The year was 1998. Summer had arrived and with it came the promise of outdoor adventure and excitement. Kids had returned to school, and parents had more time to themselves. Friday night lights illuminated the warm summer evenings, encouraging families to get out and about and enjoy the beautiful weather. For many, it was a welcome relief from the stressors of daily life. This undoubtedly was the inspiration for the creation of one of NASCAR’s most beloved tracks – Monroe Speedway. Situated just outside of Atlanta, the sport’s fourth largest city, it was originally a quarter-mile go-cart track before the paved pathway was added in 1982.
Families with young children undoubtedly relished the opportunity to take a short break from their busy schedules, while others looked forward to the opportunity to indulge in a passion that they previously only experienced during the winter months. For many, the track represented a golden opportunity to watch some high-speed motorsports – a sport that they had previously only experienced during the winter months.
The opening weekend of the 2018 season was met with torrential rain, which resulted in many delays and a lot of racing action that went awry. However, even in the most adverse of conditions, the fans that lined the streets outside of the track would have been proud to witness one of the greatest traditions in American motorsport.
The cars that are allowed to race at Monroe Speedway have to adhere to a strict set of guidelines. They need to be between the ages of three and ten, and their speed needs to be under a certain limit. In addition, they cannot be registered, insured, or licensed in any way that would allow them to be raced. Finally, they cannot have more than four wheels.
If these parameters seem a little stringent, do not worry – you can always drive a Go-Kart. Or better yet, you can rent one from a reputable company near the track. It is the perfect solution for those that want to enjoy the excitement of racing without the responsibility of driving. It may also be a good option for older children that want to have a go at driving but do not want to take on the responsibility of a fully equipped vehicle.
The History Of The Speedway
One of the most exciting things about the speedway is its rich history. Originally named North Alabama Motorsports Park, it originally opened its doors in 1958 and was one of the first paved and lited oval tracks in the country. The first grandstand was built in 1960 and was dedicated to former NASCAR driver Bill Harley. In 1962, it was renamed in honor of the late Sam “Pistol” Jones, a member of the 1958 racing team that won the first NASCAR Grand National Series. The following season, its name was officially changed to its current form, though it has always been popularly known as just “Monroe Speedway.”
The track has always been a place where families can come together and socialize. It became a regular site for children’s birthday parties, school trips, and other similar gatherings. In fact, the track’s slogan – “Where Kids, Families, And Friends Meet” – is more than self-explanatory.
How Does The Track Relate To Today’s NASCAR?
Many will argue that today’s NASCAR is directly derived from the successful formula implemented at Monroe Speedway. In 1963, just two years after it was first built, a group of business men and community leaders gathered to discuss the formation of a new motorsport organization called the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). One of the leaders at the meeting was Ralph Wicks, who had previously served as the track’s publicity director and ticket manager. Wicks had also raced cars on the track during its early years, and he felt that the track could be the perfect location for a new racing organization. He immediately became one of the original three owners of the track. Others include John Malone, who had previously served as the treasurer of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, and Bill France, who was the association’s first president. Together, they formed NASCAR to encourage more people to become involved in auto racing.
The combination of these three men – Ralph Wicks, John Malone, and Bill France – is officially credited with creating the sport we know today. Over the years, they have given countless amounts of time, energy, and love to ensure that NASCAR remains alive and well. In fact, France is often referred to as the “father of NASCAR.” He is the man that first conceived the idea of a circuit for auto racing, and he founded NASCAR to promote the sport – to make it more accessible to the average person.
What Does The Future Of The Speedway Hold?
One of the most exciting things about the speedway is its bright future. In 2013, it was announced that a new $20 million dollar grandstand would be constructed, expanding the capacity of the venue to around 7,000. In addition, the renovations included a new concession stand, club house, and modernized the track’s interior. Construction was completed in time for the 2015 racing season. During the same year, it was also announced that the speedway was in financial trouble. According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the owners of the track had approximately US$2.75 million worth of outstanding loans. The venue reportedly made a financial recovery plan, though it continues to operate at a loss. It was not until 2017 that it became known that the track was for sale. The following year, it was purchased by an affiliate of an investing group led by Atlanta-based businessman Arthur Blank.
Since then, Blank has worked to improve the track’s infrastructure, adding more lights and signage, as well as updating the sound system and interior design. In 2019, it was reported that the track expects to break even, though it continues to operate at a small loss. When asked about the future of the speedway, Blank replied, “I see a lot of promise in this place. As long as we keep our fingers crossed, we will be able to continue to build on this foundation and make the racing experience for everyone as good as possible.”
Blank is not the only one that sees promise in the track. The grandstand renovations have significantly increased capacity and added more amenities for fans. In 2016, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch described the speedway as “probably the greatest short track in the country.” As well, the track has hosted NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, a championship race for the NASCAR Whelen Alliance Series. In addition, it was the site of the annual “Ride For the Cords” charity auction, which benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. However, the track has some significant competition, so it will be interesting to see how the owners of the track manage their business in the coming years.