How Long Is Pocono Speedway? [Updated!]

Even diehard fans of the IndyCar race may be surprised to learn just how long the Pocono International Speedway race actually is. The answer is, it’s one of the longest running sports events in North America, having first been held in the year 1934. That’s 70 years of continuous racing, making it one of the oldest and most prestigious motorsport venues in existence. It’s not just the length of the event that makes it special, either. The entire racing season at this Pennsylvania track is filled with excitement! In fact, it’s not unusual for the entire year to go by without a single boring moment.

History Of The Track

The history of the Speedway is filled with innovation and excitement, having started small before growing to the present day incarnation. For those unfamiliar, the track was originally built as a horse racing venue in 1905, and was known as the Philadelphia Park Racetrack. The first Indy cars took the track off-road in 1933, and the name was changed to the current moniker. The track remained a horse racing facility until the 1968 Summer Olympics, when it was turned into a full-scale drag strip.

Since then, the venue has remained the same, with only a few cosmetic upgrades here and there. In fact, the track itself looks remarkably similar to how it did back in its horse racing days (with the addition of seats and safety bars, of course – but that’s the nature of horse racing). One major difference is that the current owners (Goodrich family) have made the track much more family-friendly, with a Kid’s Korner and other attractions aimed at younger race fans. These days, the largest crowd at PIR is the 70,000 who come for the IndyCar race every year – making it one of the top 10 largest sports venues in the country. (Wikipedia)

The 2018 Season Stats

For those unfamiliar, the 2018 season consisted of two parts: the standalone IndyCar race and the PennGrade Motorcycle race. The former was open to the public and the latter was a closed-doors event for pro riders only. All told, the race weekend consisted of 4 or 5 full days of motor racing action, beginning on Thursday and ending on Sunday. Unfortunately, the first weekend of October was hampered by rain, leaving fans with no chance to see several top names (including Scott Dixon) in action.

Here are the numbers for the year. As usual, the final figures are somewhat disputed, but this is the best data we have currently:

Attendance

We don’t have official stats for attendance at the 2018 event yet, but the figure below is what we can cobble together from various news outlets and forums. The final total is likely to be around 210,000, which would make it the 7th largest sports event in the state of New York (just behind the 2020 MLB Playoffs)

This figure is mostly down to the fact that people aren’t used to going to games as often as they used to back in the day, when the TVA Stadium was new and people wanted to be there to see it.

Regardless, it’s fair to say that the attendance at the IndyCar race at PIR is now in the region of 100,000, which is a fairly significant decrease from the 250,000 who showed up in 2016 (the previous record year). It’s clear that with just a couple of marquee events, such as the IndyCar race and the National Hockey League’s preseason game, the NFL’s annual Pro Bowl and the NCAA’s Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the season is starting to take its toll on people’s desire to come and see live motorsport.

Top-Level Engagement

One of the cornerstones of any successful motorsport event is getting the best possible television coverage. Fortunately, PIR was graced with some fantastic reporters this year, such as Luke Walton of Motorsport.com and Jack Aragon of the New York Post, both of whom delivered exceptional work. Unfortunately, their talents were wasted by the TVA broadcasting company, who cut out all color and audio in numerous areas of the track, limiting the viewers’ experience (and often frustrating fans). Hopefully, the issues were resolved prior to the start of the 2019 season, and the coverage was more enjoyable than before.

On the subject of television coverage, one of the biggest problems this year was the fact that there were fewer overall live streams than there had been in previous years, with some sources estimating that there were only a few hundred live video streams for the entire weekend. This makes it much more difficult to follow all the action, especially since the top-draw motorsport fans are now more likely to follow all the in-race antics on social media than on live TV.

Driver Participation

There were only a few big-name retirements from last year’s winner’s circle, with Juan Pablo Montoya, Ed Jones and Scott Dixon all stepping away from the cockpit. This naturally increased driver participation, as there were more than 600 entrants in the race, compared to the usual 549. The increase in drivers offered a fantastic spectacle, especially since the majority of them were rookie drivers (such as Ryan Hunter-Reay and Spencer Pigot). The combination of more experienced drivers and rookies made for some fantastic battles throughout the year.

It’s also worth noting that the number of female drivers participating increased this year, with a record-breaking 26 women driving at the IndyCar race. The rise in popularity of motorsport among females is certainly a positive sign, as more and more women are wanting to get behind the wheel and feel the rush that comes with sitting in the middle of a pack of cars. It’s clear that motorsport is a sport that anyone can enjoy, regardless of gender, and that the owners and the Goodrich family, who run the track, are doing everything they can to make sure that everyone – especially young people – feel welcome. (The Goodrich family also owns the Fontana Speedway, so it wouldn’t hurt for them to get a little competitive, either.)

Betting Markets

The wagering markets for the IndyCar race this year were incredibly popular, with an in-race betting total of around $22 million being placed over the entire course of the event. It’s worth noting that around 40% of those bets were placed during the actual race, with the majority of people betting on IndyCar primarily because of its historical significance as a well-known race and its position as an annual event on the calendar. This is likely because the 2019 edition was the 70th anniversary of the race, and many people wanted to come and place a bet on something that was as legendary as the race itself.

The majority of the bets were placed on the Over/Under line – with early favorites to win the event including Alexander Rossi, Charlie Kimball and Scott Dixon. The 2018 edition of the race was a popular choice for those looking to bet on the winning driver and horse, with several thousand people placing bets before the first corner had been completed. This is likely because of the hype surrounding the race and the fact that it was one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year.

More Information

If you’d like, you can find all sorts of information on the internet regarding the 2018 IndyCar race (including a handy schedule and results). For more details on the history of the track, you can visit wikipedia, which has an entire article on the subject. There, you’ll also find a handy timeline of significant events that took place at PIR.

If you’d like to keep up with the latest news regarding the venue, you can follow the track’s official Twitter account (@Pocono_Speedway), which frequently covers breaking news as well as important race information (including announcements regarding any changes to the track’s rules).

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!