Charlotte Motor Speedway
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Charlotte Motor Speedway, a top destination for motorsports entertainment, is located in Concord, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte. Charlotte boasts a fast track and the nickname “The Beast of the Southeast.” H.A. “Humpy Wheeler,” president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, states that the racetrack is “narrow, uphill on the frontstretch and downhill on the backstretch” and that it has “a very mysterious entrance to Turn 1” plus “a fourth turn so tight it has scared even the sport’s toughest drivers.” Wheeler points out that after the track was repaved in 2006 using computer technology, “we got perhaps the smoothest surface in racing history,” and “with this smooth surface came more grip, and our races were really close and competitive.” The track is labeled “mean” because it is “fast, racy, unpredictable, subject to huge changes in temperature and one that requires a gifted driver to get to victory lane.” Dale Jarrett won at Charlotte in 1994, 1996, and 1997. Racing fans may remember Charlotte as the site of Days of Thunder and the world premier of the animated movie CARS.
Safety at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Safety at Charlotte Motor Speedway is enhanced by Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers on all four turns, the quad oval, and the inside retaining wall of the backstretch. With enough seats for more than 165,000 guests, Charlotte Motor Speedway is equipped to handle the roaring crowds it attracts on professional race days.
Length: 1.5 miles
Banking: 24° turns, 5° straightaways
Frontstretch length: 1,980 feet
Backstretch length: 1,500 feet
Seating capacity: 165,000
5555 Concord Parkway South
Concord, North Carolina, 28027
Take I-395 S to I-95 S
Merge onto I-85 S via Exit 51 toward Durham/Atlanta
Take Speedway Blvd. Exit, Exit 49
Turn left onto Speedway Blvd.
Turn left onto Concord Pkwy S/US-29 N
Charlotte Motor Speedway is at 5555 Concord Pkwy S.
Take I-95 N to Exit 35B on the left toward International Airport/Savannah
Merge onto I-26 W via Exit 86B toward Columbia
Merge onto I-77 N via Exit 116 toward Charlotte
Merge onto I-85 N via Exit 13A toward Greensboro
Take the Speedway Blvd. Exit, Exit 49 toward Concord Mills Blvd.
Turn right onto Speedway Blvd.
Turn left onto Concord Pkwy S/US-29 N.
Charlotte Motor Speedway is at 5555 Concord Pkwy S.
Description of Concord, North Carolina:
Named one of the “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine in 2006, in 2004 Concord was one of the 10 winners of the All-America City Award sponsored by the National Civic League. Concord is home not only to Charlotte Motor Speedway but also to several professional racing teams - Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Chip Ganassi Racing. Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure is approximately one hour and 10 minutes away from Concord, in Newton, NC. An area long known for its cotton mills, Concord’s cotton-related history is celebrated in Charlotte’s Levine Museum of the New South, whose award-winning “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers” exhibition has been called “One of the best exhibitions in the Southeast.”
Things To See and Do:
Charlotte Motor Speedway was designed and built in 1959 by current chairman O. Bruton Smith, who was in partnership with the late Curtis Turner, one of stock car racing’s earliest driving stars. The speedway is named for Charlotte Home Improvement Warehouse, which bought the naming rights to it in 1999, earning the speedway the distinction of being the country’s first racetrack with a corporate sponsor. Hailed as the first speedway to host nighttime superspeedway racing, which began in 1992, it is also one of the few to offer year-round residences in the form of 52 condominiums positioned over Turn 1.
In addition to its main oval, the speedway has a 2.25-mile road course, and a 0.6-mile kart course in the infield, as well as a 0.4-mile dirt track across U.S. Highway 29 that opened in May 2000. The 0.6-mile oval short track located between the track’s frontstretch and pit road was built in 1991 for a Legends race as part of the Winston weekend and was designed after Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which is one of stock car racing’s legendary venues.
The racetrack’s surface had started wearing down since its 1994 paving, and in 2005, it was treated with a diamond-grinding process termed “levigation” to smooth out the bumps. This process caused significant tire problems, however, which were in evidence at both NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events there and resulted in a record 22 cautions at the showcase Coca-Cola 600, which ended up going over five hours¾the first time this happened at any Sprint Cup Series event in 25 years. The levigation also caused speed increases. Because of these problems, the speedway was repaved in 2006.
Charlotte is regarded as NASCAR’s home base, since 90% of NASCAR teams are based within 50 miles of it. Charlotte Motor Speedway holds more than 380 events per year, including numerous races and events such as the Food Lion Auto Fair, one of the largest car shows in the country.
Charlotte is still evolving, however. O. Bruton Smith has now unveiled plans for a state-of-the-art drag racing facility, a 46.5-acre track/pit area/midway, scheduled to be completed in September 2008.