Eldora Speedway is considered the holy grail of dirt track racing, located in Downsville, Pennsylvania. It was first paved back in the 1960s and it still holds a grand opening event every year. If you’ve got a hunch that one day you’ll be competing at Eldora, you’d best start preparing yourself now since spots are strictly limited and they usually fill fast.
Located just a few hours west of Indianapolis, Pennsylvania, is Fairmont Indiana where the NASCAR races are held. It’s a mere two hours to the northeast to Eldora and you’ll be treated to some serious racing action. You won’t miss a moment as the cars scream by at almost 200 mph – it’s ear-popping frightening how fast they go!
Though a small-town racing venue, Fairmont Indiana is a hub of activity, especially during the NASCAR race weekends. The track is a quarter-mile oval with three main straightaways and features a large grandstand that can hold up to 15,000 people. There is also a medium grandstand that sits on top of the hill and a small uncovered terrace behind it. The entire course is bordered by a chain-link fence which acts as a sound barrier between the racers and the fans. It’s quite the scene and it’s not just about watching the action – you’re free to get up close and personal with the competitors all while drinking in the scenic beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.
You’ll have your choice of courses to follow at Fairmont – the main straightaways are banked, which makes for fast and exciting racing. If you ever watched the Speed Channel’s 24 Hours of Daytona, you’ll know exactly what kind of racing goes down there. The turns are tight and there’s plenty of places for a crash, especially if you’re not used to the speed of a stock car. You might find the layout a bit too much for you though – it’s a full course that features a little bit of everything, from high speeds to technical corners and even a couple of small karting tracks for the kids. It’s not just about the racing either – the entire venue is a hub of activity all throughout the year, hosting numerous concerts and motorsport-related activities, like driving schools and tech seminars. There’s a lot to do at Fairmont and it’s a definite must-visit if you’re into speed and sports in general.
The Difference In Capacity
One of the biggest differences between NASCAR racing at Fairmont and that at Eldora is the crowd’s capacity. At Fairmont, 15,000 can fit inside the grandstand while at Eldora, only 7,500 can. The closer to capacity the better, especially at smaller tracks – there’s usually a lot of standing and climbing over each other to get a good view of the action.
The more expensive tickets to the NASCAR race at Eldora are also a good indication of how much more popular the sport is becoming. Back in the 1960s, tickets to see a NASCAR race at Eldora were very affordable – $2.50 would get you into the stands, while $5 would get you a drink. Nowadays, they can cost up to ten times as much – $50 is the average price of a ticket these days. Though it is a much smaller venue than Eldora, you’ll feel the intensity of the fans’ support all the same. As well as being spectacular to watch, it’s an expensive sport and it draws a huge following, especially from people who live in neighboring states. You won’t get bored at a NASCAR event at Fairmont – there will always be something happening, even if it’s not a NASCAR race.
The Beauty Of Authentic Dirt Tracks
Dirt tracks are still the absolute best when it comes to pure, unadulterated racing. Pouring rain, snow, or shine, the cars still run pretty fast, though they don’t handle as well as they do on a paved course. It was originally designed to be more of a contact sport, with drivers hitting each other, jumping off walls, and all kinds of stunts. These days, however, the tracks have gotten a bit safer and the driving is more refined – there are hardly any rough patches of dirt anymore.
Sidewalks used to be a common spot for crashes in the past but they’re now protected by the tracks’ owners, who install the grassy areas at the start and finish lines. This makes them a little safer for pedestrians, though maybe not for the drivers panting after the cars all day long! There are three types of dirt tracks – short, intermediate, and long. Short tracks are the ones that hold the majority of the events – they’re usually a couple hundred meters long and feature one main straightaway that ends at a series of hairpins and tricky turns. Intermediate tracks are a bit longer – a couple of thousand meters – and are very similar to the short tracks, with some slight variations. Long tracks are the ultimate test of speed and skill – they can be up to a mile and a half long and feature numerous turns and straights, as well as some very steep hills! The last one is obviously the queen of all dirt tracks, located in Ocoee, Tennessee – the Bonneville Speedway. It’s over a mile and a half long, with berms (raised areas on each side of the track) that stretch for almost a quarter of a mile!
You can find dirt tracks all over the place, from small layouts in backyards or parking lots all the way up to huge tracks like the ones I’ve mentioned above, but there’s something special about the ones in the United States – you always know what kind of surface the track is made of, since there’s either dirt or mud everywhere! The trucks also look more realistic, since there’s no perfect pavement to reflect the sun like on a road course. Though sometimes difficult to find, a good rule of thumb is to look for a track with a seating capacity of no more than 6,000 – the bigger the capacity, the more annoying it will be to get a good view of the action, especially since you’ll be climbing over and around people all the time, to get a good spot.
The History Of Speed
The concept of speed dates back all the way to the 1800s, when people organized races to see who could go the fastest. In those days, people drove very short distances on dirt or gravel roads – many of the early races were only a few miles long!
In the early 1900s, Henry Ford invented the Ford Motorcycle, which he raced on roads back in the days when they were made of pavement. He was eventually stripped of his title as the man who invented the motorcycle, though his company still makes the bikes to this day! In the 1950s, NASCAR was created as an alternative to the hugely popular Indianapolis 500, named after the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Since then, NASCAR races have been held every month of the year, at least, with the exception of November, in which case, they were pushed to the next year. The only other time they were postponed was in 1973, due to the 1973 oil crisis. In the 1960s and 1970s, when oil prices soared, people used to joke that NASCAR would never go out of style because it was always the first choice of drivers looking for a way to make a quick buck. Nowadays, with gasoline prices at an all-time low, many fans may be questioning whether or not NASCAR will ever go out of style!
The track owners and the drivers are always searching for that extra speed, that last bit of momentum that would help them to go that little bit faster. Luckily for them, there is a device that can help – the spoiler! A spoiler is a device that’s attached to the back of a vehicle, designed to prevent air from hitting the wings or the back of the car, causing it to travel faster. It was first used in Formula One back in the 1950s and it was later adopted by NASCAR, with the exception of Indianapolis – the Speedway doesn’t need spoilers, since they’re always in the sun!
The Most Famous NASCAR Venues
There are numerous venues that host NASCAR events, but a few of them hold a special place in the hearts of all racing fans. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most famous ones.
The one that probably comes to mind first is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, known for its famous Brickyard 400, held each year in the fall. Though it’s been somewhat overshadowed in recent years by NASCAR’s own Daytona Beach, the Brickyard is the grand daddy of all NASCAR tracks – it was the first paved track back in 1909! The entire course is a whopping quarter-mile long and it features multiple turns, numerous straightaways, and a whopping grandstand, which seats up to 125,000!