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Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Charlotte Motor Speedway
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Official Site: charlottemotorspeedway.com
Wikipedia: Charlotte Motor Speedway

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A 1.5-mile quad oval racetrack in Concord, North Carolina near Charlotte. Its proximity to most of NASCAR's team headquarters have made it NASCAR's "home track." Opened in 1960, it also operated under the name Lowe's Motor Speedway from 1998-2009.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Charlotte Motor Speedway page on 5 July 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Charlotte Motor Speedway was designed and built by Bruton Smith and partner and driver Curtis Turner in 1959. The first World 600 NASCAR race was held at the 1.5 mi (2.4 km) speedway on June 19, 1960. On December 8, 1961, the speedway filed bankruptcy notice. Judge J.B. Craven of US District Court for Western North Carolina reorganized it under Chapter 10 of the Bankruptcy Act; Judge Craven appointed Robert "Red" Robinson as the track's trustee until March 1962. At that point a committee of major stockholders in the speedway was assembled, headed by A.C. Goines and furniture store owner Richard Howard. Goines, Howard, and Robinson worked to secure loans and other monies to keep the speedway afloat.

By April 1963 some $750,000 was paid to twenty secured creditors and the track emerged from bankruptcy; Judge Craven appointed Goines as speedway president and Howard as assistant general manager of the speedway, handling its day-to-day operations. By 1964 Howard become the track's general manager, and on June 1, 1967, the speedway's mortgage was paid in full; a public burning of the mortgage was held at the speedway two weeks later.

Smith departed from the speedway in 1962 to pursue other business interests, primarily in banking and auto dealerships from his new home of Rockford, IL. He became quite successful and began buying out shares of stock in the speedway. By 1974 Smith was more heavily involved in the speedway, to where Richard Howard by 1975 stated, "I haven't been running the speedway. It's being run from Illinois." In 1975 Smith had become the majority stockholder, regaining control of its day-to-day operations. Smith hired H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler as general manager in October 1975, and on January 29, 1976, Richard Howard resigned as president and GM of the speedway.

Together Smith and Wheeler began to implement plans for improvement and expansion of the speedway.

In the following years, new grandstands and luxury suites were added along with modernized concessions and restrooms to increase the comfort for race fans. Smith Tower, a 135,000 square feet (12,500 m2), seven-story facility was built and connected to the grandstands in 1988. The tower houses the speedway corporate officers, ticket office, gift shop, leased offices and The Speedway Club; and exclusive dining and entertainment facility. The speedway became the first sports facility in America to offer year round living accommodations when 40 condominia were built overlooking turn 1 in 1984, twelve additional condominium units were later added in 1991.

In 1992, Smith and Wheeler directed the installation of a $1.7 million, 1,200-fixture permanent lighting system around the track developed by Musco lighting. The track became the first modern superspeedway to host night racing, and was the largest lighted speedway until 1998 when lights were installed around the 2.5 miles (4.0 km) Daytona International Speedway. In 1994, Smith and Wheeler added a new $1 million, 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) garage area to the speedway's infield.

In 1995, 26-year-old Russell Phillips was killed in one of the most gruesome crashes in auto racing history.

From 1997 to 1999 the track hosted the Indycar Series. On lap 61 of the 1999 race, a crash led to a car losing a tire, which was then propelled into the grandstands by another car. Three spectators were killed and eight others were injured in the incident. The race was canceled shortly after, and the series has not returned to the track since. The incident, along with a similar incident in July 1998 in a Champ Car race at Michigan International Speedway, led to new rules requiring cars to have tethers attached to wheel hubs to prevent tires from breaking away in a crash. Also following the crash, the catch fencing at Charlotte and other SMI owned tracks was raised from 15 feet (4.6 m) high with 3 feet (0.91 m) overhangs to 21 feet (6.4 m) with 6 feet (1.8 m) overhangs to help prevent debris from entering the stands.

In February 1999, Lowe's bought the naming rights to the speedway, making it the first race track in the country with a corporate sponsor. Lowe's chose not to renew its naming rights after the 2009 NASCAR season. The track reverted to its original name, Charlotte Motor Speedway, in 2010.

In 2005, the surface of the track had begun to wear since its last repaving in 1994. This resulted in track officials diamond-grinding the track, a process known as levigation, to smooth out bumps that had developed. The ground surface caused considerable tire-wear problems in both of the NASCAR races that year. Both races saw a high number of accidents as a result of tire failure due to the roughness of the surface. In 2006, the track was completely repaved.

Track president "Humpy" Wheeler retired following the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, 2008, and was replaced by Marcus Smith. At the end of 2008, the speedway reduced capacity by 25,000 citing reduced ticket sales. At the same time, the front stretch seats were upgraded from 18 inches (460 mm) fold down seats to 22 inches (560 mm) stadium style seats that were acquired from the recently demolished Charlotte Coliseum. On September 22, 2010, the speedway announced a partnership with Panasonic to install the world's largest high definition video board at the track. The video board measures approximately 200 feet (61 m) wide by 80 feet (24 m) tall, containing over nine million LEDs and is situated between turn 2 and 3 along the track's backstretch. It has since been surpassed in size by the video board at Texas Motor Speedway. The track demolished the Diamond Tower Terrace grandstand on the backstretch in 2014 to reduce the track's seating capacity to 89,000. Charlotte Motor Speedway reduced their seating capacity by 31% due to the continuing lacking attendance. This downfall of attendance has not only been felt at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but all throughout NASCAR, thus causing Daytona International speedway to go through renovations, also reducing seating.


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
12 April 2016Today Business Relationship Management Institute (BRMI) kicks off BRMConnect 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Club!Business Relationship Management Institute
20 May 2016DC Solar and Charlotte Motor Speedway Promote Revolutionary Green Technology During 10 Days of NASCAR ThunderDC Solar
11 January 2017In Honor of Charlotte Motor Speedway Being Named ``Outstanding Facility of the Year''Congressional Record: Rep. Richard Hudson


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