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Charlotte Motor Speedway Race Car Track

Updated on June 28, 2013

One of the most popular tracks in NASCAR is the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Three weekends a year, the track is host to the top stock car racing series in the nation. The track is known as the Mecca of Motorsports.


Charlotte Motor Speedway as viewed from space.
Charlotte Motor Speedway as viewed from space. | Source

History of Charlotte Motor Speedway

The Charlotte Motor Speedway was constructed by its founder O. Bruton Smith in 1959 with Curtis Turner. The first 600-mile race at the track was held in 1960. The track fell into bankruptcy early in its history, but it was able to secure financing and the owners were able to pay off the mortgage in 1967.

After the bankruptcy, Smith bought shares to gain a controlling interest in the speedway and hired Humpy Wheeler in the 1970s to run the track. The track was the first major speedway to install lights in 1992. Some short tracks had permanent lighting, but Charlotte was the first track over 1 mile to install permanent lights.

The Indy Racing League visited the track between 1997 and 1999. A nasty crash that killed three spectators ended the 1999 race early, and Indy Cars have not been back to Charlotte since.

1999 was also notable because the track sold naming rights to Lowe's. The track was known as Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte for 10 years. In 2009, the track reverted to its previous name. The track is actually located in Concord. The track is considered the home track for many teams that have their shops in the area.

In addition to Charlotte Motor Speedway, there is also a drag strip on the property of the speedway. A dirt track is also on site for World of Outlaws races.

Layout of Charlotte Motor Speedway

The track at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the first of the "quad ovals" on the NASCAR circuit. Other tracks have since taken the same layout. Atlanta Motor Speedway was reconfigured in the 1990s to mimic the scheme, albeit the track is a bit longer than Charlotte. Texas Motor Speedway is also a quad-oval, which is a characteristic of many Speedway Motor Sports tracks.

A lap at Charlotte Motor Speedway measures 1.5 miles. The track banks 24 degrees in the turns and 5 degrees on the backstretch and the front stretch that contains the quad oval. This area is considered one of the more difficult parts of the track for drivers to navigate. The track can currently seat 134,000 fans.

Charlotte Motor Speedway at Night

Night racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway is popular. Here is a view from the quad-oval area, watching cars as they exit turn 4.
Night racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway is popular. Here is a view from the quad-oval area, watching cars as they exit turn 4. | Source

Races at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Charlotte is one of only two tracks to host more that two major Sprint Cup races each year (the other being Daytona). Two are points-paying races, and the third is the Sprint Cup All-star Race. The race teams spend the last two weekends of May at the track each year. The weekend before Memorial Day hosts the All-star Race, which has had many different formats over the years it has been in operation.

The biggest race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the top three or four most prestigious races in NASCAR. Each year on Memorial Day weekend, the track hosts the Coca-Cola 600 (formerly known as the World 600). This is the longest major oval-track race in North America. The race begins in the afternoon and ends after sunset, so many cars will have to adjust to the changing conditions. A few drivers have driven in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coke 600 on the same day. Included in this list are Tony Stewart, John Andretti and Robby Gordon.

In early October, the Sprint Cup series returns for a 500 mile race. This used to be a day race, but in the past few years, the race has started during the daylight and finished under the lights for prime time exposure.

A Lap at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the Richard Petty Driving Experience

Records at Charlotte Motor Speedway

The record for the fasted Coca-Cola 600 on record was Kasey Kahne's 2012 win. Kahne finished in just over 3 hours, 51 minutes for an average speed of 155.687 miles per hour. Jeff Gordon's win in the 1999 500-mile race was the fastest race for that length. Gordon finished in 3 hours, 7 minutes and 31 seconds for an average speed of 160.306 miles per hour.

Denny Hamlin set the record for a qualifying lap at 27.604 seconds. Hamlin averaged 195.624 miles per hour on this circuit around the track.

Darrell Waltrip won the most Coca-Cola 600s in history with 5 victories in NASCAR's longest race. The last of these wins came in 1989. Waltrip also won the 500-mile race in 1981, and his total of six wins is the most in the track's history.

A markerCharlotte Motor Speedway -
Charlotte Motor Speedway Park and Ride, Concord, NC 28027, USA
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