With four turns and steep banking, the tri-oval layout of Houston Motor Speedway makes for some exciting racing. However, how much of an impact does the track have on the top fuel running groups? In order to find out, we need to take a look at the data from the last 15 years of NHRA racing at this track. This should help paint a clear picture of just how good this speedway is for high-speed running – and if it’s still as good as it was back in the day.
The Last Fifteen Years
The last 15 years have been good to Houston Motor Speedway. The track was designed by the same company that built Homestead-Miami Speedway and has seen increased popularity every year since. Thanks to its unique tri-oval layout and banked turns, the track has attracted some of the best fuel runners in the land. Here’s a look back at the last 15 years of Top Fuel action at this very American speedway.
Overall, Houston Motor Speedway has seen a steady increase in popularity over the last 15 years with Top Fuel having the most fans. However, the last two years have seen a significant decline in attendance with the overall average down almost 12,000 fans per year. The steep banking and tri-oval design of the track make for some exciting racing, but it appears that the fans have figured out a way to get their fix at other tracks. Maybe it’s time for Houston Motor Speedway to change up their format a bit and add more drag strips or make some other significant changes that will reignite the crowd’s interest.
Top Fuel Attracts The Biggest Crowds Here
To begin with, the overall average crowd size for Top Fuel is just over 11,500 per year which is almost 3,000 more than average. The minimum number of tickets required to see Top Fuel is 10,000 which makes this speedway the most popular at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. It should come as no surprise that the most popular division here is Top Fuel since the higher the fuel capacity, the more pronounced the boost in power. The average Top Fuel car possesses a capacity of 5.5 to 6.0 liters and with a 0.61 second reaction time, these cars can reach over 300 horsepower on the grid. This makes them some of the most potent vehicles on the planet and with the right driver, they’re capable of knocking the socks off nearly any other machine. The downside is that the cars are so loud that they’re almost impossible to live with. Maybe if they changed up the engine a bit to make it a bit quieter, they could find a way to make it to the 21st century without losing a single fan.
No Biggest Loser In Attendance
The average age of the fans at Houston Motor Speedway is 54.1 years which makes it the oldest of all the speedways we looked at here. However, it’s definitely not a problem since the elderly are just as interested in high-speed racing as the young. In fact, overall, there’s a large population of senior citizens who attend sporting events including auto races. The median age of a NASCAR fan is 51.8 years old which makes it not too far off from the 54.1 years of the attendees at Houston Motor Speedway. This could be because there aren’t many jobs available to younger people these days and they’re having to turn to sports to indulge their hobbies.
All The Banks Are Filled Up
The middle turn of Houston Motor Speedway is quite a bit wider than the other three making up the track. This has led to over the last 15 years, the middle turn seeing the most passes and the most significant change in direction. This could be because it offers the best opportunity for passing and gaining speed. When the inner two turns are used, the car in second tends to pass the one in front since there’s not much room for overtaking. This is mainly due to the high speeds involved. There aren’t many NASCAR tracks that see as many passes in the middle as Houston Motor Speedway with over 300 pass attempts per year. One could even make the case that this is the most pass-happy turn on the whole circuit. This is also responsible for the cars colliding frequently since there isn’t much room for caution and avoiding accidents.
Most Thrown Away Equipment Here
Overall, Houston Motor Speedway is the track where the most racing equipment is thrown away before the race even begins. This is due to the high speeds involved combined with the tight turn radius making it very easy for the drivers to lose control. The asphalt burns and car-to-car collisions are just a part of the thrill of riding a NASCAR race at this historic track. The equipment is also quite a bit cheaper here because there’s no protection from head to toe in the way there is at other venues. This makes it cheaper for the teams to bring equipment here compared to other speedways. Since 2002, Houston Motor Speedway has only seen three significant changes in the rules concerning tire changes. This is in comparison to the other three venues we’ve looked at so far where they’ve changed the rules over 30 times. It’s quite clear that this is a track where the rules are often ignored and changed for the sake of change in order to keep things interesting for the fans.
Most Damage Dues To Contact
It’s quite clear that Houston Motor Speedway is the track where the cars are often the most damaged compared to the other three we’ve looked at so far. The reason behind this is quite straightforward. Due to its narrow turns and tight turns, the cars are constantly banging into each other resulting in frequent damage. This is quite different from the Vegas or Oklahoma tracks where the cars are more air-lifted thanks to their flat layouts and wide turns making for a smoother ride. Overall, the most damage at any NHRA event here comes from the collisions with the odds heavily in favor of the participants since they’re not wearing protective gear like they are at other venues. In 2015 alone, the NHRA had to put in over 100 hours of repairs due to the amount of damage caused by cars hitting each other. However, the good thing is that it’s quite inexpensive to fix since the panels are reusable and it doesn’t require any specialized tools or knowledge to fix. The downside is that some of the hits are quite violent resulting in more injuries and dangerous situations for the participants. This is quite the opposite of what the NHRA is trying to promote which is fair racing to the best of their ability.
Fastest Average Speed
The overall average speed at Houston Motor Speedway is 185.3 mph with the quickest track section coming in at 201.9 mph. This makes it the second-fastest average speed on our list of five stadiums after only the Brick Store Museum in New York where the average speed is just over 201 mph. The steep banking and tri-oval design of the track make for some exciting racing and the fans here love their cars which can be seen by the large amount of sponsor logos adorning the vehicles in this division. The most exciting part about these cars’ sponsorships is that most of them are highly corporate sponsorships which means the drivers are bringing lots of money to the table. It should come as no surprise that the most popular division here is Top Fuel seeing as this is the division where the teams are making the most money per year. It should also come as no surprise that the fastest overall average speed at Houston Motor Speedway is in the top two turns since this is the area where the majority of the action takes place. It’s quite evident that this is a track that is quite good for high-speed running and it still holds up today as one of the premier tracks in the country for this purpose.