What Happened At Cochran Motor Speedway? [Fact Checked!]

On September 22, 1957, Bill and Mildred Cochran opened their motor sports complex in Lakeland, Florida, which they named after their favorite racing driver, “Clyde” Cole Cochran. Their goal was to create a top-quality facility that could house all types of motorsport events, from IndyCar speedway races to vintage car shows and even dog sledging! Bill and Mildred were well-known for their generosity, so it’s no surprise that the complex they created would serve as a safe haven for local and visiting motorsport fans.

World’s Most Famous Race Track

Over the years, the small town of Lakeland has grown considerably, and today the race track is located in the heart of the city. Even though the facility is now surrounded by skyscrapers, it still operates as a private club and is open to the public only on select days as a favor to its members. The 1.9km oval is considered by many to be the best oval track in the world, and for good reason. It hosted the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 and has been the setting for many memorable victories and world records. The track was also the starting point of Richard Petty’s legendary 1969 season, during which he won 12 out of 14 races and became the first driver to win the NASCAR Grand National Championship. Even if you’ve never heard of the place, you’ve probably seen it on TV; the track is often used as a location for racing movies and popular television series, such as The Dukes of Hazzard, Baywatch, and Monster Truck Madness. You’ll also find photos of celebrities holding court at the Lakeland Hotel, which stands adjacent to the track. During the filming of Revenge of the Nerf, a fire broke out at the hotel, which was completely destroyed. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

NASCAR Rallies And Motorcycle Racing

The racetrack has always been a popular location for auto racing enthusiasts because of its diverse programing. Besides hosting IndyCar and other open-wheel races, like the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500, the speedway also hosts the NASCAR racing season, which includes Monster Truck Madness, NASCAR Womens’ Championship, and numerous supporting races. There are also motorcycle races throughout the year, which continue to grow in popularity. In 2010, there were nearly 40,000 people in attendance at the Lakeland Motorcycle Classic, which was almost as many as there were at the Daytona Beach Winter Tourist Trophy, which was held just a month before in January.

The track’s success in attracting races and fans is largely credited to its unique blend of luxury and sportsmanship. While the complex was undoubtedly built with mansions in mind, the Coggins family, who own the place, still owns and operates a gas station a few minutes away. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, John Coggins said, “I still drive by there every day, and I’ve been coming to the gas station since it was built in 1926. I’ve never turned away from a paying customer, and I never will.” The reporter for the Tribune added, “Many people believe that the generous treatment of customers is one of the reasons why so many race cars and motorcycles seem to be parked outside the station.” When asked if having all of these vehicles on the property was a way of life for the Coggins family, John Coggins replied that it was, and he even went on to say that they had a lot more guests than memberships, which is certainly true.

Sports World-Class Amenities

The complex provides guests with first-class amenities, including a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and over 100 guestrooms, many of which have been updated with modern conveniences like microwaves, refrigerators, and coffee makers. If you’re looking for a vacation, the Cogginses can’t offer you the luxury of a cruise or a first-class flight, but they can put you up in a spacious room alongside some of the greatest race cars in the world. Just make sure to book your tee time well in advance if you want to meet the racing celebrities that frequent the place; aside from the odd appearance at a gas station, this is usually the only place that you’ll see them. Once you get to meet them, though, you’ll know why they come back year after year.

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