Dover is one of the most historic racetracks in the United States. It was originally built in 1911 and is named after its founder, Walter L. Dover. The track’s current status as a part of Dover Downs is a result of a major realignment and renovation project that took place in the 1960s.
The race track is one of the first to implement a unique form of the sport that soon became popular all around the country. You will often find veterans from the First World War at the track, cheering on the competitors.
Dover Downs Respects Its History
Dover Downs is committed to preserving its rich history through various events that take place throughout the year, such as the Grandstand Restoration Project. The initiative, which is supported through a grant from the state of Delaware, will see the existing grandstands at the track rebuilt with historic material.
In addition to respecting its rich history, the track also seeks to give back to the community through its charitable arm, Dover Downs Charitable Fund. The fund supports local and national nonprofits working in the areas of education, the environment, and the community. Since its inception in 1911, the fund has contributed over $28 million to various organizations across North America, with grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. As of today, the fund has donated over $36 million to over 450 nonprofit organizations.
The Evolution Of Track And Field
The evolution of the sport of track and field can be traced back to the early 1800s, when sports such as running, jumping, and throwing events made its debut. What was originally established as a way for people to get some exercise became an obsession, with individuals traveling great distances to take part in the various track and field events.
As the sport grew in popularity, tracks started cropping up across the country. Dover Downs is one of the first tracks that you come across when traveling down the New England corridor. If you take a look at a map of the United States showing the location of tracks, you will see that they are fairly evenly spaced across the country. As a result, the sport really started to take off, with numerous organizations establishing tracks, some in an attempt to become the best, and others just trying to establish a presence in their area.
The Birth Of Modern-Day NASCAR
In 1894, Richard Brickley, the owner of a bicycle shop in the city of Brooklyn, New York, created the first ever bicycle race in America. The race, which took place on a 5-mile course, was sanctioned by the League of American Wheelmen (later to become the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, or NASCAR).
The race, which took place on a Sunday, was open to all types of vehicles, with classes for motorcycles, cycles, and carriages holding the crowds back. The event was so well-attended that it prompted the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to dub Brickley the “King of Kings”, a nickname that he would go on to embrace.
Brickley organized additional races in Brooklyn, with the very first one taking place in 1895. It was during this time that he started creating a carnival-like atmosphere, with bands playing, fans cheering, and children present. This is the environment that NASCAR was initially created for, with races being staged to allow fans to get an early peek at their favorite drivers as well as to provide a source of entertainment at local fairs and festivals. Today, over 100 years later, many of the original 5-mile courses have been converted into racetracks, with new tracks being constructed in places like California and Florida.
How Dover Downs Came To Be
Dover Downs is now owned by the Delaware Racing Association, a nonprofit group that operates the track under a long-term lease. The Association was established in 1961 and began staging races that same year. The first race at the track was held on September 11, and was won by Rex Mays, Jr. in a Chevy car.
The track continued to expand, with both dirt and paved races being staged, and a motorcycle race occurring annually. The facility was also the location of the famous “Delaware Triple Crown”, an annual series of three championship races that took place between 1964 and 1967. The Delaware Triple Crown was won by Richie Ashburn in a Bugatti in 1966, with fellow driver Lee Waller finishing second and A.J. Foyt in third.
The track continued to attract top drivers and, by the early 1970s, was considered among the prestigious venues for sports car racing in the country. Its seating capacity peaked at around 66,000 in 1972, with over 125,000 fans passing through the gates each year. That figure, however, was largely the result of the track’s historical status, with many people attending the races just for the experience of being at a racetrack.
Dover Downs underwent a major renovation project in the late 1970s, with the entire track being resurfaced, all of the seating structures being repaired or replaced, and a new entrance and lobby being constructed. In 1980, the track was further improved with the addition of a new press box, VIP suites, and an open-air sound and light system. The renovations continued in 1990, with the installation of additional VIP suites, a new outdoor trackside café, and hospitality buildings.
Since its inception, Dover Downs has staged races on an irregular basis, with only the occasional NASCAR event and horse racing fixture taking place. In recent years, however, the facility has staged several NASCAR races, with more set to take place in the near future.
The track is located in Dover, Delaware, about an hour south of Philadelphia and Baltimore, along I-95. You can easily get there by car or bus, with limited train service available from Penn Station in New York City. You should reach the track by 10:00 am, when admission is free, to get the best experience. Afternoon sessions start at around 12:00 pm, with the last race usually finishing around 5:00 pm.
Dover Downs’ current configuration is a 3.9-mile oval that features 12 seating corners, as well as a short straightaway where cars stop to change drivers. There are also some straighter corners that act as chicanes, which slow down cars going forward. The track also hosts a variety of events, including the Dover Downs Autumn Classic, held each year in the fall. Past events held include Grand-Prix-type competitions for cars and motorcycles, as well as a variety of exhibition and competition races for trucks, vans, and tractors. The track also stages various youth sports events throughout the year, with over 100 participants ranging from age 5 to 17 participating in varsity and junior varsity contests each week.
Since 2005, the Delaware Racing Association has been working with Dover Downs Charitable Fund and other nonprofits to bring back the thrill of competitive racing for as many people as possible. Through the course of a day at the track, you will see everything from vintage racecars to pickup trucks, as well as fans of all ages having fun and cheering on their favorite drivers.
One of the best things about Dover Downs is its array of restaurants and food trucks that you can take advantage of. Whether you are looking for a quick bite before the race or after the checkered flag, there is something nearby for everyone.