On May 17, 2017, a new NASCAR Monster Energy Series race will be held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. The name of the race is now officially I-80 Speedway (formerly known as the Carolina Rebellion) and the track will use the same styling as the Charlotte Motor Speedway but with a more traditional stock car feel. The track has also incorporated a few other track elements like an uphill start/finish line and a tri-oval to make the overall racing experience a little different. How big is I 80 Speedway? Let’s take a quick look.
The track length of I 80 Speedway is 4,800 feet with the same number of turns and straightaways. If you took a lap around the track, it would be a relatively short lap compared to other NASCAR races because there is almost no standing still on the track. For example, the cars are constantly changing speed and drafting (passing cars in front) in order to set a fast lap time. Therefore, it takes less than five minutes to complete a lap around the track.
Turns & Windshields
There are 19 turns (14 right, five left) on I 80 Speedway. The corner workers are also working overtime because the cars are constantly coming in for a fresh angle and they have to adjust accordingly. Like at other NASCAR venues, there is no such thing as a slow corner on the track. The corners are extremely sharp and it is very rare for a car to not gain enough speed entering a turn to leave the corner with a positive speed differential.
The outside windshield should protect the driver from the whipping wind that comes from outside the track (turning you into a flying insect). Since the track layout is similar to that of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, it would make sense that the track would use the same type of windshield there. However, the winds at I 80 Speedway are more unpredictable and that is why the track designers decided to use a different type of windshield there (pictured above). The inside windshield acts as a visual barrier between the driver and fellow car passengers while also protecting them from flying debris and bugs (thankfully, there are no electronic devices on the dashboard in these days of safety first).
Fog is a tricky one. Although there is not always fog at the track, the weather conditions at I 80 Speedway (and other NASCAR venues, such as the Daytona Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway) can take its toll on the driving experience. The cold air outside makes its way inside the cars and it can be cold and damp inside (and it gets pretty muggy too). For the best experience, you want the track to be perfectly done and if possible, have a bit of fog to roll in when the laps are done. Unfortunately, this is one aspect of the race that cannot be controlled even by the organizers. All they can do is try their best to ensure that the conditions are as good as possible for the drivers.
Starting Line & Finishing Line
The starting line and finishing line for I 80 Speedway are identical to those at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. This is due in part to the fact that the track is situated on an ex-military base (Fort Mill) and the organizers did not want to disrupt the natural flow of traffic at the entrance and exit of the base. However, the starting line and finishing line are not the only elements that are shared with the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Four of the turns at I 80 Speedway are banked (helped by the elevation changes) and one is grassy. The goal is to have a blend of asphalt and concrete to give you that traditional NASCAR vibe while still staying true to the roots of the sport.
The racing strip at I 80 Speedway is black with a white top. This is a remnant of the old timers’ (like myself) era when the racing strip was actually painted on the track. These days, they are usually vinyl or tarpaulin strips that are fastened to the track’s concrete surface. The white paint on the top of the strip is applied only after the car races so the white color does not wear off during the day. This allows the color change to remain for the entire duration of the race. The paint job on the top of the strip is applied by hand by workers in the middle of the night so that it does not get wet during the day. The strip looks much better with a clean, dry surface and it helps the cars make the right visual impact when flying by at high speeds.
The Finish Line
The finish line for I 80 Speedway is in the shape of a semi-circle and it runs the length of the track. This is to accommodate the fact that the cars do not come in for a traditional green flag finish but rather, there is a series of checkered flags along the back straightaway. As the cars come into the finish line for the last time, there is a moment of silence as the drivers and organizers take a moment to reflect on the race and its results. The race organizers will then present the winners with their trophies and give the command for the car decks to be cleared so that the track can be prepared for the next day’s activities.
I think that is enough for now. I hope that I was able to provide enough information about what is I 80 Speedway. More details can be found in the link below. Have fun at the race and please try and make some pit stops. We all love a good pit stop!