How Big Is Anderson Motor Speedway? [Expert Guide!]

Anderson Motor Speedway is named after the legendary J.C. “Anders” Anderson and is located in Anderson, SC. It’s a 1.5-mile oval that was originally constructed in 1937 and is still raced at every year since its inception. It hosted the first NASCAR Grand National race in 1939 (the equivalent of today’s Sprint Cup Series) and has seen many famous names in the sport’s history grace its racing surface including Richard Petty, Buddy Holly, and even Richard Nixon!

This year is the 75th anniversary of Anderson Motor Speedway and the tradition continues with an exciting NASCAR race schedule set for the 2018 season. In this article, we will go over some interesting facts about Anderson Motor Speedway.

First RacedAs The Most Famous Short Track In NASCAR History

The first ever NASCAR race took place at Anderson Speedway on May 9, 1939. It was the inaugural running of the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers against the New York Giants. Thankfully, the first half of the race went without a hitch and the field of cars was even larger than expected due to some heavy rains in the area not long before the race. What is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series made its debut at Anderson Motor Speedway that year as well. The inaugural race was won by Floyd Wallace while the Panthers defeated the Giants 17–7.

Wallace would go on to win the championship that year and every year after that, including an unbeaten 1949 season, capturing the imagination of fans and competitors alike. The legendary car owner “Red” Lewis said of him, “He was a phenomenal talent and had the physical ability to be the best. He was a complete racer and could drive any car well.” The fact that Wallace went on to win a championship while competing at such a small track shows how much the sport grew in the years following its inception.

In the ensuing decades, Anderson Speedway became one of the most famous short tracks in NASCAR history. The 2.5-mile layout saw many famous names pass through its gates, including seven World Champions, and it gained a reputation as one of the most competitive short tracks in the country. It also hosted the Winston Million (now the Chili Bowl) an open-wheel race that is considered the World Championship of its kind. The track also played host to the prestigious All-Star Race in the 1970s, attracting some of the biggest names in American motorsport.

Over 40 Years Of Regular Racing

Since its inception, Anderson Motor Speedway has been a fixture on the NASCAR calendar. The track regularly hosts annual races as part of the South Carolina Tourism website, drawing in large crowds from around the world each year. In fact, some of the most notable races that took place at Anderson included the following:

  • 1959: The 15th Annual Floodlight Dodge Challenge (previously the Southern 500)
  • 1970: The 22nd Annual Grand National Road Rage (previously the Grand National Rodeo)
  • 1974: The 2nd Annual Winston Million (now the Chili Bowl)
  • 1979: The 10th Annual All-Star Race (previously the All-American 500)
  • 1983: The 11th Annual All-Star Race and the World 600 (previously the World 600)
  • 1986: The 17th Annual All-Star Race (previously the All-American 500)
  • 1995: The 18th Annual All-Star Race (previously the All-American 500)
  • 1999: The Grand National (previously the Grand National Bicycle Racing Festival)
  • 2002: The Carolina RailHawks (NASCAR team) inaugural match against the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (MLS team)
  • 2012: The 35th Anniversary of the Winston Million (now the Chili Bowl)
  • 2015: The 50th Anniversary of the Winston Million (now the Chili Bowl)

NASCAR’s First Home Park

While racing at one of the country’s most famous short tracks, Wallace amassed an impressive array of wins. He won the championship in five of the seven seasons that he competed at Anderson and is fifth on the all-time wins list with 56 victories. His impressive record at such a small track earned him the nickname of “The Wizard of Oz” and cemented his stature as one of NASCAR’s most legendary competitors. Today, his statue stands outside of the track’s grandstand as a testament to his phenomenal achievements.

Of course, it wasn’t just Wallace who won at Anderson. The track’s first surface was undoubtedly dirt, and crews had to use tractors to tear down the grandstands after each race. During World War II, the track was shut down for nearly two years and it wasn’t until 1948 that a concrete surface was laid down at Anderson. That same year, the track was expanded to 2.5 miles and in 1950, permanent lighting was installed. The following year, the track became known as “Neosho Speedway” in honor of the track’s original owner “Doc” Neosho. In 1975, the track reverted to its original name and has been known as “Anderson Motor Speedway” ever since.

It’s been a long road for Anderson Motor Speedway and it continues to be a mainstay on the NASCAR calendar today. It’s not just a track, it’s become a community as well that hosts everything from pre-race festivities to “wish-making” for the competitors on the track. This season, the 75th anniversary of the legendary track, kicks off on Saturday, May 12th with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Clash, an Xfinity Series race that is the first of four events scheduled for the year.

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