How Big Is Atlanta Motor Speedway? [Updated!]

Inevitably, when you mention Atlanta Motor Speedway, the name of Richard Petty immediately comes to mind. He is widely considered to be the greatest race car driver of all time. Since his passing in 1978, the famous raceway has remained unchanged. Today, it is located in the center of the city. Nevertheless, with the ever-changing world of technology, it is important to know how big the raceway actually is.

The Track Is Big

With a quarter of a million cubic feet of concrete, a 24-turn rubber track, and an approximate distance of a mile and a half, the Atlanta Motor Speedway truly is an astonishing feat of modern engineering. The track was designed by renowned architect Arthur Gensler and opened for motor racing in October 1966. In its time, it has been the venue for many famous motorsport events. It is currently one of the few remaining concrete racetracks in existence.

On the other side of the pond, the Isle of man is home to the famous motorcycle Grand Prix. Known officially as the Manx Grand Prix, the race has been held there since 1928 and is currently one of the biggest motorcycle festivals in the world. The Isle of man is not a part of the United Kingdom and therefore does not get credit for the Manx Grand Prix. Nevertheless, everyone knows that it is run on the other side of the pond.

Stands And Seats

Even though the track itself is impressive, it is the grandstands and the seats that make the Atlanta Motor Speedway truly unique. For starters, the seats are in the shape of an “H”. This stands for “Heart”, the nickname of the two brothers who founded the track. They wanted to give the spectators something personal to relate to. Other than that, the seating arrangements are unique as well. This is mainly thanks to Gensler’s innovative use of cement and steel. Concrete was largely unknown as a construction material back then, but Gensler was undeterred.

There are actually four “runways” at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Three of these runways are on the inside of the track and are used for the main events. The other one is on the outside and serves as a secondary runway for the sprint cars and other sports cars. This is why the H-shaped grandstands are so fitting. They literally turn the spectators’ hearts and minds to the track. In addition to that, one of the four stands is an “overhead” stand, which provides an unprecedented view of the entire track and the action from above.

The Scoreboard

The last but not the least remarkable aspect of the track is the scoreboard. It stands for Sportscare Incorporated and is made up of four large, video screens. These screens display various information about the race and the spectators can follow the action from all four screens using a single, wireless remote control. There is also a fifth screen located on the outside of one of the stands that displays information about upcoming races and draws a lot of attention itself.

As an engineer, Gensler was well aware of the potential for technology to streamline sports and made sure that the scoreboard was planned from the very beginning. Since its invention, the electronic scoreboard has proven to be quite the triumph and has simplified the task of keeping score considerably. Back in the day, it was all done manually and writing down the scores on little pieces of paper.

Although the track was designed to be used for motorsport events, it has not always been so. The Atlanta Motor Speedway originally opened its gates to the public on August 30, 1966, for an exhibition baseball game between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates. That was the first time that the track hosted an exhibition game and it was actually quite an event. It was attended by 35,000 spectators and featured a sold-out crowd rooting for their hometown teams. The Mets won the game 3-2 and afterward, the teams and their fans took a victory lap around the track. Today, the Atlanta Motor Speedway remains a significant hub for motorsport in the United States.

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