How Big Is Delaware Speedway? [Updated!]

You may be familiar with the Indianapolis 500, the legendary race that takes place every May in Indiana. Just a few hours drive from where you live, you’ll find a similar yet completely different racing spectacle – the Dover International Speedway. If you’ve never been there, here’s a short guide to help you understand what makes the NASCAR Hall of Fame circuit so special.

The History

The history of Dover International Speedway is as rich as that of any other major sporting arena. Opened in 1967, the 1.5-mile asphalt oval immediately drew hundreds of thousands of spectators, including many who made the two-hour drive from New York City alone. Though it’s a relatively small track by today’s standards, Dover is considered by many to be the motherland of NASCAR.

The name Dover International Speedway evokes memories of the great Geoffrey B. “Gabby” Dawes, who owned and operated the speedway from its inception until his death in 1980. According to legend, before he died, Dawes promised his family that he would be racing in the Indianapolis 500 until he reached the age of 90. It was a family affair, with cousins, nieces, and nephews keeping the family legacy alive.

The first 500 miles of asphalt were opened to the public in 1967 and underwent several expansion projects in the following decades, most notably the addition of the Ocean Downs-style casino. The most visible of these expansions is the grandstands that now line the entire circumference of the track.

The Layout

Unlike most other sports venues, Dover doesn’t have a singular home straight. Instead, it has two separate straights – a primary straight (which is three and a half miles long) and a secondary straight (which is one mile long). When a NASCAR driver is pushing for a win, the entire track is put in play, as there are no off-tracks on which to stash the field.

What’s more are the long, gradual banked turns that make up the majority of the track. The corners are so wide that you can fit an entire tractor trailer parked in the middle of the turn! As with most other sporting venues, the frontstretch is the longest part of the track, while the backstretch is the shortest. This is largely due to the fact that NASCAR drivers prefer the frontstretch as it gives them better racing speeds.

The Infrastructure

Dover International Speedway is not only famous for being the birthplace of NASCAR, but it also boasts one of the best infrastructures of any sporting facility in the world. Besides the track, the facility also includes the Ocean Downs-style casino and the Delaware Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1992 and holds over 60,000 people.

The track itself is maintained to FIFA standards, which require an annual investment of over US$400,000. The lighting system was upgraded a few years ago, so the track doesn’t have to turn on the lights halfway through the race just to ensure a good viewing experience.

The Environments

Dover International Speedway is located in a picturesque region of Delaware and has impeccable views of the surrounding countryside. Its location at the mouth of the harbor makes for some fantastic sunset spots and wildlife-viewing opportunities. Visiting the track during the summer months is highly recommended as the weather is ideal and you’re sure to catch some breathtaking sunsets!

The entire facility is completely handicapped accessible, with ample parking, wide shoulders, and special signage guiding you to the appropriate areas.

The Excitement

As mentioned above, the Indianapolis 500 is probably the most recognizable name in world sport. It was first held in 1911 and has since gone on to become one of the four most prestigious races of the year, along with the others being the Kentucky Derby, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and the American Grand Prix. This is in addition to being the only IndyCar race where a 500-mile journey doesn’t feel like a waste of time.

One of the main reasons why the Indianapolis 500 has been so successful is that of the many different events that it hosts, it is the only one that continues from one day to the next. Others are one-off fixtures that take place on specific dates, which is why they don’t necessarily offer the same level of excitement. Even other “bigger” races, such as the Kentucky Derby and the American Grand Prix, are held over a two-day period because there aren’t enough seats in the stadium for everyone who wants to attend.

Dover International Speedway is a true gem among sporting venues. While the Indianapolis 500 marks the beginning of the summer racing season, you can start the countdown to the 100th running of the Daytona 500 in early February!

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