Is Atlanta Motor Speedway A Restrictor Plate Race? [Facts!]

There’s a scene in the new movie, “Fast and Furious 7,” where the main characters, posing as tourists, try to blend in with the locals by asking questions about the recent Grand Prix race held at the infamous Atlanta Motor Speedway. The scene serves as an introduction to the fictional setting; the 2019 edition of the real-life speedway featured a field of 300 cars and more than 500,000 spectators. The movie-makers were clearly aiming for authenticity, and the scene certainly fits within the theme of the film: mixing everyday life with crime. In reality, there is no way for typical, law-abiding citizens to experience the thrill of a large-scale automobile race, except perhaps at one of NASCAR’s other venues, which does not involve significant jailtime.

The Importance Of Authenticity

Authenticity is an extremely important element to any film or TV show. If you’ve seen any of the “Made in China” documentary series on Netflix or BBC iPlayer, you’ll know what I mean. Authentic food, clothes, and settings are what make a show or movie feel real, and it’s what helps define the period in which it was produced.

This is what makes it so difficult to film a scene like the one described above at ATLAS. The road race there is unique, and the fact that it is the biggest and the longest on the American circuit makes it an essential part of any serious car enthusiast’s calendar. Unfortunately, you can’t simply walk into the record books and say you were at that race. There’s no way to prove it. The closest you’ll come is by watching the tapes and recreating what happened…which is what the majority of spectators do when they attend a Grand Prix at an international circuit. It’s safe to assume that some of them will try to embellish the truth when asked about what they saw and how it compared to the movie version. To get a true feel for the unique atmosphere at ATLAS, you have to go there and experience it yourself. Unfortunately, getting a ticket to one of NASCAR’s premier events is next to impossible. You’ll need to settle for the next-best thing: watching the reruns or streaming the events online.

The Ticket To An Authentic Experience

The closest thing to getting a ticket to the 2019 edition of the Atlanta Motor Speedway is through one of the many online motorsport ticket exchanges, which offer Grand Prix access for a song. The catch is that the majority of tickets on these sites are either sold out or reserved for sponsors, TV crews, and other assorted insiders. Getting in the next-best thing, a friend of mine tells me, is going to be a pain in the ass. Not only do you have to find a way to be at the right place (keep in mind, it’s across the country), at the right time, but you also have to find someone who’ll let you in.

The good news is that we live in an era where technology has made it possible to record and replay live sporting events. This enables fans to get an authentic experience without ever even having to leave the comforts of their homes. Thanks to digital video, we can now capture and store virtually everything that happens on our TVs, phones, and tablets. Thanks to social media, we can recreate events that took place years ago and share those re-enactments with people who were there when it happened. In the future, getting an authentic experience at a live sporting event might not even require a trip to the stadium.

Recreational Driving

“Recreational driving” is the term used when someone drives a car for entertainment purposes, whether on a track or road. Technically speaking, NASCAR itself is a sport where drivers are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicles while traveling at high speeds. However, the majority of its fans would probably argue that watching a few top-flight stock car races is hardly a valid description of the entire sport. The average NASCAR fan spends more time hanging out with their cars than they do with their friends, family, and lovers. This passion for cars is the genesis of the ‘recreational driver.’

In the past, stock car racing was the domain of men who could regularly be found at bars, spending their hard-earned money on alcohol and cigarettes. The arrival of the ‘recreational driver’ led to a paradigm shift; today, women comprise over half of all NASCAR fans, and many of them are just as devoted to the sport as their male counterparts. In the coming years, as electric cars take over the road, NASCAR itself could become a thing of the past. As a matter of fact, the future of stock car racing is more likely to be found in fully electric vehicles. Naturally, this entails a complete overhaul of the existing infrastructure; the tracks will be abandoned and replaced with charging stations. So, if you really want to see NASCAR in its original form — as it was in the 1960s — you should look towards the electric vehicle era.

The Historic Track

For those of us who live in the Southeast, winter is a pain. It involves a lot of shoveling and watching Netflix in the hopes that one of the many movies about car gangs will improve your mood. If you appreciate classic racing cars and tracks, then you might want to consider a visit to the Historic Atlanta Motor Speedway. This is where legends are made, and it’s not uncommon for someone’s dream to come true here. It’s easy to get to from the North, so those of us in the Southeast should really be thankful that the season has changed. Traveling to the Historic Atlanta Motor Speedway during the winter means the air is usually cold, but the track is in pristine condition.

The temperature might be low, but that doesn’t mean the spirit is, as there are plenty of vintage racing cars to keep you warm. The atmosphere at the track is a unique combination of excitement and nostalgia. You can feel the excitement in the air, along with the faint smell of gasoline. It’s like driving back in time to the Golden Age of Motorsport, when speed was a virtue and technical accuracy was valued over all else.

Even diehard NASCAR fans might not understand where my allegiances lie. I love my country and all it stands for, but I also love old cars and driving them as fast as possible. The historic track lets you do just that, and in an age where streaming services have made it possible for anyone to follow the sport online, it’s the place to be. You can’t get a better blend of motorsport and Americana than at the Historic Atlanta Motor Speedway in winter.

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