Bristol Motor Speedway is located in Bristol, Tennessee, and was the first purpose-built speedway constructed in America. While it was first and foremost a racing venue, its scope expanded to include music concerts and other types of exhibitions in the 1960s. Today, Bristol is most well known for its motorsport activities and is home to the annual Monster Truck Jam World Summit, an event that brings together speedway fans from all over the world.
Is it really steep at Bristol Motor Speedway? The answer is yes and no. While the banking is certainly quite high, the overall rise of the track is much more moderate, considering that the elevation changes gradually, unlike some other venues that plunge precipitously. Here’s a detailed look at how steep Bristol Motor Speedway is, including an approximate measurement for those curious souls who want to know for sure.
Bristol Motor Speedway (Approximate Elevation)
Bristol Motor Speedway is located in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, about an hour and a half from the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, where the speedway is actually located. The venue is accessible via I-40, the main north-south highway in the region, and directly from I-65, the main east-west highway. The elevation changes gradually, so it’s not quite as steep as one might think at first glance.
According to the authoritative Horseracing Management website, the track is located at elevation 7,974 feet above sea level, with a maximum elevation of 8,400 feet above sea level. Its minimal elevation change makes for an approximate overall slope or climb of 1 percent, which is quite low compared to the rest of this list, unless you consider the fact that the track is actually in the mountains.
Most Elevated Race Track
The Mohawk Racetrack in Upstate New York is the highest track on this list, reaching an elevation of 8,428 feet above sea level. The track is located in the town of Geneva, about 40 miles north of the Canadian border. The elevation change is quite steep, and from sea level, the track rises 2,359 feet, reaching a maximum elevation of 8,428 feet above sea level. The venue is actually part of a larger casino and hotel complex, and the whole thing is quite the sight to behold, especially when the sun is shining and the track is dressed in all its yellow and black splendor.
Another steep rollercoaster of a track is the Sansei Sugaryama Japanese Hillclimb in Tokyo, located in the city’s Koto Ward. The venue is named after its designer, who was a one-time Japanese hillclimb champion. The whole track is actually an upside-down U, and the banking is quite steep—14 degrees—making it the steepest of all the tracks on this list. The altitude changes by no means linearly, so the track’s slope is actually a bit steeper closer to the top than it is closer to the bottom.
The Elsinore Hillclimb in San Francisco is also quite a thrill-seeker’s paradise, reaching an elevation of 7,981 feet above sea level. The steepest bit of the track is located in the center and is only 1.04 miles long, with a maximum elevation of 7,981 feet above sea level. In order to protect the grasslands that the venue occupies, the California Environmental Regulations mandate that no car can climb higher than 7,880 feet above sea level. However, even that restriction is nearly impossible to enforce due to the nature of the terrain—it’s almost like they built the track with a 5-foot gap in the design for the sake of drama!
Most Depressed Race Track
The English Market in Melbourne, Australia, is the lowest track on this list, reaching an elevation of 6,390 feet above sea level. Interestingly, the venue is located on a plain, with no obvious surrounding hills or mountains to offer any relief to the eye or to tire muscles climbing up or down the track. While the surroundings are rather dull, the track is quite a feat of engineering and has been compared to the English Channel, due to the similarity of the two bodies of water. The venue originally opened as a livestock market in 1888 and was used for horse, cattle, and sheep sales and auctions for the next century. In the 1960s, a track announcer would famously say that the English Market was the most depressing track he’d ever climbed. Today, it’s quite a spectacle to behold the paddock area before the races, with thousands of grazing animals occupying the space—sort of like the view from the bottom of an empty grain silo.
The Berlin Wall is the shortest track on this list, being only 0.96 miles in length. However, not all of it is on level ground. Up until 1914, there was a 544-foot hill that served as a natural barrier between the four sectors of occupied Berlin. The wall was built by German engineers and contractors, and the sectors on the eastern side used bricks and mortar to create their own version of the Great Wall of China. Unfortunately, the wall came with its own set of problems. It was built in such a way that it blocked off all the sunlight and fresh air, as well as creating its own microclimate—perfect for mosquitos! The wall also became a magnet for vandals and graffiti artists, which led to it being covered in colorful, fun-loving artwork—which was then removed during the division of Berlin into two states, creating the modern-day city we know today.
Zhoubei Circuit in China’s Henan Province also deserves a mention, as it’s the shortest track on this list, spanning only 0.92 miles. However, it’s located in the northern part of the country, which is notorious for its cold winters. The banking is quite high, and from sea level, the track ascends 2,260 feet, reaching a maximum elevation of 7,898 feet above sea level. Due to the harsh conditions, the track is only used in the summer months.
Which Is The Steepest?
The answer to this question is somewhat subjective, as it depends on your point of view. For those seeking thrills and adventures, the Mohawk Racetrack in Upstate New York, the Sansei Sugaryama Japanese Hillclimb in Tokyo, and the Elsinore Hillclimb in San Francisco are the ultimate bucket-list experiences, each one providing its own brand of excitement, whatever your favorite kind may be. For those seeking more of a scenic view, the English Market, Berlin Wall, and Zhoubei Circuit are a few other options that come to mind, as each one provides a different perspective of the surrounding countryside.