Most people have heard of Charlotte Motor Speedway, thanks to its Night Race that draws thousands of spectators. But did you know that the iconic track is actually owned by someone else? The track was originally built in 1925 and is one of the most historic venues in the United States, if not the world. It originally housed the South Carolina Cup and was also a part of the Sportsman’s Championship Tour. In 1979, the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened its doors and in 1980, the Rockingham Speedway closed after more than a century of racing.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation took over the operation of Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1973 and it was not until 1978 that the track was open to the public. In fact, it wasn’t until October 1980 that the first NASCAR race took place at the venue. It was called the All-American 300 and was won by Richard Petty.
In addition to the track itself, the complex has a motel, restaurant, car dealership, and even a barber shop and beauty salon. The speedway also has a convention center that can seat up to 5,000 people and is big enough to host concerts and other large events. Across the street is the State Museum of Carolina, which is free. For those interested in history, the museum also presents exhibits about the local region’s history from prehistoric times to the present day. The museum’s next big event is the South Carolina Aquarium’s Great American Whale Watch, which will take place from July 12 to Sept 12.
The revenue of the North Carolina Department of Transportation comes mostly from gasoline taxes and other fees related to motor vehicle roadways. The department also receives funding from the general public through vehicle registration fees and parking taxes. Although the department has the legal right to seek a private investor to help it pay for the upkeep of the track, it has so far chosen not to do so. Instead, it continues to operate the speedway with limited staff and volunteer help.
The annual income of Charlotte Motor Speedway is around $6 million, which is a significant sum for a charity that provides an opportunity for marginalized people in North Carolina to get a job. The organization, called The Works, partners with area coalitions and businesses to create living-wage jobs for individuals with criminal records. They also provide training, mentoring, and job-search assistance to help people get back on their feet.
After more than a year without racing at the speedway, NASCAR officials confirmed in March 2019 that the track would be open for business in early May. The first race there was the NASCAR Whelen EuroRace, an event that was part of the international Supercars Series. It will continue to host that series and other events through 2022. There are also plans to make the track a stop on the NASCAR Cup Series in the future.
With or without NASCAR, the future of Charlotte Motor Speedway looks incredibly bright. It provides an opportunity for people who live in the region to get involved in motorsport, whether it’s watching or participating in some way. The next NASCAR event there will be the NASCAR Car Party, which is set to take place on June 29 and will include a concert by Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend.