NASCAR, The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, was founded by Bill France Sr. et al at the Ebony Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, on December 17, 1947, and hosted its first race on a hard sand track, the Daytona Beach Road Course, on Daytona’s Beach February 15, 1948. Today, NASCAR has the largest fan base of any sport in North America, grossing billions of dollars each year with over 1,500 races on 100 tracks in 35 states and Canada and Mexico–not bad for a sport started by an auto mechanic and a bunch of bootleggers.
NASCAR, because of its fast cars and sordid past, got off to a slow start. The first rules of the game were pretty simple: the car had to be a stock car, meaning that the car and all its parts had to be on the general market; nothing could be souped up or specialty about the car or the engine. The first sponsors of the race were alcohol, tobacco and auto-parts manufacturers. Some towns even refused to host the NASCAR races and threatened to throw the drivers in jail if they came to town-well, here’s mud in your eye.
Today, sponsors pay millions of dollars to have their logos on a NASCAR team’s car, a spot on one of the tracks, a patch on a driver’s uniform and sponsors even battle it out to get their names on programs and event calendars. Advertisers know that NASCAR fans are the most loyal advertising market on the market and will make it a point to support their favorite driver by shopping at the sponsor who is on their favorite NASCAR car. In the world of NASCAR advertising, everything is negotiable. Today the NASCAR race circuit is ran like a tournament operating on a point system which is carried from track to track-it’s not about who wins the most races per-se, it’s about who gets the most points in the Chase for the Cup.
Daytona International Speedway
The first of the top 5 NASCAR race track picks for 2014 is hands down the Daytona International Speedway . Bill France built this track himself in 1959, with funding from Pepsi Cola, General Motors, a second mortgage on his house and the sale of 300 shares of stock to local residents. France made a deal with the City of Daytona to lease the 447 acres for the 2.5 mile oval track, in a 50 year contract for $10,000 per year. Ground broke on the project November 25, 1957 and the race was moved from the Daytona Beach Road Course on February 22, 1959 when 42,000 fans attended the very first Daytona 500. Lee Petty beat Johnny Beuchamp in a photo-finish that took judges 3 days to decide.
Due to the high banking of the track, 90 percent of the race can be seen from any seat in the house. Today, International Speedway Corporation owns the track and it is the third largest single lit outdoor sports complex in the world. Renovations are scheduled to be complete in 2016 which will include 101,000 permanent seats with the ability to increase capacity to 125,000 in a pinch.
The Daytona 500 is where NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt lost his life on February 18, 2001.
Charlotte Motor Speedway
The second of the top 5 NASCAR race track picks for 2014 is the home track of NASCAR in Concorde North Carolina (13 miles outside of Charlotte). The first strictly stock race was held in Charlotte North Carolina in 1949. Bruton Smith built the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1959. Today, Speedway Motor Sports owns this 2,000 acre, 1.5-mile quad oval track. Many NASCAR race teams live in the Charlotte area.
Charlotte hosted the first World 600 Series on June 19, 1960.
Talladega Super Speedway
The third of the top 5 NASCAR race track picks of 2014 is the Talladega Super Speedway. Talladega Super Speedway is the NASCAR track that is thought to be cursed-and they are so serious, there is even a movie about it called “The Legend of Hallowdega.”
Some suspect that the track was built on top of an Indigenous American burial ground and the former residents simply are not race fans. Whatever the reason, the Talladega Super Speedway is the NASCAR track that has seen more fatalities-not just on the track itself but even in the parking lot, than any other NASCAR race track, ever…
None-the-less, this track hosts two Sprint Cup Series races-the Aarons 499 and the Geico 500; One Nationwide Series-the Aarons 312 and one Camping World Truck Series-Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca Cola. In addition to these, the ARCA Racing Series, the Talladega ARCA 200 calls the Talladega Super Speedway home.
Dover International Speedway
The fourth of the top 5 NASCAR race track picks for 2014 is the Dover International Speedway located in Dover Delaware. This 750 acre sports complex, built by Dover Motor Sports, is nicknamed the Monster Mile and its mascot is Miles the Monster. The Dover Downs Hotel and Casino sits on the property belonging to the race track. The first NASCAR race hosted on this track was the Mason Dixon 300 and ran on July 6, 1969.
Beginning on May 30 and going through June 1 in 2014, Dover International Speedway will Host two triple header race weekends:
- May 30-Lucas Oil 200, a Camping World Truck Series race
- May 31-NASCAR Nationwide Series race
- June 1-NASCAR Sprint Series race
Then the action will pick up again in September with:
- Sept 26-Drive Sober 150 (Hosted by the Delaware Highway Patrol)
- Sept 27-NASCAR Nationwide Series
- Sept 28-AAA 400 (a NASCAR Sprint Series race).
This track is event three in the ten race chase for the NASCAR Sprint Series Cup.
Richmond International Raceway
Last but not least in the top 5 NASCAR race track picks for 2014 is the 1,000 acre multi-purpose Richmond International Raceway . This ¾ mile D-shaped track sold out 33 consecutive Sprint Series races with the streak ending in 2008 when the economy tanked and Hurricane Hanna hit.
This NASCAR race track hosts the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series. The Nationwide race on this track is 250 laps and the Sprint race is 400 laps.
For more fun facts about NASCAR and its top 5 race tracks check out:
Spider Post-NASCAR Over the Decades