If you’re a car racing fan then you’re well aware that the Jamestown Nd Speedway has become one of the premier short-track racing venues in the country. Established in 1884, the historic 1.9-mile oval has hosted some of the greatest names in NASCAR history and continues to attract some of the most loyal fans in the industry. Does the recent success of the series and the track’s reputation as an historic landmark still have legs?
Yes, all of those things still have legs—and plenty of them. In fact, during the 2019 racing season the Jamestown Nd Speedway will host some of the most intriguing events in its storied history. For example, the first two of a three-night event on June 15–17 will put the spotlight on legends like Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, and Bill Elliott. These three will be joined by Dale Earnhardt, the only father-son duo to race against each other, in a one-of-a-kind reunion. Then, on October 4–6, the track will once again host the biggest names in stock car racing when it hosts the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ fall race. These three big events alone are worth the price of admission for any NASCAR fan.
The lineup for the 2020 racing season is truly special. Already a part of the NASCAR history books, the track will host the premiere of NASCAR’s first-ever reality TV show, Survive and Advance, which pits rookie drivers competing for cash prizes against veteran racers in a battle for supremacy. The first episode premieres on March 18th at 8 p.m. ET on NASCAR TV.
Tiny, Yet Historic
The 1.9-mile oval was originally built as a railway station and then turned into a race course in 1884, making it the country’s third-oldest active NASCAR racing venue. It was originally called the North Carolina State Fairgrounds before being renamed in honor of one of NASCAR‘s most prominent founding families, the Jammers. In addition to being a hub for stock car racing, the town of Jamestown and the track have also hosted other forms of entertainment throughout the years.
The stadium itself is somewhat of a feat of engineering. In 1930, the groundskeeper at the time, Ralph Fike, built the stands to resemble a beehive, with the idea being that the grandstands would blend in easily with the countryside. In 1982, the stands were renovated and a state-of-the-art sound system was installed, making the experience just as pleasing to the ear as it is to the eye. The track is also home to the North Carolina Aquarium, which is open year round and offers close-up-views of various sea creatures, along with spectacular exhibitions on ocean life and conservation. Those interested in history can also visit the nearby Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, where costumed interpreters in colonial garb will take you back in time to experience the area’s past. On Thursday evenings during the summer, the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site also hosts living history tours of the town of Jamestown and the surrounding areas, which feature costumed interpreters who provide interesting facts about the town’s past, as well as its famous inhabitants, like William Weatherford and John Gorrie.
The charm of the place truly comes from the fans. If you visit the track’s website, you’ll notice that the majority of the content focuses on racing—specifically, NASCAR races. In fact, the site is completely free of advertising and instead relies on the generosity of its visitors to fund a small portion of the running costs. This is reflected in the track’s nickname, the People’s Speedway. It’s not uncommon to see fans attending NASCAR races dressed in full-on, period-appropriate garb—which can be quite a sight to see!
The Chase For The Cup
After the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ 2019 season ended with Ricky Sanchez winning the championship, the future of the Chase for the Cup became rather murky. Does a season-long format with multiple drivers still work in today’s NASCAR world? Despite the format change that took place after the 2018 season, many fans continue to be turned off by the multiple-driver format. Just look at the ratings for the 2020 season—which will feature just four races—compared to the 2019 season, which had a season-long finale between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
There are numerous other venues across the country where fans could flock to see their favorite NASCAR drivers battle it out for the championship. Many fans will even travel long distances just to see a particular driver go head-to-head with the rest of the field at a venue near them. However, what makes the Jamestown Nd Speedway special is that all of the drivers are local to the area. This year, four of the six races will take place at the historic track, with two more stops on the calendar for drivers in the ARCA Men’s division. The schedule for the 2020 season is loaded with top-notch racing, which should make any NASCAR fan very happy.
As a kid, I spent a good amount of time growing up watching my uncle Brian work at the track. He would often take me there for work parties during the summer and introduced me to the magic of stock car racing. It wasn’t long before I was asking when my birthday would be so I could go to the track and see my favorite drivers compete. Then, as an adult, I would bring my kids to enjoy the same experience. The fact that the track is not far from our home makes it that little bit easier to get them into the hobby. As a parent, it’s important to find ways to engage your kids in activities that they enjoy and will value in the future. For me, as for many other parents at this point, stock car racing is that activity!
The number of families that can fit into the stands at the track is rather limited, given the size of the field. Thankfully, the staff at the venue always make sure that there are plenty of high-backed seats available for those who may not want to stand the entire race. This year, the track’s capacity will rise to 7,500, which is quite the increase from the 6,000 it held previously. More importantly, the fans who do fill the stands to watch their favorite drivers race are a spirited group who truly make the place come alive. Visiting the track is like going back in time—in a good way.