How NASCAR returned to North Wilkesboro after 26 years of ruin (2023)

  • How NASCAR returned to North Wilkesboro after 26 years of ruin (1)

    Ryan McGee, ESPN Senior WriterMay 18, 2023, 11:48 AM ET


    • Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and
    • 2-time Sports Emmy winner
    • 2010, 2014 NMPA Writer of the Year
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Nine-thousand, seven-hundred and thirty-one days.

When the NASCAR All-Star Race drops the green flag on Sunday evening, that's how long it will have been since the cars of its premiere division, the Cup Series, raced for cash and prizes at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Three-hundred nineteen months and 23 days.

That's so many calendar pages ripped off and thrown away that the 25-year-old kid who won that last race, Jeff Gordon, victor of the Tyson Holly Farms 400 of Sept. 29, 1996, is now seven years into retirement and vice chairman of the team he was driving for when he held off Dale Earnhardt for the 19th of his eventual 93 victories.

Twenty-six years, seven months and 23 days.

So long ago that 34 of the 37 drivers in the field with Gordon on that day are all retired from Cup Series racing. The other three are no longer with us. Neither are a huge chunk of the sponsors that were on track that day, from Hayes Modems to PrimeStar. So long ago that seven of the drivers entered in this weekend's event weren't yet born and at least that many were still in diapers.

(Video) Racing Returns: North Wilkesboro Speedway's ride back to NASCAR glory

Two-hundred thirty-three-thousand, five-hundred forty-four hours. That's 14,012,640 minutes or 840,758,400 seconds, or, in North Wilkesboro Speedway stopwatch time, roughly 45,446,400 laps run.

No American sports venue has ever hosted a big league team or series, been offline for this long and then had that team or series return. Sure, RFK Stadium lost the Washington Senators in 1971 and MLB didn't return with the Nationals until 2005, but those 34 years were occupied by no less than eight other franchises, from the NFL to the NASL. And yes, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was closed during World War II, but that was for only four years.

For the vast majority of 1,390 weeks, the North Wilkesboro Speedway was shuttered. Padlocked. Draped with "No Trespassing" signs. As its grandstands rusted, roofs collapsed and fences were devoured by vines, any other building in its condition would have been condemned long ago. But no one in Wilkes County, North Carolina, with that kind of authority could bring themselves to do it. To put the misshapen .625-mile bullring out of its misery, because pulling that plug would have been like pulling the aorta from their hearts.

"I give the people of that area a lot of credit, because they never gave up hope that the place might come alive again," says Marcus Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports and now a bona fide Wilkes County hero, despite being begat from the most hated man in these moonshine-soaked parts to never wear a revenuer's badge. "No matter how far-fetched the idea of returning might have felt, no matter how far away actually running a NASCAR Cup Series event seemed, they never gave up hope. And now here we are."

Just how far away did it get? Depending on who you ask and where along that 9,731-day timeline one looks, North Wilkesboro's rock bottom is a matter of personal perspective.

BP's dream

For Terri Parsons, the furthest away this Sunday ever felt was August 2011. I know because I ran into her, accidentally, in a Wilkesboro, North Carolina, hotel lobby. I had stopped there in the middle of the night, too tired to make it all the way down the mountain home to Charlotte after covering a night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. I hit the lobby looking for breakfast and there was my friend Terri, widow of NASCAR Hall of Famer Benny Parsons, my former ESPN coworker and mentor.

Parsons died of lung cancer in January 2007, only weeks before the completion of Rendezvous Ridge, a winery, event venue and homeplace they had together built in the hills where Benny grew up, just a few hollers over from the racetrack. It was part of BP's grand plan to resurrect the area and, eventually, the racetrack where he had grown up watching his stock car racing heroes before spending his entire adult life racing and broadcasting at that same bullring, including the final race in '96.

"All I know to do is try and help the people who helped me," Parsons told me the one time I paid a visit to Rendezvous Ridge amid its construction. "It hurts my heart every single time I drive by that racetrack."

It had indeed hurt my heart when I drove by it on Highway 421, coming and going to Bristol via the Benny Parsons Highway that very weekend. Only three months earlier, I had stood on the frontstretch doing live TV, interviewing a man named Alton McBride, who was part of a group of racing promoters who managed to kill enough frontstretch weeds and convince enough local leaders to allow them to run a full slate of Labor Day weekend races in 2010, including an event won by a 14-year-old kid named Chase Elliott.

The plan was to do it all again the following two years and perhaps beyond, but funding that had been promised never materialized and McBride was gone weeks later. North Wilkesboro Speedway was chained up once again.

That same summer Rendezvous Ridge was struck by lightning twice during a wedding rehearsal dinner and burned to the ground. That's why Terri Parsons was in the hotel lobby with me that morning. She was living there.

"I carry around a handwritten list of goals that Benny had, that he gave me, and reopening the racetrack is at the top the list," she told me that morning over bad hotel coffee, robe and all. She walked me through the failure of McBride's efforts. She talked about the valiant efforts of the Save the Speedway foundation. We smiled as we recalled her "Moonshiners & Revenuers" reunions that had bootlegging legends sitting on rocking chairs and telling tall tales alongside Junior Johnson and even NASCAR president Mike Helton.

I am digging through all my old North Wilkesboro files and just found this. The Moonshiners & Revenuers Reunion from 2010, held at Benny Parsons' place in Wilkes County. Yes, that's Junior Johnson doing donuts in a 1940 Ford. Shot it on my FlipCam! #NASCAR75

(Video) I Once Was Lost: A Video Essay About North Wilkesboro Speedway

— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) May 17, 2023

She still beamed with pride when talking about her 2010 convincing of Richard Childress to bring Kevin Harvick to the abandoned track for a test run. After turning laps on a surface that took 800 gallons of Roundup to clear of weeds, Harvick exclaimed, shocked, "Do not touch this racetrack! It's perfect." Then she rattled off a list of all the ideas, schemes and plans that had been brought to her since Benny's death.

"So much momentum was happening and then, poof, it's gone," she said. "Everyone around here has become very jaded, and you can't blame them. Everyone who has ever gotten their hopes up has either lied to them or disappeared. You should have been at the county commissioners meeting when Bruton Smith stormed out."

Oh yeah, Bruton Smith ...

Returning to the Earth

The way most people want to remember it now is that the furthest away this Sunday ever got was on the very day of that last Cup race in 1996. Gordon's win came in North Wilkesboro Speedway's 93rd Strictly Stock/Grand National/Winston Cup Series event, going all the way back to when it hosted the finale of that series' inaugural season on Oct. 16, 1949.

The reality for those who were there that day was a little different.

"Honestly, I think when we left that day, we all truly believed we'd be back sooner than later," remembers Danny Lawrence, then an engine tuner at Richard Childress Racing and longtime member of Dale Earnhardt's famed "Flying Aces" pit crew. "That was an era when NASCAR was growing so fast and it was chasing dollars all over the country, in places like Vegas and Texas and California, so it was inevitable that Wilkesboro would lose races. But the idea of it never coming back there, that just didn't seem possible. But then the years kept ticking by, didn't they?"

To understand what happened to the racetrack you have to understand the context of Lawrence's remembrance. In 1994 there were 18 racetracks on the Winston Cup Series schedule, sharing 31 race dates. Only two of those tracks were located outside the eastern time zone and seven facilities hosting 14 races were essentially in the same neighborhood, a three-state triangle stretching from Darlington, South Carolina, north to Richmond, Virginia, and west to Bristol, Tennessee.

By 2001, that portfolio had expanded to 23 racetracks spread out from coast to coast, including six new speedways. The owner of six of those 23 tracks was Bruton Smith, a longtime thorn in NASCAR's side but a billionaire who was also responsible for fueling a large part of the sport's ridiculous momentum as it entered the new millennium.

As stock car racing exploded its way toward that shift in corporate culture, North Wilkesboro was becoming the old man's house from the movie "Up" -- a quaint, outdated little house surrounded by rising glass skyscrapers. With a finite number of coveted Cup Series races available, track owners started snooping around to buy older facilities, not for the tracks themselves but for the dates that came with them.

On Jan. 23, 1995, a man named Enoch Staley died at the age of 77, following a massive stroke. Staley was the man who built North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1947. He was a son of Wilkes County and a businessman who saw an opportunity in constructing a speedway where brother Gwyn and others who'd piloted souped-up machines for running 'shine in the nearby hills could come and see once and for all who had the fastest revenuer-outrunning rides. His co-investor was one of those bootleggers, Charlie Combs, whose brother Jack Combs would eventually take over as track co-owner. They had enough cash to plow a dirt oval on Combs' land just east of town, but not enough to even it out, thus the downhill frontstretch and uphill backstretch that will still befuddle racers this weekend just as it did in '47.

Staley became a confidant to NASCAR founder Bill France and later Bill France Jr. As long as those ties existed, North Wilkesboro Speedway felt safe. The moment Staley died, in the words of son Mike, "The buzzards came swooping in."

Days after Staley's death, Bruton Smith knocked on the Combses' front door and offered Jack $6 million. Jack Combs, knowing he had no shot holding off the new NASCAR futurist machine, sold. Mike Staley says that Smith immediately showed up at his office to announce that he was their new business partner, like it or not. Knowing that Smith was going to take one of North Wilkesboro's races and send it west to his sparkling new $250 million Texas Motor Speedway, Staley courted another track owner in need of a Cup race, New Hampshire Motor Speedway owner Bob Bahre, who bought the Staley half of the track for $8 million.

Smith, who never needed much encouragement to hold a grudge, was livid. In Wilkes County, he was already so despised among the locals that he was told by police not to attend the track's final race in '96 because they would not be able to guarantee his safety. But instead of working to repair his image among the people of North Wilkesboro, he went full downhome Darth Vader. By 2007, he had purchased Bahre's racetrack business and held full ownership of their little mountain racetrack.

(Video) Wilkesboro's Finest | FULL FILM Featuring North Wilkesboro Speedway

For the next two decades, whenever he was asked about the possibility of reopening the little racetrack in the mountains, he scoffed. He joked. He made fun. When he did seem to flirt with the idea, talking with potential buyers, investors or local government officials, he also seemed to take joy in pulling the rug out from underneath them.

It was Bruton Smith who famously said when asked for an update on the status of North Wilkesboro Speedway, "I suppose it's returning to the earth."

That was late summer 2009. Racing at North Wilkesboro Speedway certainly seemed a long way away after that.

A toilet problem

The furthest this Sunday night ever felt for me personally was a decade earlier, on a rainy December day in 1999. I was riding in the jump seat of a too-tight pickup truck cab. The rear window had a leak in the seal and there was cold water dripping down the back of my neck. But I didn't care. Because the man riding shotgun right in front of me was Tom Higgins, aka the greatest NASCAR beat writer who ever lived. And the man driving the truck was Junior Johnson, aka The Last American Hero.

I was with "Pap" and Junior working on a TV story about Johnson's upcoming book, co-authored by Higgins and Steve Waid. We'd shot an interview at Junior's house that morning, where he had handed me a Mason jar of cherry-infused moonshine ("The real stuff," he grumbled. "So be careful with it"). We had ridden into Wilkesboro and had lunch at Harold's Restaurant, owned by Harold Call, he of the shine-running Calls. Harold sat with us for a little while, and when the topic turned to the racetrack, he pointed to a wall over a booth and a framed photo of two huge, nasty hogs.

"We call one of them Bob Bahre and we call the other one Bruton," Call said. We all laughed. Call did not.

Inspired by the conversation, Johnson announced that we were going to the racetrack. The place where he had first fallen in love with racing.

He told the story about his first start behind the wheel. He was 17 and plowing the cornfield at home in Ingle Hollow, a crossroads about 10 miles from the spot where Enoch Staley and Jack Combs had built their new speedway. It was summer 1949, the track was preparing to host NASCAR's new Strictly Stock series. Way more people had showed up than expected, so Staley needed drivers to stage a series of preliminary races he'd just added to the schedule. Johnson parked his plow mule, ran up to the house to get some shoes (yes, he was barefoot) and that afternoon he finished second in his very first race. The winner was Gwyn Staley.

As Johnson told us the story 50 years later, the Winston-red brick building over North Wilkesboro Speedway's first turn rose into view. After only three years of sitting empty, it already looked awful.

Johnson said, "I don't think many people have been out there since that race. I know I haven't. I didn't go to the last race. I couldn't make myself do it. The Staleys didn't go. The Combs didn't go, and hell, they lived on the property. It'd just been too sad for them and for me."

We stopped by another next door house, occupied by another member of the Call family, Paul, and got the key to unlock the gate. We walked into the infield and into the driver's lounge. It was like a time capsule. Scorecards still sat on the desk. The blue and brown country print couches were still something right out of someone's grandmother's living room. The hydraulic lift that carried Jeff Gordon's car from the ground to the rooftop Victory Lane still worked, but little else did.

The grandstands were rotting. The windows of the press box were smashed. And there was a smell.

"That's the plumbing," Johnson explained. "It didn't work worth a damn in '96, so you know it don't work now. That alone is why it's going to be hard to ever open this up again. Inspectors around here looked the other way for so long, they can't do that now. This place has got a toilet problem."

(Video) Who Really Won North Wilkesboro 1990?

Johnson slapped Higgins on the shoulder. "Let's get out of here. This is making me sadder than hell. They ain't ever opening this up again."

Just how far away did it get?

Over the next 20 years, every single time I saw Johnson, he'd repeat that line to me again. He said it to me after he took his son Robert there to run some test laps in 2010. He said it to me at those Moonshiners & Revenuers Reunions. He even said to me at Disney-Pixar HQ, when I was chatting with him about his role in "Cars 3," in which he plays Junior "Midnight" Moon. During production he'd even had the director and animators over to his house and took them out to the racetrack so they could sketch and take notes. When director Brian Fee asked if the place might be reopened, Johnson told them what he always told me.

"That place has got a toilet problem." Then he added, "To fix that racetrack up it's going to take someone with a lot money, a lot of guts and maybe not a lot of common sense."

Enter Marcus Smith.

"Yeah," the 50-year-old CEO confesses after hearing that quote, laughing. "I guess that's pretty much me, isn't it?"

As the 2010s neared their end, Marcus Smith transitioned into the leadership position at Speedway Motorsports. He is smart like his father, but he is also much easier to navigate in a boardroom. All the Smith business sense without Bruton's emotional baggage. Among those who called on the more approachable new boss was Terri Parsons. That was in 2018. When silence followed over the next two years, the good people of Wilkes County assumed it was just another verse of the same sad, silent song.

Then came 2020, when a pandemic-forced change of mindset opened the door for NASCAR to be more creative with its scheduling, and a surge in online gaming opened the door for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the designers at iRacing to clean up the track and digitally scan it. Then came March 2021, when Marcus Smith said on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s podcast that he wanted to talk about North Wilkesboro Speedway. Then North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper allocated money to refurbish racetracks throughout the state, which Smith used to start paving and lighting. Then Smith looked at laying dirt on the track ... then was talked out of it ... then floated the idea of maybe, possibly a NASCAR Trucks race to Lesa France Kennedy ... who jumped at the idea ... and Trucks became Cup, which became the All-Star Race and ... well ...

So far away suddenly became not far away at all. Now 9,731 days are about to tick down to zero.

Terri Parsons will be there. So will the Staleys. So will the Combs, finally ready to make that walk across the field, this week to watch one of their own, Dylan Wilson, great-grandson of Jack Combs, race his Late Model machine against Dale Junior. So will so many Calls, along with hundreds of other Wilkes County residents who swore they'd never come back until the Cup cars came back.

Junior Johnson won't be there. He died December 2020. Benny Parsons won't be there, either, gone for more than 16 years. But just last week, both had newly refurbished grandstands named in their honor. Bruton Smith will also not be among the expected crowd of 25,000. He died one year ago at the age of 95, believed to be the oldest-ever Fortune 500 CEO.

"I think as someone who loves the history of this sport, I love the places where you can feel the presence of those who came before you, who built these places and NASCAR as whole," Marcus Smith says, beaming. "That past isn't perfect, but that builds character. It's just like that racetrack itself. North Wilkesboro Speedway is far from perfect. It's never been perfect. But man, there is so much character."


What happens to wrecked Nascar cars? ›

Crumpled frames and engines are sent to scrapyards like Gordon or Foil's, Inc., in Harrisburg, N.C., where they are flattened, then ripped into hand-size pieces that will be milled back into new steel. And some of that steel can end up back in a race shop.

How much would it cost to renovate North Wilkesboro Speedway? ›

How much did North Wilkesboro Speedway renovations cost? The North Wilkesboro Speedway total renovation costs were north of $20 million. The project received $22 million in grants — including $18 million from the American Rescue Plan and $4 million in additional state grants, according to Fox Sports.

When was the last Nascar Cup race at North Wilkesboro? ›

When was the last time NASCAR ran at North Wilkesboro? September 29, 1996. You'll hear that date a bunch Sunday night. That Cup Series race was won by Jeff Gordon, with Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jarrett filing in right behind him.

When did they stop racing at North Wilkesboro Speedway? ›

North Wilkesboro hosted more than 90 Cup races before it closed in 1996, a result of NASCAR's dramatic growth during that time and arguments that it wasn't large or fancy enough as the sport tapped into new markets. The track's races went to New Hampshire and Texas.

Does anyone care about NASCAR anymore? ›

NASCAR viewership on television is down, but once you delve into the facts, its not as dire as some may have you believe. Admittedly, overnight ratings for every race this season have been down compared to last year. But the NASCAR television audience is still a tremendous asset to advertisers.

Who pays for a wrecked NASCAR? ›

Racers Pay For Their Own Coverage

Unlike pit crews that are directly hired by the company, race car drivers are signed as independent contractors. Therefore, they are responsible for buying their own life and auto insurance policies like the average person.

Will NASCAR ever return to North Wilkesboro? ›

In September 2022 it was announced that NASCAR would host the 2023 All-Star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Who owns the North Wilkesboro Speedway? ›

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith said North Wilkesboro Speedway "definitely has a place in the NASCAR world" moving forward, despite an All-Star race that lacked drama Sunday night. In what capacity remains to be seen.

Will NASCAR bring back North Wilkesboro Speedway? ›

A few weeks after the CARS Tour race, Earnhardt and O'Donnell joined Smith in Raleigh, N.C., for a press conference with the governor to announce that North Wilkesboro would host the 2023 All-Star Race. After decades of being gone, NASCAR was, indeed, returning.

What is the oldest NASCAR track still in use? ›

Founded in 1947 by the late H. Clay Earles, Martinsville Speedway is only track which has hosted NASCAR Cup Series races every year since the division's inception in 1949.

What is the longest lasting NASCAR race? ›

The first race, held in 1960, was also the first one held at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It is the longest race on NASCAR's schedule at 600 miles (970 km).

What are the oldest tracks in NASCAR? ›

Historic Darlington Raceway hosted its first premier series race in 1950 and it was quite a big – and long -event.

What is the oldest speedway in the United States? ›

The Pleasanton Fairgrounds Racetrack at the Alameda County Fairgrounds is the oldest horse racing track in America, dating back to 1858, when it was founded by the sons of the Spaniard Don Agustin Bernal.

Why did NASCAR stop using Kentucky Speedway? ›

In the end, Kentucky Speedway ultimately succumbed to its inability to bring in enough revenue for its parent company. “This was something, while difficult, it is the right business decision,” Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith said Wednesday in an interview with Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass.

Who owns Wilkesboro Dragway? ›

Wilkesboro Dragway has a rich history and a beautiful landscape to go with it. Both the Olish and Salvatore families are dedicated to continue racing and bringing family centered events to the great Wilkes Community.

Why is NASCAR popularity declining? ›

Reasons cited for its decline include the aforementioned track changes, the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow which both drivers and fans alike criticized, the constant tinkering of the rules of its championship and the racing itself, the change in its race day experience, the perceived decline in the quality of its ...

Is NASCAR dropping in popularity? ›

There has been a decline in overall attendance for NASCAR races, with several factors contributing, including changing fan demographics, economic challenges, and the growth of digital media consumption.

Is NASCAR growing or declining? ›

NASCAR is nearing the final lap of a 10-year, $8.2 billion TV rights deal with Fox and NBC that is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season. Ratings this year are averaging 3.54 million viewers, down from 4.19 million in 2022, according to Nielsen.

How much does it cost to enter a car in a NASCAR race? ›

3. It costs money to do this stuff: Teams pay a $4,300 “entry and inspection fee” to have their primary car approved for competition during a NASCAR weekend. If an inspected/approved car is wrecked beyond repair, the team must pay another $4,300 to have the backup car inspected and approved for competition.

Do NASCAR pit crews get paid? ›

Well, NASCAR pit crews are well-compensated for their hard work and dedication. The average salary for a pit crew member ranges from $30,000 to $100,000 per year. This salary can vary depending on factors such as the team's success, the pit crew member's experience, and any sponsorship deals that the team may have.

How much does a lead tire carrier get paid in NASCAR? ›

A typical NASCAR Pit Crew member starts from a salary of $500 for the day for doing the duties of a Utilityman. Then comes the Tire Changer and Carrier duos, who can earn $1500 each, with a winning bonus of around $300. This makes their early earnings in the ballpark of $80,000.

Is Dodge in NASCAR anymore? ›

After several years of financial difficulties, the Chrysler-owned brand was under Italian management. Despite Chrysler going bankrupt in the 2008's financial crisis, Dodge has continued to compete in NASCAR.

Why did Dodge drop NASCAR? ›

Dodge appeared in NASCAR Racing until 2012. Winning 260 times in their history. Dodge leaving NASCAR racing was caused by the departure to Ford of the successful Team Penske, an inability to find a new competitive team, and the viability of running a NASCAR team during a period of takeover and cost cutting.

Why is NASCAR left turns? ›

In America, cars are left hand drive. The long left turn in NASCAR allows the driver to get a better view of the apex of the turn which helps turn the car better at high speeds. Simply put though, the iconic oval and the left turns have just become part of the NASCAR experience.

What was the top speed at North Wilkesboro Speedway? ›

Kyle Larson had the fastest practice lap on Friday at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina, where he reached a top speed of 109.144 mph. Larson is 9-1 to win in the latest 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race odds at Caesars Sportsbook and last won the All-Star Race in 2019.

Who bought I 30 Speedway? ›

After going through several owners, Joe Clay -- who won several championships at the track as a sprint car driver -- purchased the track in 1987 with two partners, brothers Ron and Odus Pack. The track's name was changed to I-30 Speedway and Clay became the sole owner in 1990.

Who owns 82 Speedway? ›

New ownership will take over the Rocket Raceway Park. The Petty, Texas, dirt oval formally known as 82 Speedway will see a new branding for the 2022 season. The management team of Kevin Sustaire and Kevin Rogers will take the reins at the Rocket Raceway Park.

Who owns North Wilkesboro Speedway 2023? ›

It was re-opened in August 2022 for grassroots racing and hosted the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race and a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, with further renovations planned after the events.
North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Capacity19,800 permanent - 24,800 with temp grandstands
OwnerSpeedway Motorsports, Inc. (1995–present)
Broke ground1945
12 more rows

Who brought back North Wilkesboro Speedway? ›

Prior to his passing in 2007, his dying wish was to bring life back to his beloved track. "I'm just going down my husband's checklist," Terri Parsons, Benny Parsons' wife, said. "And I kept going back to that number three, and number three was the reopening of North Wilkesboro Speedway."

Did Dale Jr ever race at North Wilkesboro Speedway? ›

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was quite emotional after the CARS Tour race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in August.

What is the closest NASCAR finish ever? ›

Closest finishes
NASCAR Cup Series closest finishes
RankRace2nd Place
12003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400Kurt Busch
12011 Aaron's 499Clint Bowyer
32001 Gatorade Duel 2*Dale Earnhardt Jr.
55 more rows

What is the easiest NASCAR track? ›

The 5 NASCAR Tracks That Provide the Least Exciting Racing
  1. Pocono Raceway. 1 of 5. "The Tricky Triangle," as Pocono Raceway is affectionately known as, has been hosting Sprint Cup Series races since 1974. ...
  2. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 2 of 5. ...
  3. Watkins Glen and Sonoma. 3 of 5. ...
  4. Kentucky Speedway. 5 of 5.

What year did NASCAR stop using stock cars? ›

The Strictly Stock cars were used until 1966 when NASCAR ordered its first significant competition change to the Grand National Division.

Who has the longest NASCAR career without a win? ›

One day before his fatal accident at Watkins Glen International, McDuffie won a celebrity race in Owego, New York, at the Shangri-La Speedway, not far from Watkins Glen. McDuffie is still the record holder for the most starts in NASCAR's top touring series without recording a win.

Who has the most consecutive years with a win in NASCAR? ›

Kyle Busch surpassed Richard Petty on the all-time list with a victory in 19 consecutive NASCAR Cup Series seasons.

What is the best race in NASCAR history? ›

Greatest NASCAR Races of All Time
  1. 1 1992 Hooter's 500. I was there at start finish. ...
  2. 2 1979 Daytona 500. Greatest race. ...
  3. 3 1998 Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt won the great American race after a million times! ...
  4. 4 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealer's 400. ...
  5. 5 1987 Winston.
  6. 6 2007 Daytona 500. ...
  7. 7 2000 Winston 500. ...
  8. 8 1988 Daytona 500.

What is the most difficult NASCAR track? ›

With its distinctive egg-shaped design, Darlington Raceway is considered the toughest track in NASCAR. It was built in 1949, at the dawn of the sport, on an old peanut farm in rural South Carolina.

What is the most popular NASCAR track? ›

1. Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 is held each year in Daytona Beach, Florida, and is considered “The Great American Race.” It is a race with a distinguished history, and it was only the second stock car race in history to last 500 miles.

What NASCAR track has the steepest banking? ›

Talladega Superspeedway

The track itself is the crown jewel of NASCAR and it sports a maximum banking of 33°. Often called "Dega", the track is located at the former Anniston Air Force Base in Lincoln, Alabama. Along with being the most steeply banked, Talladega is also the longest oval at 2.66-miles long.

What is the largest racetrack in the United States? ›

1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Circuit Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located in Indiana, USA.

What is the largest motor speedway in the United States? ›

List of motor racing venues by capacity
Texas Motor Speedway181,655United States
Bristol Motor Speedway162,000United States
Talladega Superspeedway160,000United States
Suzuka Circuit155,000Japan
78 more rows

What is the oldest motor race in history? ›

The first organized automobile competition, a reliability test in 1894 from Paris to Rouen, France, a distance of about 80 km (50 mi), was won with an average speed of 16.4 kph (10.2 mph). In 1895 the first true race was held, from Paris to Bordeaux, France, and back, a distance of 1,178 km.

Why did Lowes pull out of NASCAR? ›

“This is a hit to NASCAR and the team, but, in the big picture, this is an issue beyond the sport as much as anything,” Page said. “Lowe's has some financial issues that have been building for a while and it just doesn't make sense to put $20 million-plus into a NASCAR program right now.

Will Kentucky Speedway ever get another NASCAR race? ›

It appears that there will be no NASCAR-sanctioned, national touring series events at either Kentucky Speedway nor Chicagoland moving forward. In addition to the NASCAR Cup Series since 2011, Kentucky Speedway has played host to Xfinity Series races since 2001 and truck series events since 2000.

Is NASCAR getting rid of Road America? ›

With the addition of the Chicago street course in early July 2023, the Road America road course will fall off the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. “We've had some great racing there the past couple of years with the Cup Series,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy.

How much did it cost to renovate the North Wilkesboro Speedway? ›

Conversation. North Wilkesboro's renovation cost north of $20 million between a seven-figure spend from Speedway Motorsports + $18 million from the American Rescue Plan COVID stimulus.

Why was Atlanta Dragway sold? ›

The most significant selling point for Atlanta Dragway was that it was a facility the late IHRA founder and president Larry Carrier coveted. “Larry Carrier wanted a drag strip in Atlanta badly,” noted drag racing historian Bret Kepner said.

What happens when a NASCAR driver has to go to the bathroom? ›

Some NASCAR drivers have been known to use a catheter, which is a small tube that is inserted into the bladder through the urethra, in order to relieve themselves during races. The catheter can be connected to a bag, allowing drivers to urinate without having to stop the car or get out of their seat.

What does NASCAR do with all the old tires? ›

So what does NASCAR do with its old tires? They recycle them. Liberty Tire Recycling is the official recycling partner of the sport that helps them not only in the process of recycling an old tire, but also to make sure its put to good use.

What is the most cars wrecked in a NASCAR race? ›

On lap 14, the largest crash in modern NASCAR history (1972–present) took place at the exit of turn two, with 31 cars being involved. Three cars (Stacy Compton, Jason Keller, and Kenny Wallace) had cleared pole-sitter Johnny Sauter as the field started down the back-straightaway.

What happens if a NASCAR driver has to go to the bathroom? ›

The entirety of these races are spent in the car, so there is no running to the bathroom for the driver to relieve themselves properly. This means that, on rare occasions, NASCAR drivers urinate during a race, but they are forced to do it directly in their fire suits while driving their race car.

How do NASCAR drivers drink water? ›

So, how do NASCAR drivers stay hydrated during a race? They either keep bottles of fluid inside their vehicles, or they use a sophisticated hydrating system that involves a pipe that reaches from a liquid reservoir to their helmet.

How do NASCAR drivers see without mirrors? ›

NASCAR cars are not fitted with external mirrors due to safety regulations. Drivers rely on cameras, spotters, and an internal rearview mirror to get a good view of their surroundings instead of traditional side mirrors. Cameras were originally installed as an additional method of televising the sport.

How much does a TYRE changer get paid in NASCAR? ›

Tire changer and tire carrier

A NASCAR pit crew tire changer takes home a salary of about $1500 with a $300 bonus if they win. Their yearly salary may come up to $80,000, which is incredible. Every unit comes with two tire changers.

How much does a rear tire changer get paid in NASCAR? ›

A typical NASCAR Pit Crew member starts from a salary of $500 for the day for doing the duties of a Utilityman. Then comes the Tire Changer and Carrier duos, who can earn $1500 each, with a winning bonus of around $300. This makes their early earnings in the ballpark of $80,000.

How much does a set of tires cost in NASCAR? ›

Which do you prefer? Each tire can cost anywhere from $350-$500, with race teams using up to 16 sets of tires in a typical weekend. If one was to do the math, NASCAR teams would spend around $20,000 per weekend just on tires.

What was the worst car racing disaster? ›

Accounts put the death toll at 80 to 84 (spectators plus Levegh), either by flying debris or from the fire, with a further 120 to 178 injured. Other observers estimated the toll to be much higher. It has remained the most catastrophic crash in motorsport history.

Has there ever been a NASCAR race where no one crashed? ›

The "big one" is never far from this track. But, there have been some races where the big wreck never occurred. In fact, on three separate occasions, Talladega completed a 500-mile race and the caution flag never flew for any reason. The first time was in 1997.

What is the biggest race in NASCAR history? ›

The Daytona 500 is the biggest race annually on the NASCAR calendar.

Do NASCAR cars have AC? ›

DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, Fla. – NASCAR drivers have no air conditioning and spend hours on a hot racetrack behind a burning engine. Keeping racecar drivers cool isn't an option but making sure they don't overheat and consume enough calories is as close as they'll get if they want to win the championship.

Do NASCAR drivers listen to music while racing? ›

Do NASCAR Drivers Listen To Music During Races? In NASCAR, drivers do not listen to music while they drive. The sport of NASCAR requires the absolute focus of drivers, who want to win the race while keeping each other safe.

Why do NASCAR drivers go through the window? ›

Because there are no doors on the cars, drivers climb in through the window. The black window net keeps limbs in and debris out.


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