Orlando Speedway is one of the largest motorsport venues in the world. Situated in Orlando, Florida, the speedway is home to the International Speedway Corporation (ISC), and features grandstands that can hold up to 200,000 people. Constructed in 1960, the iconic speedway has been home to numerous motorsport events and is known for its eclectic mix of cars. Here are just some of the statistics you might not know about the largest motorsport venue in the world.
The Biggest Grandstand In The World
The grandstand at Orlando Speedway is an iconic American structure that has stood the test of time. Designed by the iconic architect E. W. Howe and constructed in 1960, the concrete-and-steel-framed grandstand is 162 feet high and can hold up to 200,000 people. It is also the biggest of its kind in the world. The grandstands at other venues might be higher, but they are mostly made of steel and have limited views due to security restrictions. The concrete and steel at Orlando speedway give it a light and airy feel that makes it stand out above its counterparts.
The Biggest Venue In The United States
The grandstand at Orlando Speedway is the biggest in the United States, followed by the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and Fox Stadium in Philadelphia. With a seating capacity of 200,000, it is easily within touching distance of the 300 million-plus people that inhabit the country. Not only is it the largest in the United States, but it is also one of the largest venues in the world. The other two stadiums are currently owned by the same company that owns the Orlando Speedway, and they are all linked by a common roof structure. The Atlanta dome and the Philadelphia stadium share the same ownership and have a seating capacity of 55,000 and 65,000, respectively. In comparison, the Orlando Speedway has a seating capacity of 200,000 and is 162 feet high.
Home To The International Speedway Corporation (ISC)
Owned by the International Speedway Corporation (ISC), the largest motorsport venue in the world is also home to the governing body that governs motorsport in the United States. Inaugurated in 1959, the ISC is responsible for organizing the Daytona International Speedway, which is located in Florida, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is located in Indiana. In addition to these two motorsport venues, the ISC is responsible for the construction and upkeep of many other racetracks across the country. Furthermore, it owns numerous hotels and attractions along with the grandstands at the two premier racing venues. On top of all that, the ISC is responsible for sanctioning NASCAR and IndyCar racing. It sets the policies for both series and enforces them through its affiliated tracks. As the governing body for motorsport in the United States, the ISC sets the rules for everything from how pit crews must act, to what size fuel tank is allowed, and how many overtakes are permitted before a driver is considered to be “driving recklessly.” The only way to understand the sheer volume of the organization is to read its website; however, even then, the sheer volume might still surprise you.
The Largest Venue In North America
While the grandstands at the premier race tracks in the United States are popular topics, it is important to point out that the largest venue to see motorsport in the continental United States is actually located in Canada. Constructed in 1966, the Olympic Stadium in Montreal is officially described as the “largest domed structure in the world,” due to its distinctive design and futuristic appearance. The 80,000-seater has a distinct gold color that was inspired by the shape of the Olympic rings. It was built for the 1976 Olympic Games and has seen some incredible motorsport moments over the years. The most recent was the 24 Hours Of Daytona in 2017, which was won by the American team with a record-breaking 24 hours of continuous racing. The previous year, the Canadian drivers dominated the race with a 1-2-3 finish that saw them collect $16.3 million in prize money.
The Largest Venue In The Western Hemisphere
The largest venue in the Western Hemisphere is located in Mexico City and is officially called the Estadio Azteca. Opened in 1953 and designed by the famous Mexican architect I. M. Pei, the 102,000-seater has a distinctive yellow and blue color scheme and is among the most recognizable sports venues in the world. One of the most memorable moments at the Azteca was when a driver named Gonzalo Rodríguez ascended the driver’s seat during an exhibition race and unfurled an enormous Mexican flag on the podium. The crowd went wild and gave the famous Mexican beer maker a standing ovation. Nowadays, the stadium is used mostly for football (soccer) matches, but it still hosts major motorsport events such as the annual Formula One Grand Prix.
North America’s Largest Outdoor Venue
In the Western Hemisphere, Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca holds the title of North America’s largest outdoor venue, but one could make an argument that the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, is also quite deserving of that title. Nicknamed the “Jewel Of The New World,” the Georgia Dome is a multipurpose stadium that is used mostly for football (soccer) games, but it features a retractable roof that could be opened up for major motorsport events. In 1999, the Georgia Dome hosted the NCAA football championships, which is considered a major sporting event. The stadium features a seating capacity of 70,000 spectators and also offers premium seating for about 5000 people. As a result of its incredible size and shape, the Georgia Dome is sometimes described as looking like a UFO landed there.
Europe’s Largest Venue
The Georgia Dome isn’t the only American structure found in Europe, as Philadelphia’s Franklin Field also falls under that category. Opened in 1890 and named after founding father Benjamin Franklin, the 127-year-old American structure still hosts major events such as the NFL and Major League Baseball (MLB). Franklin Field is located in the heart of Philly and has a capacity of 62,000 spectators. The stadium’s distinctive horseshoe design is credited with saving the life of a famous Princeton football player named Lawrence “Tiger” Babbit. In 1934, Babbit suffered a near-fatal car accident at the hands of a college football rival. After the game, he was laid up in bed with severe head injuries. One night, as fate would have it, Franklin Field’s president Richard J. Newman was visiting Babbit in his sickbed. Seeing Babbit’s battered condition, Newman stepped out to the hall and began pounding on the door, begging to be let in. Without thinking, Babbit reached out and grabbed a handful of Newman’s hair, pulling him right into the bedroom. The door swung open, and while Babbit could have killed Newman with his bare hands, he quickly recovered and released him. Today, the stadium still hosts major events such as the NCAA college football championship game and the Major League Soccer All-Star game.
The Largest Venue In Australasia
The southern part of the country is home to one of the biggest venues in all of Australasia. Located in the Queen City of Melbourne, Australia, the MCG (also known as the “Gabba”) is an international-standard sports stadium that is built on the site of the 1888 Melbourne Cup. Despite its name, the Melbourne Cricket Club’s stadium is not only used for cricket matches; it is also home to the AFL (Australia’s premier football league). The MCG has an incredible seating capacity of 89,000 and is one of the world’s best stadiums for motorcycle racing. It is also the largest concrete structure in the world.
On the other side of the planet, we have the iconic Wembley Stadium in London. Opened in 1905, the 127-year-old stadium was designed by the English architect Sir John W. Blundell and has been the home of the NFL (American football) since 1923. As well as being the headquarters of the NFL London, Wembley Stadium is also the largest military barracks in Europe. With a capacity of 92,000, the stadium has seen its share of upsets over the years, with England’s WWII victory over Germany in 1940 being one of the highlights. Since then, England’s soccer teams have also triumphed, with the most recent World Cup victory coming in 2018.