Archive for the ‘Racin’’ Category

Turnin’ Left and Looking to the Future… NASCAR’s Rise


RacingThis past Sunday I once again was present for the running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. This represents the 19th consecutive time that I have attended the race with my Father and some close friends.

If you’ve never been to a NASCAR race, you really should go sometime — it simply isn’t the same on television as it is in person. I won’t say that it is necessarily better (some people hate sitting in the stands to watch a race, just because of the crowds) but it is definitely different. I have attended races at a number of tracks, and I can honestly say that — in my opinion — the facilities at Lowe’s Motor Speedway are about as nice as you will find. Furthermore, the entire atmosphere at LMS is geared toward being fan-friendly, and improving the experience of the common fan.

LMS Fisheye ShotAll of that aside, I have followed racing — with wildly varying degrees of intensity — for quite a while now. Things, however, have changed so much since I first became a race fan, that it almost seems like a different sport. Names, cars, colors — pretty much from top to bottom NASCAR is nothing like it was back in the late 1980’s when I first started watching the sport. In some ways it is surprising that a sport which proudly proclaims its dedication to “traditional” values — and which often targets a politically conservative fan base — would so embrace radical and unending change.

There is no question that, since the advent of the current television broadcast model used by NASCAR — a 50% split of races between Fox Sports and ESPN / Speed (previously with NBC Sports) — racing has been propelled from the second tier of sports to one of the mainstays. Whether that is tied to the increased coverage, or vice versa is open to debate. Either way, the drivers and teams are no longer just “average joes” who like to speed on Sundays, but maintain an otherwise fairly normal existence during the week. The drivers of today are superstars and command a following which rivals that attributed to many professional sports teams.

So too, gone are the sleepy little racetracks sitting idly by in a cow pasture in the middle of nowhere. The tracks of today are gigantic motorsports super-plexes which seat ridiculous numbers of people and define the surrounding landscape in a way which surpasses even the great “temples” of college and professional sports. Lowe’s Motor Speedway, for instance, seats a whopping 167,000 people (almost twice the size of Neyland Stadium) in an arc surrounding its 1.5 mile quad-oval track. The entire track is lit by 1,200 light fixtures, allowing night racing. The main garage is over 20,000 square feet. In addition to the main track, the facility includes a dirt track, a 2.5 mile road course, and will soon include an drag strip intended to host NHRA events. On top of all of this, it includes two towers of condominiums above the first turn, which serve as year-round residences as well as race day event locations, and a bevy of luxury suites.

Lowe\'s Motor Speedway Lit Up

Lowe’s Motor Speedway and First-Turn Condo Towers Illuminated by 1,200 Light Fixtures

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