How Far Is Texas Motor Speedway From Me? [Ultimate Guide!]

Byron’s Take

If you’ve ever driven to school or work in the state of Texas, then you know exactly how far it is – and you don’t want to miss a single mile. That’s the feeling I had when I moved away from home, and even though I was driving an automobile then, the mental image of that straight red road that runs from Dallas all the way to Houston was burned into my brain. That’s the kind of scenery that would make even the most hardened road warrior turn around and say, “Never again”. When I found out that Texas Motor Speedway was holding a car show in honor of the 25th anniversary of the speedway, I knew I had to be there. Even though I hadn’t been there in more than 20 years, I still remembered that flat, empty feeling that came with missing a turn and finding yourself in some strange place that you didn’t recognize. That’s the feeling I wanted to evoke in old and new fans alike – to make them feel like they were right there in the middle of the desert with me, cheering me on as I raced toward home.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The good: The speedway holds a special place in my heart. The bad: I know very little about the present state of the speedway. The ugly: I know even less about its current owner, Eddie Gossage. However, what I do know is that a lot of bad things happened there in the past, and maybe it’s time for Gossage to finally face the facts and give the place a new beginning. Luckily, with a little research and asking around, I was able to piece together a rough timeline of the last quarter century at the speedway. It’s something that I imagine most fans, new and old, will want to know more about. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of what happened before, during, and after my rookie year there. It’s probably the best tale of my initial brush with NASCAR that any of my fans might be interested in reading.

The Early Years

The year is 1989, and I’ve just graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I’ve been working for a large telecommunications company for the past three years, and I’m now ready for a change. My old man, who grew up in the South, always told me that I had a good head on my shoulders and that I could always find a job no matter what happened. Unfortunately, he was wrong. I had just been handed a pink slip, and there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be a long and frustrating five years before I could even think about looking for work again. A huge down payment and the hefty balance on my Visa were the only things standing between me and the daunting task of renting a small apartment in the city.

I remember the first month or so after I got laid off. I worked up the courage to call the speedway, even though I’d never been there in my life. I figured I had nothing to lose, and with my previous experience working for an insurance company, I figured I might be able to get a job there. Surprisingly – and I suspect this was due to my sheer cluelessness – I managed to get a callback for an interview. I showed up for the interview, which took place at the speedway, complete with a tour of the place. Afterward, they offered me an entry-level job working in the pits, sweeping up and taking out trash. For a young man with no real work experience, this was a pretty good deal. I remember being absolutely overwhelmed by the place. The grandstands were a sea of red baseball hats, and the atmosphere was electric. This was not the depressed, industrial town with which I was familiar. This was NASCAR – the real thing! At 26 years old, I had finally found a place that I belonged. Even though I knew almost nothing about the sport, I’d fallen in love with it on that very first trip there.

The early 90’s were a tough time for NASCAR. The economy was in the gutter, and many of the tracks were in a similar situation. They were struggling to stay open, and it was all but certain that many of them wouldn’t make it to the next season. This was undoubtedly the case at the speedway. Attendance at the track was in a steep decline, and with fewer people and higher prices at the concession stands, the money was getting thinner and thinner. In fact, this was a time when many businesses in the sport were literally counting their money – they’d never seen anything like it.

The Ruined Stands

When I started working there, the grandstands were still a sight to behold. There were several rows of concrete seats that surrounded a flat roof with the familiar white fence and green gridiron in the middle. Kids would sit in those seats and cheer on their favorite drivers, just as their parents and grandparents had done for decades. There were a few aisles of concrete bleachers where spectators could sit and take in the action from behind the fence. The whole place felt fresh, new, and exciting.

As time went by, the stands began to fall apart. The asphalt on the track began to deteriorate, and the concrete seating started to crack and break down. After several years of heavy use, the seats just stopped working altogether. Even the roof began to leak, and it became apparent that it was only a matter of time before the entire grandstands would have to be torn down and replaced.

After years of disrepair, the speedway finally decided to do something about it. They replaced a good portion of the grandstands with a modern steel and concrete structure and covered the rest with what they call the Texas Roof, made of steel and aluminum. This is a pretty innovative solution, as this is the first time a roof has been used as a spectator seating area in such a fashion. The new speedway looks like a conventional sports arena, but with some really neat touches that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s hard not to like the new speedway. It’s sleek, modern, and most importantly, it still has that unique Texas feel that made it special in the first place.

The Downfall

As I said, I knew absolutely nothing about the sport other than the fact that it was a family tradition for my old man and his buddies to attend races and stay at the Sheraton. I didn’t even know what a pit stop was, much less how important it was to perform them successfully. I was simply following instructions, doing as I was told without really knowing why. I had joined the “in-house” NASCAR club, and pretty soon, I was winning trophies and getting invited to award ceremonies. I was having a great time and making a lot of money, so I decided to extend my stay for a year. I wanted to see how things worked in the real world of NASCAR, with all its ups and downs, its complexities and intricacies. This was a big mistake. I should have left when I first saw something that I didn’t understand, like a red flag or a caution flag, but I was too confident in myself and my abilities. This is when things started going wrong. I began to lose money, and before I knew it, I was facing eviction. I didn’t have enough money to pay the rent for another month, and my boss didn’t have a good feeling about my situation, which is probably why she gave me the pink slip in the first place.

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