If you’ve ever driven through Knoxville, Tennessee, then you must have gotten a pretty good feeling for the size of the place. With its bustling streets and traffic lights, it almost feels like a small city. But, let me ask you – how big is Knoxville really?
To find out, I did a little investigating and discovered that the famous 1.863-mile oval track is actually quite a small park compared to some of the other major racetracks around the country. Here’s a look at how Knoxville compares to other American racetracks.
Knoxville vs. The Grand National Road Course
You’ll often hear people refer to the old Knoxville Fairgrounds as the “little oval” or the “little mile,” but it’s probably best described as the “little park.” The 1.863-mile paved oval track was actually built on top of a fairground that was first opened in 1913. Over the years, the track has undergone some renovations, but it has never been expanded. For more than a century, the Knoxville track was the pride of the community, hosting some of the country’s biggest names in auto racing. Today, the track still hosts local events such as the Summer Olympics Trials and a weekly NASCAR series. Even during the off-season, the track is still used for amateur events and special ceremonies. It is definitely one of the most iconic tracks in American motorsport.
However, the track isn’t the only thing the town is known for. Knoxville is also home to the University of Tennessee, which is one of the most prestigious universities in the country. It’s actually ranked ninth in the world, and its athletic teams – the Volunteers – are also extremely successful. The university’s football stadium, Neypark, is considered one of the greatest venues in college football. The campus also houses the Arnold Sports Festival, which is an annual multi-sport event that is considered the Olympics of sports in America. The weekend-long festival features competitions such as soccer, softball, tennis, and field hockey.
So it’s clear that Knoxville is more than just a track. The town has a rich history in both sports and academics, which is what makes it such an interesting destination for visitors. It’s no wonder that so many people call the place “The Mecca of stock car racing.”
Knoxville vs. The Brickyard
There’s another iconic American racetrack that Knoxville can be compared to, and many people probably know it as the place where the Indy 500 is held every year. Although the 2.385-mile oval track in Indianapolis is a bit larger than the little park in Knoxville, it’s essentially the same thing: a famous track built on the location of a former racing fairground. The first leg of the Indy 500 was held there back in 1914, and it’s been the home of the championship ever since. In addition to the Indy 500, the track also hosted the World 600, which was one of NASCAR’s premier races until the 1950s.
Like the Knoxville oval, the Indianapolis road course was also built on top of a former racing track. In this case, it was a horse racing track that was active from 1910 to 1950. However, unlike the Knoxville track, the 2.385-mile oval in Indianapolis was built entirely using bricks from the site. The bricks were used to create a pattern on the track that vaguely resembles a barn. The horseshoe pattern that used to be on the track is now on the facade of the historic Brickyard Crossing apartment complex, which was built in 1912 and still has a few horses roaming its halls today.
Indy and Brickyard are both popular destinations for tourists, which goes to show you how much these tracks mean to people. Even when they’re not being used for racing, the grounds are still packed with fans and people who just want to catch a glimpse of their favorite driver.
New Britain vs. Indianapolis
One of the most storied sports venues in the United States is the Wrigley Field, which is located in Chicago. The ivy-covered historic ballpark was opened in 1914 and is one of the country’s most-loved sports destinations. Many people also know it as the place where the Chicago Cubs play their home games. Even when the baseball season is over, the field still draws large crowds because it’s such a memorable spot.
Another well-known sporting facility is Fenway Park in Boston, where the home games of the Boston Red Sox are held. The ballpark opened in 1912 and is one of the most iconic sports venues in America. In addition to hosting baseball, college football, and soccer matches, the 127-year-old park also hosts the Boston Marathon each April. The road course winds its way around the outfield of the park and is lined with television stations and press members from around the world. If you happen to be in Boston during the month of April, then you should definitely make it a point to visit these iconic sports venues.
Although you might expect a comparison to be made between the Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, the two venues have very little in common. The Chicago ballpark is actually located in the southwest suburb of Chicago, while the Boston park is in the city. In fact, it’s been called “America’s best-kept secret” because it’s so well-hidden. Fenway’s location was determined by the needs of the early 20th century, when the park was built. Back then, downtown Boston was a dangerous place to be at night, so the owners of the park decided to build a suburban escape for the city’s residents.
St. Louis vs. New York
Moving east, we reach the Gateway Arch, a.k.a. “the bean” or “the most beautiful arch you’ll ever see.” The monument to St. Louis’ love for cars was built in 1969 and is a striking piece of modern architecture. Tourists often flock to the site to take selfies with the Arch, especially on sunny days. It stands at the entrance to the city, welcoming motorists and pedestrians to Missouri’s capital city. The arch draws plenty of visitors even when there are no cars racing nearby.
Just across the river to the east is the Midtown Tunnel, which is attached to the New York State Fairgrounds. Opened in 1919, the Midtown Tunnel connects the Bronx with New York City. Since its inception, the facility has been a hub for motorsport activities in the area, as well as a vital link in carrying people and goods to and from New York City. The Tunnel continues to play an important role in the region’s transportation, serving as the primary access point to the New York Central Railroad, which operates a variety of services from here to the city. The railroad’s offices are located on the lower level of the tunnel, next to one of its roundhouses. Even if you’re not into cars, the New York State Fairgrounds have something for everyone, including baseball, soccer, and hockey fans!
Finally, we reach the Pacific Ocean, and the Los Angeles International Airport. The famous Hollywood sign, which was turned into a museum in 2012, is a lasting testament to the city’s love of film. Tourists flock to the site in droves, snapping selfies and spending hours just taking in the view. It doesn’t get any more LA than this!
The airport is actually quite close to the sign, making it the sixth-closest airport to Los Angeles. The sleek facility, designed by prominent American architect Frank Gehry, opened in 1998 and was an instant success, drawing lots of travelers and becoming the hub of the Pacific Rim. In fact, the airport has been expanded several times since its inception, adding more gates, more restaurants, and more shops. Even when there are no flights departing, there’s still plenty going on at the airport, as it is home to the American Institute of Stress, which offers workshops and counseling for travelers who struggle with anxiety. Los Angeles International Airport also hosts lots of charity events throughout the year, particularly during the holiday season, which draws even more visitors.
So, how much do all of these venues weigh in comparison to each other? The comparison shows that Indy and the Brickyard are the largest tracks, while New Britain, St. Louis, and New York all rank below them. The smallest track, Knoxville, is actually the same size as the Indianapolis oval, which isn’t that small!