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Lowe's Motor Speedway - The Center of the NASCAR World

Updated on September 13, 2007
The Beast of the Southeast
The Beast of the Southeast

Lowe's Motor Speedway, formerly known as Charlotte Motor Speedway, is one of the cornerstones on the NASCAR circuit. Located in Concord, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte, the track was designed and built in 1959 by Bruton Smith, the current chairman of the speedway, and by Curtis Turner, one of the early stars of stock car racing. The speedway complex features a 1.5-mile oval track and seats 167,000 people, with room for 50,000 more in the infield.

In 1949, the first race in NASCAR history was run in Charlotte on a small dirt track near the airport. Racing continued in Charlotte throughout the 1950s, and by the end of the decade several people wanted to build a superspeedway in the area. Smith and Turner saw their dream realized, and on June 19, 1960, the first World 600 was run at the facility. The World 600 is racing's endurance test, and the first race was memorable because the pavement came apart.

Besides the main oval, the speedway also has a 2.25-mile road course in the infield, a quarter-mile oval that encompasses pit road and a portion of the front stretch, and a 0.2-mile oval outside of the third turn. There is also a dirt track, which opened in 2000, across Highway 29 from the speedway. This facility has nearly 15,000 seats and hosts the Dirt Late Models, Modifieds, Sprint Cars, Monster Trucks and more.

Lowe's Motor Speedway hosts three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events, two NASCAR Busch Series races and a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event each year on the 1.5-mile superspeedway. The track is a base for the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and the Fast Track High Performance Driving School also uses the track throughout the year. Other racing events at the complex include a short-track series for Legends Cars, Bandoleros and Thunder Roadsters, and World Karting Association regional, national and international races.

The facility also hosts one of the country's biggest car shows and swap meets - the Food Lion Auto Fair, held in April and September each year. Movies such as "Stroker Ace," "Days of Thunder," and "Speedway" were filmed at the track. The speedway is frequently rented for race team testing and automobile manufacturer research. If all track rentals and track events are factored in, the speedway is normally in use more than 300 days per year.

Lowe's Motor Speedway is considered to be stock car racing's home track. Over 75 percent of Nextel Cup, Busch and Truck series teams have their headquarters within a 50-mile radius of the speedway.

The speedway is also considered to be a trendsetter in racing because so many things that have become common throughout the sport began as innovations here. An example of this can be seen in the condominiums in Turn 1. When the idea for building them was proposed in 1984, it was the subject of jokes across the country. However, the 40 condominiums were quickly purchased and have soared in value.

In 1991, track president Humpy Wheeler proposed that The Winston all-star race be run at night. At that point, it wasn't even known if it was possible for a 1.5-mile track to be adequately lit for a race. The lighting system was installed in 1992, making the facility the first modern superspeedway to be able to present racing at night. Today, an increasing number of superspeedways have lights. Most of those tracks use technology that originated with making night racing a reality at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The speedway is owned by Speedway Motorsports, which makes its corporate home on the same property. In 1999, Lowe's purchased the naming rights, making it the first racetrack in the country to have a corporate sponsor.

Interesting Facts:

  • During a typical race week, visiting fans and tourists in the area can increase the size of Concord by over 200,000 people, temporarily making it the third largest city in North Carolina.

  • In May of 2006, the premiere of the Pixar movie "Cars" was shown at the speedway.


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