Charlotte Motor Speedway - The Epicenter of NASCAR
Many of the world’s racing tracks feel like home for both the spectators and the drivers. Truly, those involved in the realm of motorsport grow attached to certain tracks over time, be it for their straights and curves, the view they give, or simply for getting accustomed to them. One track, however, is rightfully considered as the very home of NASCAR, having many teams’ headquarters based in its proximity: the Charlotte Motor Speedway, found in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Speedways Motorsports Inc. headquarters
This racing oval is located in Concord, some 20 km from Charlotte, and hosts NASCAR events with the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial day being probably the most important. The track is owned by Speedways Motorsports Inc. which also owns many other speedways, with Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway or Sonoma Raceway being some of them. But, Charlotte Motor Speedway is ’Primus inter pares’ as the Speedways Motorsports’ headquarters is located at this very speedway.
Difficult times after the first few races
Charlotte Motor Speedway was projected by Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. It was opened in 1960, after one year of works and a cost of $1.25 million, but soon after opening, the venue fell into financial troubles which were resolved after major stakeholders secured loans. Bankruptcy was avoided and all the debts were paid until 1967. That allowed normal day-to-day operations and further development of the venue in the late 1970s.
Constant track modernization
A new grandstand was built, and other facilities were also built or modernized to increase the comfort of the visitors. Through the decades, the facilities improvement was constant: in 1992, permanent lighting was installed to allow night racing and Charlotte Motor Speedway was the first modern circuit capable of hosting night events. In 1999, this track became the first having a corporate sponsor, after Lowe’s company bought the naming rights.
The first facility to bring homes to the track
Huge LED screen with dimensions of 61×24 meters adorns the race track. It was built in 2010, and it was the largest screen in the world at the time, though this title was taken over by the bigger one built at Texas Motor Speedway. Another interesting fact is that in 1984, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the first sports facility in the US to offer living accommodations after 40 condominiums were built above turn 1.
Super modern venue
Today, Charlotte Motor Speedway is a super modern venue with a seating capacity of 94.000. The asphalt track is 2.4 km long, has four turns with a banking of 24 degrees, while the banking on the straights is five degrees. The Dirt track with a clay surface, built in 2000, is also a part of the complex just as zMax Dragway, a modern four-lane drag strip built in 2008.
NASCAR races and All Star weekends occupy the laps of Charlotte Motor Speedway
Once, Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted the IndyCar races, another venue in the hands of Speedways Motorsports Inc. Today, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck Series are the main racing events every year. Hendrick Motorsports is the most successful at this track so far with 17 victories – Jimmie Johnson has six, Jeff Gordon five, Darrell Waltrip two, while Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte, Casey Mears and Kasey Kahne have one win on their accounts.
As Charlotte Motor Speedway is a huge venue, it is well suited for the various non-racing happenings and it is one of the most busiest sports venues in the US. One of the largest car shows in the United States is held twice a year, many exhibitions and fairs also were held at this speedway, as well as many concerts and TV shows. Some movies were filmed at Charlotte Motor Speedway, most notably ’Days of Thunder’.
Sadly, Charlotte Motor Speedway has also seen some harsh moments. In 1995, Russell Phillips was killed in one of the most awful crashes in the history of racing. The body of the poor 26-year-old racer was literally torn and decapitated, leaving the spectators shocked in disbelief.
Video : Russell Phillips’ horrible crash while driving at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Five years later, a pedestrian bridge from the track to the parking collapsed, falling on the highway. Luckily, nobody was killed but more than 100 people were injured. Many of them sued the speedway but most of the lawsuits were settled out of the court.
Address: 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC 28027, United States
Phone: +1 704 455 3200