NASCAR, the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, is the governing body of motorsport in the United States. Founded in the early 20th century, the organization has sanctioned some of the most prestigious motor races in the world, including the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, and the Kentucky Derby. But over the years, the sport has struggled to keep up with the times, and several facilities have fallen by the wayside.
Indy Cars Versus NASCAR
One of the most significant changes to NASCAR in the past decade has been the shift towards Indy Cars. Since the early 2000s, open-wheel racing has made inroads into the sport, and today, Indy cars account for a large chunk of the fields of the biggest races.
The difference between NASCAR and Indy cars is that the former is a point-to-point race, while Indy cars usually conduct a race that’s more like a marathon. This means less rest days for the drivers and more action-packed races. Indy cars also use a larger-than-normal gauge stick to gauge engine performance, which doesn’t line up with the standard NASCAR scales. In addition, Indy cars are built with more sophisticated drivelines and suspension, resulting in less wear and tear on these components. These are just some of the reasons why more and more people are attracted to Indy cars compared to NASCAR. Especially since Indy cars have been known to go faster and farther than NASCAR vehicles.
Why Did Kentucky Speedway Go West?
Located in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway is one of the most historic venues in all of motorsport. The track’s first incarnation was built in 1909, with major renovations and expansions occurring throughout the 20th century. As a testament to the facility’s importance in racing, it was named the Track of the Century in 1999.
The problem is that over the years, Kentucky Speedway has become outdated. The current track is more than 100 years old, and as a result, several sections are in poor condition. The track’s grandstands also aren’t as storied as they could be; while they were designed to be state-of-the-art when the facility opened, an incredible number of them have since been closed, their seating reduced, and grandstands removed.
In 2020, Kentucky Speedway will be getting an upgrade. Plans are to completely replace the existing track with a 5.5-mile road course. Thanks to an incredible $30 million donation from industrialist and track owner Rick Hendrick, the renovations will be entirely funded; the new track is expected to open in early 2021.
Why Is Daytona Beach Island Worth a Visit?
Daytona Beach Island, located off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida, had been a part of the Land Shark Derby, a race held on the longest beach on the East Coast, since its inception in the 1960s. The year-round warm temperatures and crystal-clear water make the beach an ideal location for families and friends to enjoy a beach-type experience without needing to vacation in the winter.
The trouble is that like most beaches, the island’s popularity has led to overcrowding and infrastructure issues. Specifically, the beach is closing in on itself due to encroaching development, and the local hotels and restaurants, as a result, have seen a huge drop in revenue. There have also been numerous complaints about parking and infrastructure.
In 2020, Daytona Beach Island will once again host the famous Land Shark Derby. But this time, it will be for four-legged animals rather than human athletes. In February 2021, the first annual Beach Vets Motorcycle Obstacle Course will be held on the island, and it’s going to be unlike anything else previously held there.
What’s the Matter With Elkhart Lake?
While the state of Indiana has a lot to offer, the most interesting race venue isn’t actually inside the state borders. Elkhart Lake, located in the northeastern corner of the state, hosts a NASCAR event, the Elkhart Lake Wine and Dine 500, every year. The track was previously known as the Mishawaka Speedway, and it was built back in the 1950s.
While the facility is a historical monument that has seen its fair share of action, the track has taken a nosedive since the early 2000s. Attendance has dropped by about 70% over the past decade, the track’s promoter has had to lay off staff, and the infield side of the track is in horrible condition, with little to no maintenance. The good news is that Elkhart Lake plans to build a brand-new grandstand and restrooms area in the next few years, along with upgrading the paddock and other areas of the track to make it more comfortable for the drivers.
What About Richmond, Virginia?
The City of Richmond, located along the James River in Virginia, is home to the Richmond International Raceway. One of the most historic venues in all of motorsport, the track was originally constructed in 1906 and has seen some pretty incredible moments in its time. But like most other venues, the track has struggled with attendance in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, plans are to reopen the track, though it will be a while before it returns to its pre-pandemic glory.
Richmond International Raceway is one of the premier facilities in all of motorsport, and it has been named after legendary driver Richard Petty. But over the years, the location has become somewhat of a ghost town, with very little racing action occurring there. Construction has also become a major issue, with repeated postponements and problems resulting in the track never being finished.