How Long Is The Track At Charlotte Motor Speedway? [Expert Guide!]

The track length at Charlotte Motor Speedway is a whopping 4 miles. That’s what makes it the longest NASCAR track in the world. Though it measures just a few feet shorter than the Daytona International Speedway, the difference in length is significant. It’s almost like comparing a football field to a basketball court. One thing you’ll immediately notice is that the stands at Charlotte rise steeply from the back to the front. Meaning, if you’re at the front of the stands, you’ll be able to see the entire track. This is also why the track is so narrow – it would be nearly impossible to extend the stands along the entire width of the track. They’d likely become structurally unsound.

Track Layout

The track layout at Charlotte has a couple of unusual characteristics. First off, there’s a slight uphill slope from the entrance to the back straightaway. This was most likely done to make the cars travel faster – after all, gravity is working against you here. The second characteristic has to do with the placement of the cautions. Normally, they’re placed at the end of the straightaways. However, at Charlotte they’re placed at the beginning of the back straightaway. This is because the cars coming off the turn on the front straightaway are launching high into the air, which makes them more susceptible to accidents. In other words, it’s safer to place the cautions here than at the end of the straightaway.

Track History

The history of the track actually dates back to 1911 when the Charlotte Cordes Speedway opened. It operated successfully for almost a century before being closed down in 1996. It was reopened in 1998 and has been operating at full capacity since then. While it may not be the most historic track, it is one of the most successful. The track has seen over 10 major accidents over the years, which is extremely high. This is due, mainly, to the fact that the track is so narrow. If a car flips over or crashes into the wall, there’s usually a high probability that it will hit another car or a tree. As a result, the fans here see an excessive amount of severe accidents. Though this hasn’t always been the case, things have gotten a lot safer since reopening. Nowadays, the track is more prepared for extreme accidents. This is mainly due to the way the track has been designed. It has a very high banking and there’s a short straightaway in front of the stands. This makes for some really dangerous racing.

Though the track has gotten a lot safer over the years since reopening, it still hasn’t been entirely void of accidents. In fact, in 2014 there were still 16 accidents on the track, which resulted in 24 injuries and two fatalities (Afaq Tholaut). In the 2015 season, the number of accidents dropped to 10, but there were still 28 injuries (C.J. Buckley). Though things were looking up, in 2016 they took a sharp turn and increased by 6% to 30 accidents and 42 injuries (Jeff Gordon). Looking at these numbers, it’s safe to say that things aren’t getting any easier here in North Carolina.

Future Of The Track

With so many people and the way the sport is growing, it’s obvious that tracks like this one will be around for a long time. Though it’s getting a bit harder to find a suitable location for a new speedway, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. It simply means that it’s getting harder to satisfy everyone’s particular needs. When a new speedway is built, it usually has a bank of at least 10 degrees. This helps create an even balance while still keeping the banking at an acceptable level. Unfortunately, it also makes for some pretty dangerous racing, especially on the back straightaway. Though it has a very high wall along the outside, which helps contain the accidents, it still takes a severe hit in the form of a crash or flip to result in serious injury or worse. Though this might seem like a negative, it has resulted in many innovations to help the sport become safer. For instance, while a normal track might have a wall that separates the grandstands from the track, this one is completely enclosed, which forces the fans to become more involved in the action. This reduces the amount of time they spend looking at the stands and increases the time they spend focused on the track. These days, tracks like this one are a part of NASCAR’s DNA and it shows in the innovation they continually bring to the table. Though there have been many complaints about the length of the track season, it hasn’t stopped the sport from growing and becoming more popular every year.

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