Charlotte Motor Speedway: NC’s “Home Track”
Charlotte Motor Speedway makes NASCAR history both on and off the track. Located minutes from many of the racing teams’ shops, this 1.5-mile track has been hosting events for almost five decades and offers fans racing excitement throughout the year.
Every May the speedway and Charlotte comes alive for more than a week and it all begins with the All-Star Challenge. The race, which awards no championship points, has a unique, multi-segment format. It pits recent race winners against the top finisher from a qualifying race and another driver voted in by the fans.
During the days after the All-Star Challenge, the racing world’s attention turns to Uptown Charlotte and NASCAR’s Hall of Fame. Annual induction ceremonies for five pillars of the sport add importance to this race week while fans and participants re-connect with racing’s roots.
Each Memorial Day weekend, the track hosts the longest race on the Sprint Cup series schedule - the Coca-Cola 600. It’s at this event that former track promoter “Humpy” Wheeler set the standard for pre-race festivities. From mock military invasions in the infield to flyovers from the military’s latest hardware, you never know what to expect each year as a lead-up to the historic race.
During the annual October race, points are on the line. The Bank of America 500 is the only race run entirely under the lights during the 10-event Chase for the Sprint Cup that decides the series champion.
Race enthusiasts have the opportunity to get behind the wheel at one of the many driving schools, including the Richard Petty Driving Experience or the Jeff Gordon Driving School. Both schools offer rides in two-seat, NASCAR-type cars chauffeured by instructors. If you are more adventurous, sign up for a session that allows you to drive.
In addition to the 1.5-mile oval, the speedway grounds is home to the only four-lane concrete drag strip in the country - the ZMax Dragway. The schedule is highlighted by visits from the NHRA in the fall and in the spring when the facility hosts the only four-wide drag racing in the country. The state of the art Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts the top touring dirt race cars in the country during NASCAR weekends. In November, the World of Outlaws sprint cars, late models and big-block modifieds complete their cross-country seasons at the .4-mile clay oval, bringing fans from nearly every state.
Inside the oval used by NASCAR, the speedway has built a quarter-mile track used weekly by Bandoleros, Legends Cars and Thunder Roadsters as part of a national racing series. In October 2010, NASCAR’s oldest division, the modifieds, raced here for the first time.
With its variety of venues, Charlotte Motor Speedway meets the needs of many race teams and series. But its fans haven’t been forgotten. In 1992, a MUSCO lighting system was installed that puts all of its night racing action in plain view from each of its 160,000 seats or fan-packed infield. If you want to stay close to the action, the speedway offers a variety of camp sites from basic tent to full hook-up for RVs. Shuttles run on race days to bring you from your site to the track.
Charlotte Motor Speedway also gives you the chance to get on the track. Beginning at the gift shop, a van tour takes you through the garage area, down pit road and right to victory lane. The tour finishes with a ride around the track so you can feel the pull of 5-degree banking down the straight aways and the 24-degree banking in the corners.
Not far from the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Uptown Charlotte lies the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This state-of-the-art attraction hosts 50 hands-on exhibits, nearly 1,000 artifacts and a 278-person theater. Here fans can get a behind-the-scenes look at the history of NASCAR and how it has become an iconic sport today.
For ticket, camping or schedule information, visit charlottemotorspeedway.com.
By Peter Anderson
By Peter Anderson
added: December 10, 2008
updated: May 1, 2012