To put things into perspective, the longest race track in the world is actually more than 24-miles. And this is the same track that is also the home of the greatest racing show on earth, the Daytona 500. So, it’s safe to say that NASCAR is a big deal. If you’re a car enthusiast, you’ll want to find out everything there is to know about the King of the Track.
One of the best ways to learn more is by paying close attention to the various lengths of the Daytona motor speedway. Although they’re commonly known as “short tracks” because of their compact sizes, the racing venues have grown over the years to meet the demands of the fans.
Depending on which part of the speedway you’re on, the track length can vary. While the tri-oval is 3.26 miles, the backstretch is 12.19 miles long. Here’s a look at the different parts of the speedway and how long they are.
Toward the middle of the track, fans will find a circular section called the “tri-oval”. Located just inside the walls, the space has room for three rows of grandstands that stretch around the track. The area is quite similar in appearance to a bullring with its three tiers of galleries.
The grandstands themselves are another interesting feature of the tri-oval. Made of wood and steel, a single race season can see them change colors as often as 20 times due to the high speed nature of the races. A lot of history has been made here. The first-ever NASCAR race was held in Atlanta in 1949 and it wasn’t until 1963 that the sport finally gained popularity in the United States. During that time, the sport grew from an average of 500 participants to an average of 1500. In 2009, more than 23,000 people attended a NASCAR race in the tri-oval.
At the back of the track, the backstretch is an area that extends the length of the speedway. It’s here that the cars develop their speed as they move away from the tri-oval. The wide open spaces here allow the vehicles to reach high speeds without risking accidents. The longest backstretch is also one of the most historic areas of the speedway. It was here that the inaugural Indianapolis 500 took place in 1911 and it wasn’t until 2006 that the track was extended past its original 6.26 miles. This is also the starting point for the Pepsi Throwdown, a popular dirt track race held annually in the summer.
Located just past the backstretch is the infamous Turn Three. This is where drivers enter the track after exiting the long backstretch. A right-hander, the corner is named after its 90 degree angle and features a light fence to separate the drivers from the spectators. Behind the fence, fans can catch a glimpse of one of the most spectacular sights in motorsport – drivers going head-to-head while battling for position. The result of all this maneuvering is an interesting array of collisions and spectacular fireworks displays. It isn’t until after the race that fans will realize how challenging these 90 degree turns are for the drivers.
The Final Stretch
On the other side of the track, the straightaways that lead to the grandstands are called the “final stretch”. It’s also here where fans will find the famed Victory Alley. This is where drivers and their crew chiefs can celebrate a championship after the race. Also located in the final stretch is the popular NASCAR hauler, which transports the cars and their support crews to and from the track. The final straightaway is 1.85-miles long and leads to the “finish line” where the drivers will lift their hoods and show their hats in the air to signify they’ve reached the end of the race. Near the finish line are the iconic blue-striped checkered flags that fanatically waving drivers will sweep back and forth across the track to bring an end to the day’s racing action.
The Winston Salem Speedway is one of the oldest and most historic speedways in the country. Today, it is the longest of the three tracks, stretching for a whopping 24-miles. It was originally a dirt track, opening its gates in 1938. The grandstands are an interesting blend of vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages. The speedway is home to the prestigious Legends of NASCAR event that pays homage to racing greats like Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, and Curtis Turner. In 2010, more than 41,000 people attended the race there. At the end of the day, it’s clear that dirt tracks are making a resurgence in popularity, especially among older generations.
The paved Charlotte Motor Speedway opened its gates in 1955 and over the years, it has been expanded several times, most recently in 2007. Today, the speedway spans three-quarters of a mile and includes the tri-oval, backstretch, and final stretch. The track is a mixture of asphalt and concrete, measuring just under a half-mile across. It features multiple turns, a short straightaway, and a huge elevation change near the end, bringing the cars to a speedy halt. The grandstands here are also unique in that they are made entirely of wood. The track plays host to some of the biggest NASCAR events of the year, including the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, and the Bank of America 500. A single NASCAR race at the track lasts for four hours, resulting in lots of energy and action. And for those looking for a unique perspective, there is also a tower located near the backstretch that features seating that gives fans a bird’s eye view of the racing action below.
As you can see, there are many different parts to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Depending on which part of the track you’re visiting, you may notice different things. Overall, however, it’s clear that this is one of the most iconic and popular race tracks in the country – and for good reason.