One of America’s most historic tracks, the Winchester Speedway, has announced it will be closing its doors for good this year. The news comes as quite a shock for fans who have been going there for more than 90 years and for drivers who have graced its pristine asphalt every year.
The speedway’s last scheduled race will be the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race on August 31st. Although there is still time to make some last-minute plans to see one of America’s great racing venues one more time, there is nothing anyone can do to stop the track from shutting down for good.
Winchester, one of the original seven NASCAR tracks, first opened its doors in 1926. At the time, it was a simple dirt track that had a grand opening race for fans in which they could attend in person. These days, the speedway is a fully paved track that is often the site of epic battles between cars and trucks. It is also one of the most historic tracks in the country, with several iconic races having taken place there, including the famous 500-mile race won by Al Unser in his 1960s-era Midget car.
Since that time, the speedway has gone through a number of ownership changes. It was purchased by the city of Winchester in the 1970s and has been operated there ever since. In July 2019, the city announced plans to finally close the track down for good, citing excessive expenses and lack of financial support as their main reasons.
Stopping A Legend
The legendary speedway will no doubt be missed by fans and racers alike. Since the facility is in Winchester, a town of just under 100,000 people, fans can expect a packed house every night of the week in the summer. Those who love their motorsport and Americana will especially miss going there—a true gem of a race track.
The news that the speedway is closing comes as somewhat of a surprise, as the city had leased out the track for another three years. City officials stated that while they weren’t thrilled about the closing, they were at least expecting it to be temporary. There is still time for one final hurrah for the legendary track before it goes dark for good.
When Is The Next NASCAR Race At Winchester Speedway?
The next NASCAR race at the legendary track is the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Night Race on September 7th. The speedway will also host a Camping World Truck Series race on September 7th, a Whelen Modified Tour race on September 14th and a second Cup Series event on October 4th.
After that, it’s demolition time for the city’s premier outdoor racetrack. For more information on the next race at Winchester Speedway, fans should check the speedway’s website or follow them on Twitter @WinchesterSpeedway.
A Historic Track, No Longer Open To the Public
The speedway is a historic track, and it continues to operate as such today. While it is still open to some degree—mostly school events and day races—visitors to the stadium must now pay to get in. Back in July 2019, the grandstands were closed, with all public access having been restricted. The only people who can now get a peek at the action are those who pay for an event package (currently eight grand per person) or who attend one of the track’s annual festivals.
Even though the gates are closed, those who want to experience a piece of American racing history can go onto the track and take a look at the cars and drivers from 75 years ago. The speedway is a part of Winchester’s history, and it will be sorely missed.
How Do I Get To Winchester Speedway?
Winchester Speedway is located just west of I-95 and south of Rte 15. Those who live in or near Winchester should find it easy to get there. Just follow the signs and keep your eyes open for approaching races.
The speedway is open every day of the week in the summer and on race weekends. There is no admission charge, and a driver’s or spectator’s pass costs just $5. On non-race days, an ordinary ticket is $20. Senior citizens and children under 12 are admitted free.
Those who want to get a closer look at the cars and drivers should consider buying a ticket to one of the speedway‘s festivals or a membership in one of its online fan clubs. At the very least, they can go to the track and take a walk around the historic grandstands.
What Is The Track Like?
Winchester Speedway has a lot to offer prospective visitors. Anyone who loves their motorsport history should head straight for the archives. The speedway houses the Hall of Fame and numerous other exhibits chronicling the history of the track. The infield includes the Vintage Windshield Museum, which is filled with old race cars and other vehicles, and the Carriages of History, which are five restored chariots from the 1800s. These days, the cars from the Carriage Hall are mostly used for parades during the year, as there is no charge to enter the venue.
In addition to the above-mentioned attractions, the track is also home to the Jimmy Spencer Museum, which honors the career of the track’s first African-American driver. The speedway recently underwent a $1.5 million renovation, and both the museum and the track were reopened in April 2019.
On the outside, the grandstands are still standing and, due to recent renovations, look even better than before. There are also a handful of shops and restaurants scattered around the track’s perimeter. Overall, it’s a very family-friendly destination, which is a plus for those who want to bring children. The track is also dog-friendly, so dogs can sit with their owners in the stands. In fact, there are a number of spots where dogs are allowed to run around, so they can keep up with their humans. The stadium’s layout is a modified Texas oval, and the surface is still pristine, despite the track’s being open for more than 90 years.
Is It Worth Visiting?
Considering the above, the answer is an unequivocal YES! Visitors to Winchester Speedway can experience a piece of American racing history, and it is safe to say they will not get the opportunity to see or do anything like this again. While it is sad to see such a grand old stadium close its doors for good, at least the city can celebrate the fact that it will not be turned into a shopping mall. The place will be remembered for quite some time as the site of some of America’s great races, especially the legendary 500-mile race. To paraphrase Tony Stewart, the place is like a time machine—you can look but you can’t touch. Hopefully, those who love old cars and vintage memorabilia will be able to hang onto some of it for the rest of their lives.
For others, the answer is dependent on where they want to live. Although Winchester is west of I-95, the area is prone to flooding from the Chesapeake Bay. Thus, it depends on where you want to park your car whether you should visit or not. If you’re planning to park on the street, then yes, it’s probably worth going, but if you’re able to find a garage, then there is no other option but to dismiss it as a day out.
Should I Visit Winchester Speedway?
In order to answer this question, one needs to consider a number of things, not the least of which is one’s budget. The track is currently charging admission, but those who want to see one of America’s greatest landmarks can get a glimpse of it for free. The only people who should visit the stadium, aside from those who live or work there, are people who have a genuine passion for old cars and Americana. Those who love vintage cars and racing will not want to miss out on going there. For a more in-depth review, read our in-depth guide where we cover everything from ticket prices to what time the sun rises at Winchester Speedway. Thanks for reading! We hope this article will help you make the right decision regarding whether or not to visit Winchester.