Many fans of the American motorsport have been eagerly anticipating the upcoming 2019 racing season, already being dubbed by some as the “year of the weird” due to a plethora of one-of-a-kind events that are lined up on the dirt track racing schedule.
One such event is the Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) DoubleHeader Weekend, where the world’s longest dirt track will again host two NASCAR races back-to-back on Saturday September 28th and Sunday September 29th.
This year, the track will be expanding its boundaries, measuring in at 473.967 kilometres – nearly three times the size of a traditional oval track! Not only that, but the track will be taking a step up in terms of difficulty by adding a section of intermediate corners.
Here, we will explore the track’s transformation and the changes that will affect fans and participants alike.
The Biggest Dirt Track Yet
Last year, the track laid down a temporary grandstand to accommodate the expected bumper mob of people attending the two-day event. However, with the pandemic having reduced the number of motorsport fans in the country, the plans were changed and the temporary structure was unused. Nevertheless, the track continued to grow, adding more dirt and preparing for the upcoming season.
This year, with more time to prepare, TMS has once again expanded, adding a third night of racing (on Saturday instead of Sunday) and an additional intermediate section, which will host several races throughout the year.
To put this year’s changes into perspective, here are some figures to consider:
Total Circuit Length:
The total length of the Texas Motor Speedway dirt track is now 9.8km (compared to 7.9km for a standard oval track). Moreover, the track will host two races on Saturday and one race on Sunday, which essentially makes it a five-night-racing event. This is a major change from last year, when there were only two night of racing due to bad weather conditions on certain nights of the year (November and December).
One of the reasons why the track’s length has grown so much is because the seating capacity has increased from 100,000 to 160,000 – a rise of about 60%. It’s the same story for the infield, which has grown from 50,000 to 100,000 seats – a rise of about 60%. These are some pretty big changes, considering that the track previously had a capacity of around 70,000 seats and was considered a “small” dirt track. Moreover, the track has not only added more seats but it has also completely revamped the entire spectator experience. This will be discussed in more detail below.
The track’s surface has also been changed, featuring a new polymer crown that will make the track feel more like a real dirt track than ever before. This is in addition to new light green and dark green paint for the track’s edges and medians, respectively. These details alone make a world of difference and they will certainly appeal to fans who have been longing for a “traditional” oval track experience again.
As for the bikes, because of its length, the track will be hosting several motorcycle races this year as well. This means that if you’re looking to make some cash, you can register your bike for one of the several events or enter a qualifying round in one of the many motorcycle racing series that will be taking place at TMS this year. This is also a great way to discover the longest dirt track in America, as the name might suggest, with participants hailing from all over the world.
This year, the track will also be getting an all-new grandstand, which will add a touch of modernity to the already modern-day motorsport stadium. Moreover, special attention is being given to the bathrooms, as this is where most people will be spending the majority of the night, which is also when the track is at its most crowded. The construction of the new bathrooms is already 70% complete and they will feature glass walls for the ladies’ and men’s rooms, so you can literally watch as you turn. Naturally, this is also a great place for families to linger, as there is plenty of room to roam around and take a break from the fast-paced action on the track. This is one place where you can really feel the difference in size compared to last year, as the new bathrooms will accommodate up to 8,000 people in total, making them much more spacious than the old ones (designed for around 4,000 people).
Even the food choices are altered to fit the new era. There will be a vegetarian option for the first time at TMS, as well as a kids’ corner, serving soft drinks, which parents can enjoy after the races. Naturally, with more time to prepare and a longer track, there are bound to be changes. The most prominent change is that the two nights of racing will now begin at 6 p.m. instead of noon, in order to make the best of the available sunlight. Last but not least, the most avid fans will be able to access the track for free on the first night of the event, as TMS will re-open its gates to the public at 5:30 p.m. on Friday September 27th, almost an hour before the first race starts. This will make it easier for fans to get a good spot and follow the action, as they did with the NASCAR races from 1958 to 1967, when the gates were opened to the public right at the beginning of practice.
This is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times in the history of the track, as the longest dirt track in the world is about to be unveiled and fans can begin flocking to TMS, eager to see what all the noise is about.