For over 50 years, North Carolina’s own Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, has attracted visitors and race fans from far and wide to its legendary 1.5-mile racetrack and NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Speedway’s 2,000 acre, world-class entertainment and motor sports complex, along with the newer, state-of-the-art Hall of Fame, generate an economic impact of over $450 million annually, hosting 3 major race events, dozens of smaller events, and tours of each that are suitable for racecar fans of all ages.
History of the Speedway
Once the location of a working plantation during the Civil War, the land on which the Speedway sits is steeped in history. Sixty years ago, current chairman and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee O. Bruton Smith designed the complex along with the late Curtis Turner, another Hall of Famer and one of stock car racing’s earliest stars. Smith, a car dealer at the time, was also a stock car racing promoter at Concord Motor Speedway while Turner, whose wealth came from success in the lumber industry, soon became one of the first NASCAR drivers on the new circuit. In June of 1960 the two legends’ dream of a developing a super 1.5 mile raceway came to fruition with the first running of the World 600 race in the new facility. Multiple other historic milestones soon followed:
1961: The track falls into bankruptcy. Smith departs, then returns in 1975 as major stockholder in control of day-to-day operations. The facility continues to develop according to new industry standards, with thousands of new seats, luxury suites, and food concessions added over the following years.
1984: Charlotte Motor Speedway becomes the only sports facility in the U.S. to feature condominiums alongside the race track, followed in 1988 by the construction of 7-story Smith Tower – a building that today contains the exclusive Speedway Club, corporate offices, ticket office and souvenir gift shop.
1992: The innovative MUSCO Lighting system – a process using mirrors to simulate daylight – is installed. Charlotte Motor Speedway becomes the first racing facility to host night auto racing. Other improvements during this era included the addition of an industrial park, home to several racing-related businesses; the addition of a 2.25-mile road course and six-tenths-mile karting route; and a natural wildlife habitat.
2000: The Dirt Track at Charlotte is completed – a clay oval facility hosting Dirt Late Models, Monster Trucks and the prestigious World of Outlaws World Finals.
2006: The Speedway becomes host to its first world premier of a major motion picture: CARS, an animated Disney/Pixar blockbuster hit. Other films such as “Days of Thunder” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” are also filmed here.
2008: Charlotte Motor Speedway completes construction of the Zmax Dragway, often called the world’s finest.
2011: The Speedway’s Fan Zone, a paved, 10-acre area, is revamped with new merchandise tents, interactive games and displays and the kid-friend Play Zone and petting zoo. The world’s largest HDTV – over 200 feet wide and 165,000 pounds in weight – is installed along the backstretch of the famous track, offering large-scale visuals visible to fans seated along the front stretch.
2012: A media center and corporate hospitality area are opened in the infield along with several elevated Pit Road Suites with some of the best racing and pit views in the industry.
2018: The Speedway’s 17-turn ROVAL™ road course oval debuts in the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400. One of NASCAR’s most difficult tracks, it features left- and right-hand twists and turns and a 45-foot change in elevation. It remains the only NASCAR course in which every turn is visible from the main seating area.
Major Events and Entertainment
The 1.5-mile superspeedway plays host to multiple major events each year, including the upcoming Bank of America Roval™ 400 in September, the NHRA Carolina Nationals in October, and World of Outlaws World Finals in November. Other fun yearly events include the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout; the REV! WHITE! BOOM! Autograph Session and Fireworks; the Coca-Cola 600; the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event; and the year-round Racing School experiences, including the Richard Petty Driving Experience, NASCAR Racing Experience, Mario Andretti Racing Experience and more.
An impressive 300 days each calendar year are utilized for various events at the Speedway’s multiple attractions. Several of the nation’s largest swap meets and car shows also take place here – the bi-annual AutoFair, in April and September, the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals every October, and the Speedway’s light-themed Christmas show, in November and December.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame, attached to the downtown Charlotte Convention Center, is another facility gaining worldwide attention as the world’s only interactive attraction honoring the legacy of NASCAR, including past and present owners, drivers and crew members. Since opening in 2010, the venue has included artifacts, hands-on exhibitions, a theater, broadcast studio, restaurant and fan-focused gear shop.
Find out more about when, where and how to visit the Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR Hall of fame, here