Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the largest motorsports venues in the world. The track is actually comprised of two separate racetracks: The NASCAR International Speedway and the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The total track mileage is nearly equal to a round-trip to the moon! If you’ve never been there, here’s your chance to see what all the hype is about.
The Grand Dame Of American Motorsport
The most recognizable name in American motorsports, Charlotte Motor Speedway was founded in 1911 and named after Charlotte, the queen-consort of King George of Great Britain. The track’s original name was the Queen City Speedway. In honor of Charlotte’s contribution to the sport, the track has always been known as “The Queen City” or “The Queen’s Speedway.” During its early years, the track was used mostly for bicycle racing and speed trials. But in the 1920s, NASCAR was born as a professional racing division. In the same year, the track became the site of the annual Bankers Life Fieldhouse Championship. Since 1929, the prestigious season-ending event has been held at the track, featuring some of the biggest racing names in American history. In 1939, the track was the venue for the famous World’s Fair, also known as the “New York World’s Fair,” which showcased the future of industry and technology.
The expansion of the highway system during the Second World War led to the demolition of The Queen City’s original grandstand. The speedway was closed for three years while a new concrete and steel stadium was built in its place.
Modernizing & Redefining NASCAR
After the war, Charlotte Motor Speedway continued to grow and evolve. The first highlight of the modern era was the introduction of the all-new Hemi engine, which was featured in the prestigious NASCAR Rideshare program. In 1955, the track held a record six races in a single day. The next year, it was expanded to a 1.5-mile track after having previously run on a 1-mile oval. In 1957, the track was further modified, adding an extra half-mile to its length. In the 1960s, the track became a 4th of July tradition, hosting the United States’ premiere annual Independence Day motorsport festival. In 1968, NASCAR was integrated, meaning that white drivers were now permitted to drive with African-Americans and other minorities. The 1970s were a glorious decade for NASCAR, as the sport grew rapidly, attracting many new fans. In 1972, the track held a record 11 races in a single day, and it was renamed the North Carolina Motor Speedway. The following year, the track’s name was changed to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, with the bank originally sponsoring the name change.
The 1980s were a difficult decade for American motorsports. There was a lot of unrest in the country, the price of gasoline was high, and many fans were attracted to watching races on TV screens instead of attending live events, due to the lack of convenient nationwide transportation. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the U.S. automobile industry began to flourish, and Charlotte enjoyed a fresh burst of popularity, drawing an average of 164,000 spectators in 1995.
The Queen City’s Most Famous & Most Haunted Building
It’s often said that the United States’ grandest sport venues are not necessarily located in the largest cities. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Take a look at some of the most famous American sports venues and you’ll notice that they’re not in the biggest cities; they’re usually located in smaller, more intimate venues, where the fans are literally face to face with the athletes, and where the magic of sports is retained.
One of the most prestigious sports venues in the United States is, in fact, located in Charlotte: the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Opened in 1929, the magnificent structure was originally named the Memorial Auditorium, in honor of the workers who died in the Great Depression. It was later renamed the Charlotte Memorial Stadium and, finally, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, after the track and its surrounding properties were purchased by a private group in the 1960s. Today, the fieldhouse is the home of the University of North Carolina’s basketball team, the Tarheels. While you’re there, be sure to check out the spectacular memorabilia on display, which includes jerseys, helmets, and other equipment worn by basketball legends, such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Another jewel in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina is the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Queen City’s premier racing venue opened in 1911 and was originally designed to hold 100,000 spectators. It was originally named the Queen City Speedway and was later renamed the North Carolina Motor Speedway. Since the 1960s, the historic track has been owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, a company which also owns other professional motorsport venues, including the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Darlington Raceway. When you arrive at the entrance, you’ll be greeted by a magnificent statue of a race car driver in full gear. Be sure to stop and take a picture here because, from this location, the track’s iconic yellow-brick arch, which is 66 yards long, can be viewed over the entrance gates and the speedway’s expansive parking lot.
One Of The Country’s Most Unique & Historic Venues
One of the most unique and historic venues in the United States is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, located just a few miles outside the city of Indianapolis. Opened in 1909 and originally named the Indianapolis Speedway, the track was the first built and owned by motor sports enthusiasts (Speedways founders), which later became one of the nation’s most prestigious sports venues. Today, the track’s official name is still the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it is more widely known by its fans as “the Brickyard.” The track has survived several major disasters, including the Great Depression and two world wars. Be sure to visit the Speedway during the peak season, which runs from April to October, as the track’s location makes it one of the most popular venues during that period.
The Most Famous & Largest Venues For Baseball, Golf, & Tennis
Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the NBA (the National Basketball Association) are the sport’s three major professional sports leagues. Like NASCAR, the three sports are often touted as being the country’s favorite pastimes. And, like Charlotte and Indy, the three sports’ venues are often located in smaller cities and townships rather than the big metropolitan areas, which means there are fewer seats and more close-knit communities. This is especially the case with baseball and golf, where you won’t find many people who don’t live in the area.
But the three sports have some amazing venues. Take, for example, Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, which opened in 1993 and holds 41,957 spectators. Or, take Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, which opened in 1967 and holds 72,276 people. These are some of the largest sport venues in the country. And then there’s Marlins Park, which opened in 2012 and holds 41,957 spectators. It’s hard to believe that three sports, which are such a part of American culture, have evolved in such a way that they need such enormous venues.
Other Major Venues
Other major venues in the U.S. include Boston’s Fenway Park and Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. As the name implies, Fenway Park is home of the Boston Red Sox. The park opened in 1912 and still holds over 63,000 spectators, making it one of the most popular sports venues in the country. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, it was originally named the Fenway Park after the Boston Garden, which was adjacent to the park. The baseball field at Fenway is called the “Green Monster,” named after the huge concrete grandstand that was destroyed by a tornado in 1998, but was later rebuilt.
Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena opened in 1972 and is named after the famous African-American boxer, Joe Louis. It is the home of the Detroit Red Wings, as well as the Detroit Pistons and the Detroit Tigers, who play at nearby Comerica Park. Since its construction, the arena has been the site of some amazing sporting events, including the 1972 Nixon inauguration, the 1974 World Series, and hundreds of major concerts, including some legendary performances.
There are so many unique and historic venues throughout the U.S. But the country’s biggest sports venues, in terms of capacity, are not in major cities; they’re usually located in smaller towns and, in some cases, even in individual homes. Take a look at the places where the magic of sports is truly felt.