
Linden Airport - Linden NJ
Construction of Linden Airport was started in the spring of 1942 after the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941 drawing the United States into World War II. It was completed by October 1942. During World War II General Motors automobile factory across the street from the airport called Linden Assembly, produced military aircraft. The factory would manufacture the Wildcat and Avenger aircraft for the U.S. Navy and it's allies. The Wildcat was manufactured in Linden, NJ and towed across the street to the Linden
Airport for test flying and delivery. This track hosted just one Cup race. It was a two mile track laid out on the runways of Linden Airport (see photo at right). It was held in 1954 and was the first road course for NASCAR to race on. The race was won by Al Keller wheeling a Jaguar. This would be the first time a foreign made car had won a Cup race; and it would be 2008 before a foreign car won again. Kyle Busch drove a Toyota to the win at Atlanta. This would be Keller's second and final Cup win. He had won previously in 1954 at Savannah.
Louisiana Fairgrounds - Shreveport LA
This was a 1/2 mile track that hosted just one Cup race. It came in 1953. Lee Petty would out run Dick Rathman and Herb Thomas to get this win. This win would come in Petty's 100 Cup start. This is the only Cup race ever held in the state of Louisiana as of 2018. This pic is just for reference as you can tell the car is a Superbird which was raced in NASCAR in 1970.
Marchbanks Speedway - Hanford CA
This track began as a 1/2 mile dirt track, and NASCAR run it's first Cup race there in 1951. West coast driver Danny Weinberg would get his only win in the event. The track was later paved and turned into a 1.4 mile triangle shaped track (much like Pocono) NASCAR West Coast Champion took the win when NASCAR returned in 1960. The next year would be the last year a Cup race was held here. Fireball Roberts would lead all 178 laps to get the win.
Martinsville Speedway - Martinsville VA
Martinsville Speedway has a history as long as NASCAR. The track hosted the the sixth race of NASCAR's inaugrial season. As of 2018 it is the ONLY track still used by the Cup series from NASCAR's first season. Red Byron beat second place finisher Lee Petty by three laps in the first race. When it opened Martinsville was a 1/2 mile dirt track and races were 200 laps in length. To this day neither the tracks shape or size has changed. It is still like it was in 1949. It was paved in 1955; and Speedy Thompson would be the first to win on the new surface. 1956 saw the race length changed to it's current 500 lap length. Buck Baker would win by 1/2 lap over team mate Speedy Thompson. 1976 saw the concrete curbing added; and in a major upgrade, lights were installed in 2017 so it could hold races at night. In the pictures above you can see the width of the track is the same; however the pit wall has been moved out for more room on pit road. Also you can see how pit road now wraps all the way around the turns. Martinsville is a special place for drivers to win. In 1964 the track started the tradition of giving out a grandfather clock to the race winners. It is a nod to Martinsville famous furniture industry. As of 2009, the clocks presented as trophies were valued at around $10,000. Richard Petty currently holds the record for most wins at the track (15).
Memphis-Arkansas Speedway - LeHI AR
This track was a high banked 1 1/2 mile dirt track. the track opened on October 7, 1954, it soon ran out of money. During the time it was open five NASCAR Cup events were held from 1954-1957. The first race saw 52 drivers start the event. Lee Petty led the first 150 laps; but would break an axel giving the lead to Buck Baker who led the final 17 laps to get the win. 1955 the track had two races; won by Fonty Flock and Speedy Thompson. 1956's race was a tragic event. Cling McHugh was trying to qualify for the race. He was killed on the 3rd turn after his car hurtled the embankment and landed upside down in a small lake next to the track. Thomas "Cotton" Priddy,was the second death. His crash came on the first turn when the car became airborne. Priddy's seat belt broke and he was thrown out. With the dust of the dirt track he was run over by several driver and died 14 minutes after being admitted to the hospital. Priddy and his wife were traveling with the McHughs and staying at the same hotel. Priddy, noted that McHugh had room #13 before his death and said, "I'm sure glad I didn't have that room number." The track also hosted one Convertible series race in 1956; won by Curtis Turner. 1957 would be the final race held here. A crowd of 9,500 spectators came out to witness the event, but by the half-way point of the race, more than half of the crowd left the premises as the blinding dust raised by the cars made viewing impossible and breathing most uncomfortable. Two caution flags flew for a total of 56 MINUTES for no other reason than to wet the track in an effort to keep the dust down. Marvin battled the dust and the other competitors to get the win. After this the owners intended to pave the track but could not afford the $100,000 price tag, and the dirt surface proved to be unmanageable. As a result, the track was closed permanently in 1957 when it was sold to a local farmer; who used the abandoned race track for catfish, rice, and soybeans for a number of years. Reports are that as of 2015 you can still see the track.
Michigan State Fairgrounds - Detroit MI
This was a one mile oval dirt race track built in 1899. This land was used to provide a permanent venue for the Michigan State Fair. By 1908, the racetrack, at the east end of the fairground, had a 5,000 seat capacity grandstand. In addition to auto racing, the track also hosted harness racing. 1951 saw NASCAR made the first of two visits to the fairgrounds. Tommy Thompson would beat Joe Eubanks by 1/2 a lap to get the win. 1952 saw the second race on the track. The picture above is from that race. This picture is from early in the race. Tim Flock (91) battles for the lead why his brother Fonty Flock follows (14). Fonty went out on lap 10 with a broken tie rod. Tim Flock would lead 162 of the 250 laps to get the win. The grandstand was declared unsafe in 1971 and demolished in 2001.
Michigan International Speedway - Brooklyn MI
This a twomile moderately-banked D-shaped speedway. Groundbreaking took place on September 28, 1967, and opened in 1968 with the running of a 250 mile USAC race. NASCAR would make their first appearance at the speedway in 1969. Race length when the track opened was 250 laps (500 miles). Cale Yarborough got the first win when he edged David Pearson by five seconds. A rarely know fact is that Michigan was slated to have a 600 mile race. The fall race of 1969 was set to run the Yankee 600; but rain prevented the race from going the distance. David Pearson got the win when it was called at 165 laps. In 1972, Roger Penske purchased the speedway for an estimated $2 million. The track still hosts two NASCAR events as of 2018. David Pearson holds the record with nine wins at the track.
Middle Georgia Raceway - Macon GA
The track opened in 1966 at a cost of $500,000. The track feastured a paved surface 1/2 mile in length and hosted Cup races from 1966-1971. NASCAR's first race here came that same year with the "Speedy Morelock 200" in honor of the man that oversaw and influenced and building of the trrack. The race was 200 laps and won by Richard Petty. The next year, federal agents discovered a moonshine distillery in an underground bunker at turn three. The race extended to 300 laps in 1967; and Richard Petty again came out on top. The 1968 race almost didn't happen. The track owner went on trial for "owning an apparatus for the harvesting of illegal whiskey". He was acquitted of the charges. 1968 saw the race lengthened again; this time to 500 laps; the distance it would remain while the Cup Series raced there. Bobby Allison would win over Richard Petty. 1969 saw Richard Petty back in victory lane in the Spring race while Bobby Issac won in the Fall event. Allison and Petty each added a win the following season while Allison would claim the final checkered hankie for the Cup series here in the 1971 race. In 1970, the second annual Atlanta International Pop Festival was held in a soybean field adjacent to the track. Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers Band performed in front of 300,000 concertgoers; the town had a population of about 2,000. Seven years later, it was the location for filming of race scenes of the Richard Pryor flick Greased Lightning about Wendell Scott. In 2011, Dodge contacted the current owner and asked to use the track for an advertisement. After eleven days of filming for the Dodge Durango, filming wrapped up and the commercial was eventually aired. Dodge "aged" the walls and even bought a local car for $2,000 and crashed it to add realism to the scenes. In the commercial, a sign stated that it was the Brixton Motor Speedway.
Morristown Speedway - Morristown NJ
This was a 1/2 mile dirt track that hosted one NASCAR Cup race each year from 1951-1955. The first race saw Tim and Fonty Flock share the front row when the green dropped. Tim led the first three laps; but Fonty bypassed him and led the next 86 laps before Tim got back around and led until the checkers flew at the end of 200 laps. Lee Petty would finish second. The following year would see things flip-flop as Petty would get the win while Flock finished second. This would also mark the final career Cup start for Louise Smith. After Dick Rathman and Buck Baker would find victory lane in 1953 and 1954; Tim Flock would win the final race at this track in 1955. In this event Flock jumped out to the lead and held the spot for the first 150 laps. Then he had a flat and lost three laps; meanwhile Junior Johnson assumed the lead. As it looked like Johnson was about to cruise to the victory; he too had a flat with 10 laps to go. Flock was able to bypass Johnson as he sat in the pits and go on to get the win.
Richard Petty - 1963
1984 - Neil Bonnett leads Darrell Waltrip
Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway - Nashville TN
The fairgrounds originally opened in 1891 as a horse racing track named Cumberland Park. In September 1904 another series of races was organized. Most of the entrants came directly to Nashville from the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Racing pioneer Barney Oldfield was one of the entrants. People marveled at cars driving over 60 miles per hour. The park became the home of the Tennessee State Fair in 1906. The track is the oldest continually operating track in the United States. The track began holding annual events in September 1915 to coincide with the state fair. Many of the same drivers from the Indianapolis 500 brought their cars down to Nashville. In 1958 the racers got a 10-year lease from the state fair board in order to build a paved 1⁄2 mile track which shared the frontstretch with a 1⁄4 mile track. At the time the track was 1/2 mile oval. In 1958 NASCAR ran it's first race there with a distance of 200 laps. A capacity crowd of 13,998 watched Joe Weatherly win the first NASCAR race on August 10, 1958. The race finished under caution as Jack Smith blew a tire and crashed with five laps to go. 1959 saw the race lengthened to 300 laps and Joe Lee Johnson claim the win by three laps. Coo Coo Marlin was the first back-to-back champion in 1965-1966. 1968 champion P.B. Crowell decided to retire, and hired the talented young Darrell Waltrip to drive his car. Country music legend Marty Robbins raced often at the track in his signature purple and yellow race cars. Several changes happened at the track in the 1960s. Lights were added to the 1⁄2 mile track in 1965, and races in the main division moved to the big track. A fire burned the grandstands at the 1965 State Fair. New grandstands were built and the track was lengthened (and banked to 35 degrees) in 1969. The bankings in the corners proved to be too fast, so the banking was reduce to 18 degrees in 1973. Cale Yarborough would dominate the race leading 416 of the races 420 laps (250 miles). The picture at right noted as "1977" shows a picture of Bobby Allison (12), Dave Marcis (2), and Darrell Waltrip (88) racing for the lead. Benny Parsons would get the win with Yarborough finishing second, followed by Waltrip, Marcis and Richard Petty. In 1984, the top NASCAR series fielded its final race at the facility after disputes with city government and track management. In the final race Geoff Bodine would lead 327 laps to get the win over Darrell Waltrip. I always loved pit stops at this track. The track had a 1/4 mile oval race track inside the mail 1/2 mile track. Both tracks used the same section of the track as their front straight. When a car needed to pit it would go down toward turn #1 and enter onto the 1/4 mile track. After the pit stop the car would continue on around the 1/4 mile track and exit near turn #4. Pit stops were wild. Cars pitted on BOTH side of the small track. There was barely one lane in the center for cars to go through. It was total chaos. I wish I had a video to show it here. Of the 42 Cup races, Richard Petty has nine wins, with Darrell Waltrip right behind with eight wins. Waltrip won 5 of 6 races between 1981 and 1984. The track held 9 Xfinity Series races in 1984, 1988, 1989, and from 1995 to 2000; while the Truck series had five races between 1996-2000. The track was replaced on the schedule by the newly opened Nashville Superspeedway. That Speedway would get NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series race from 2001-2011, but the Cup Series never raced there. Following sluggish attendance for major events and no prospects of gaining a Sprint Cup event, Dover Motorsports announced that the track would not seek NASCAR sanctions in 2012, effectively shutting it down, on August 3, 2011. As far as Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway; the last photo shows the track as it is today. As mentioned above this track is still active. The track was renamed "Music City Motorplex" for 2004 by new promoter Joe Mattioli III, whose family owns Pocono Raceway and South Boston Speedway. It has been changed back since. Tony Formosa Jr is the current promoter of Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. He still has a weekly racing program as well as other special events; including the All American 400. A super Late Model event that is one of the most prestigious in the country. One tedious issue currently is that the power that be will only give the speedway a one year contract, renewing it each year. Meanwhile most other venues have multi-year contracts so they know how long they will be there and feel confident in making capital improvements; etc. The track is kind of in limbo from year to year. One funny story involving Marty Robbins happened when he was racing in the Nashville 420 Cup race. By now Robbins was a headliner on the Grand Ole Opry, and made regular appearances. Often being the shows closing act. One Saturday night, Robbins was running very well in the Cup race and being competitive. He suddenly pulled into the pits and reporters rushed to see what malfunction he had with his car. One reporter ask "Marty, Marty, what put you out of the race. Did the motor blow up". Robbins just looked at him and smiled saying, "Oh the car..?, nothing wrong with it at all. I have to close out the show at the Grand Ole Opry, and if I don't leave now I will be late".
New Hampshire Motor Speedway - Loudon NH
The track opened as New Hampshire International Speedway in June 1990, after nine months of construction following the Bahre family's purchase of the Bryar Motorsports Park. It is a flat, paved oval just over one mile in length. NASCAR made its debut at the track in July 1990, with a Xfinity Series race won by Tommy Ellis. With the Xfinity series races being successful. Loudon gained a spot on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 1993. Rusty Wallace won the inaugural Slick 50 300 in July. After the 1996 season Bahre and Bruton Smith bought North Wilkesboro Speedway and moved one of its Cup dates to New Hampshire. The track also hosted Indy car style racing for seven years, from 1992–1998. In 2000, the track was the site of a pair of fatal collisions which took the lives of two promising young drivers. In May, while practicing for a Busch Series race, Adam Petty perished when his throttle stuck exiting the second turn, resulting in a full speed crash head-on in the middle of the third and fourth turns. When the NASCAR Cup Series made their first appearance of the season, a similar fate befell 1998 Rookie of the Year Kenny Irwin, Jr. The 2001 New Hampshire 300 was originally scheduled for September 16, the Sunday after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The event was postponed until November 23 of that year, which was the Friday after Thanksgiving. There was much concern about the weather, but race day turned out to be unseasonably mild. Robby Gordon won that race In 2002, in an effort to increase competitive racing, the track's corners were turned into a progressive banking system, as the apron was paved and became part of the track, and the track's banking was varied from 4 degrees in the lower two lanes to 12% grade. The addition of SAFER barriers to the corner walls was made in 2003. Before the 2008 racing season, Speedway Motorsports purchased NHIS and other racing-related assets from the Bahre family for $340 million cash. One of the assets included in the sale was a 50% interest in North Wilkesboro Speedway. The other 50% was still owned by Bruton Smith, the CEO of Speedway Motorsports. After the 2012 Sylvania 300, Bruton Smith stated he wants to install permanent lighting at the speedway. However, Bob Bahre signed a legal agreement with the town of Loudon and several neighbors when the track opened that nighttime races were prohibited. The agreement is binding on the current owners. A poll taken in 2012 showed 58% would not mind if night racing happened at the track. In a change twist of fate we saw the Fall race weekend move to Las Vegas. Thus New Hampshire would lose it's date that it got because of North Wilkesboro's demise. NASCAR will continue to race at this facility going forward hosting the Cup; Xfinity; K&N and Whelen Modified events.
North Wilkesboro Speedway - North Wilkesboro NC
This was a short track that held races in NASCAR's top three series, including 93 Winston Cup Series races. The track, a NASCAR original, operated from 1949, NASCAR's inception, until the track's closure in 1996. In 1945, Enoch Staley attended a stock car race in South Carolina. Enoch was inspired by the races. Enoch purchased farmland near North Wilkesboro and began building an oval racetrack. When their initial investment of $1,500 was exhausted, they were forced to amend the original design of the track, hence the completed track was not a perfect oval. The front stretch was left with a downhill slope, and the backstretch had an uphill slope. Construction was completed in late 1946. The speedway opened its doors on May 18, 1947 as a dirt track. Bill France promoted the first official event as a Modified race, including heat races and a feature race. While an attendance of about 3,000 people was expected, a crowd in excess of 10,000 was in attendance. In October, 1949, the track held the eighth and final race of the inception of the 1949 NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Cup) Division. A total of 22 drivers competed in the race for a distance of 200 laps. Bob Flock, passed Bill Blair's fading Cadillac with 20 laps to go and won by about 100 yards over Lee Petty; while "Red" Byron became first NASCAR champion. Before the 1950 race, the track was lengthened to a 5/8 mile oval and the laps were shortened to 160 laps (still 100 miles) won by Leon Sales. 1957 saw the track paved. That year Jack Smith would claim the checkers. The length of the Fall 1960 race was increased from 100 mile to 200 miles. Rex White would beat Junior Johnson by 1/2 lap when the checkered flew. It would be the first of three wins in a row for White. The 1970's saw the Petty - Allison feud intense at this track. Close-quarters, beating-n-banging duels between them saw the fans packs the stands and kept them on their feet. This feud was replaced by Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Sr in the 1980's. Throughout all it's years the track provided great racing. Enoch Staley died of a stroke on May 22, 1995. Less than one month later, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. CEO Bruton Smith purchased fifty percent of the shares of the speedway. Smith and Mike Staley, Enoch's son, would have equal representation on the track. Mike Staley was installed as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Speedway. On January 1, 1996, the fifty-percent interest in North Wilkesboro Speedway, owned by the Staley family, was sold to racetrack developer Bob Bahre, owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Both Bahre and Bruton Smith already owned several NASCAR circuits. They announced their intent to use the spring and fall race dates for their own tracks, citing North Wilkesboro Speedway's age and lack of modern amenities. The final Cup race was held in September 1996; and saw Jeff Gordon edge Dale Earnhardt by almost two seconds at the end of 400 lap distance. The track was closed after the fall race of 1996. North Wilkesboro's spring date was moved to Smith's new Texas Motor Speedway. The fall date was taken over by Bahre's New Hampshire track.
North Carolina Motor Speedway - Rockingham NC
North Carolina Motor Speedway was the project of Harold Brasington and Bill Land. Brasington, a land developer, also built NASCAR's first superspeedway, Darlington Raceway, in 1950.The tracks name was later changed to Rochingham Speedway and nicknamed "The Rock". The track opened as a flat, one-mile paved oval on October 31, 1965. It's first race was a Cup race. The American 500 was a 500-lap, 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series race won by Curtis Turner and 35,000 people attended. The speedway hosted two Cup races each year starting in 199 and did so through 2003. The race lengths was shortened to 400 miles in 1995. Typically the race held it's Spring race in late Feburary or early march; and it's Fall race in late October. This possibily was a major cause for the track losing it's spot on the Cup Circuit. With the tracks location being in the mountains of North Carolina; weather was often cold and blustery on these race dates and it effected attendance greatly. Richard Petty was strong at this facility; winning five of the tracks fisrt 13 races. David Pearson also ran well posting one win and four second place finishes during the same span. In 1969, the track was extensively reconfigured to a high-banked, D-shaped oval just over one mile in length. As part of the acquisition of the Penske Speedways in 1999, the Speedway was sold to International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and in 2004, one of its two Sprint Cup races was transferred to ISC's California Speedway. The change was made after sagging attendance at Rockingham Speedway. It left the track with only one date, in late February, a highly unpopular date for spectators due to the commonly unpredictable weather. That date was moved up from the traditional early spring date in 1992 when Richmond International Raceway wanted a later date than the traditional post-Daytona date because of two postponements in the late 1980s caused by snow. Rumors persisted that the track's lone remaining date was also in jeopardy, as several new tracks in larger, warm-weather markets coveted the date. The track hosted its final race, the Subway 400, on February 22, 2004. In that last race, Matt Kenseth held off rookie Kasey Kahne on the last lap to win by only 0.010 seconds. This finish was one of the closest in NASCAR history. Over the tracks history it hosted 78 Cup races from 1965-2004. Richard Petty holds the records for the most wins with 11 in 54 starts. Cale Yarborough has seven wins. ISC sold Rockingham Speedway to Speedway Motorsports (SMI), and the track's lone remaining race was "transferred" to Texas Motor Speedway. The Rockingham track was often praised for good racing, including 37 official lead changes in one race in 1981, and for having great sightlines for spectators. However, the facility made limited infrastructure reinvestments over the years while being owned by the DeWitt family, and seemed to lag behind other facilities which continually modernized and updated their business plans. Speedway Motorsports put the track up for auction on October 2, 2007. ARCA RE/MAX Series Series car owner and former driver Andy Hillenburg, who owns Fast Track High Performance Driving School, paid $4.4 million for the track. Just hours after closing the deal for the sale, he called some sanctioning bodies to arrange dates for his new circuit. Hillenburg made improvements to the track, including installing SAFER barriers; hosted several different race series including the NASCAR Truck series and Whelen Modified series through 2014. In September of that year, In September it was reported that Farmers & Merchants Bank was requesting a court order to take "immediate and exclusive custody" of the speedway from co-owners Hillenburg and Bill Silas, who were reported to owe $4.5 million to the bank. On May 16, 2016, BK Rock Holdings purchased Rockingham Speedway at a Richmond County Courthouse auction for US$3 million. The track sat idle. Then on August 30, 2018 a group of North Carolina investors named Rockingham Properties LLC., leaded by Dan Lovenheim, completed the purchase of the track. Lovenheim announced 4 days later that racing would be returning to the track in some form in the near future. Officially reopening the track to racing again. As of this writing we are anxious to see what transpires. The track has been the site of several film and commercial projects. Some items of note include: 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story; Talladega Night: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby; Days of Thunder; and UPS commercials featuring Dale Jarrett, the UPS truck, and team.
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