Boone Speedway is an intermediate road racecourse in North Carolina that is part of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. From the outside, the speedway looks like just a small gravel pit surrounded by some trailers and a wooden fence. But, inside, it’s a totally different story. The speedway is big enough to hold a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race every year, and the entire facility is built on a grid system so that every inch of space can be used. In fact, if the wooden fence surrounding the speedway wasn’t there, the entire thing would likely take up more than an acre of land.
The History Of The Speedway
The history of the Boone Speedway dates back to 1922 when John Y. Sanders began building the first paved oval in North Carolina named after him. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, the speedway hosted a number of important races, including the First Interstate Speedway Conference which was attended by more than 30,000 spectators at the time. This was the precursor to the modern day Winston Cup that we know today (the original version featured only the elites of NASCAR and had no fans). In the early 1930s, the paved oval was redesigned into its current configuration as a quarter-mile track with 14 degrees of banking in both directions.
The Modern Day Winston Cup Series
The modern day version of the legendary Winston Cup started in 1933 and is named after its famed founder, Henry Ford II. The first race was held at the end of June and featured 12 drivers (although two of them were no-shows). The following month, the track hosted another race which was won by Gayle McGill. In 1934, the series expanded to 24 races with the addition of the legendary Dodge Main Event which was attended by more than 30,000 people and featured B.F. Goodrich as the title sponsor.
In 1935, an important race in the series was moved to Indianapolis due to the Ohio State Racing Commission taking issue with the fact that many drivers in the series were traveling across the state line to compete.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was formed in 1986 as a merger between the Winston Cup Series and the International Cup Series. The first race of the new series was held on November 16, 1986, with the inaugural event at the brand-new Michigan International Speedway attracting a crowd of more than 70,000 people. Since then, the series has expanded to 36 races held across the country and an estimated 2.9 million spectators have attended the races.
The series currently features top tier drivers and teams from around the world, with the average purse being nearly $5 million. As well, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is one of the most popular racing series among adults aged 25-54, with 28% of the audience being in that age bracket.
Future Of The Speedway
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR postponed the remaining races of the season. But, even before the pandemic, the future of the Boone Speedway looked uncertain. The speedway experienced a 70% decline in ticket sales in 2020 and the team was forced to make hard decisions. One of the drivers who had a car prepared for the season – but was unable to race due to the pandemic – was Chase Elliot. The 24 year old NASCAR rookie was the first one to comment on social media about what was going on at the speedway. “I’m heartbroken for all those involved at #BooneSpeedway. Never thought this would happen. This place is amazing and I love everything about it. Thanks for everything, everyone,” he tweeted in March.
Although it would have been amazing to see Chase Elliot race at the speedway, there are still plenty of opportunities for the young driver to race somewhere else. The team will continue to try and find a home for Elliot down the road.
The future of the Boone Speedway also depends on the decisions made by Speedway Motorsports, the owner of the speedway. The team could decide to sell the track, remove all the seating, and turn the place into a holding tank for some other motorsport series (in a similar fashion to the old Iowa Hawkeye Powe Farm that currently hosts auto racing every summer). Or, they could decide to keep the speedway as-is and look for some other form of entertainment (like a movie theatre or a casino).
The last word goes to legendary driver Bob Harkey who won the inaugural race at the Michigan International Speedway in 1986. When asked about the future of the Boone Speedway he said: “I haven’t given it much thought. All I know is that whatever happens, happens for the best. You can’t make predictions. You only do the best you can, and whatever happens, happens for the best. It’s still early in the year, and a lot can happen.”