Charlotte Motor Speedway was designed and built in 1959 by current chairman and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee O. Bruton Smith. The late Curtis Turner, one of stock car racing's earliest stars and another Hall of Fame inductee, served as Smith's primary business partner.
Smith, a native of Oakboro, N.C., was an automobile dealer and short-track stock car racing promoter at Concord Motor Speedway and the Charlotte Fairgrounds. Turner, a Virginian who amassed his money in the lumber industry, became one of the first drivers on the NASCAR circuit after the sanctioning body debuted in 1949.
Together, they built their dream of a 1.5-mile superspeedway on the outskirts of the Queen City and, on June 19, 1960, the first World 600 was contested at the new facility.
In 1961, like many superspeedways of the era, the track fell into Chapter 11 reorganization from which it eventually emerged despite lagging ticket sales. After his departure from the speedway in 1962, Smith pursued other business interests in Texas and Illinois. Working within Ford Motor Company's dealership program, Smith became quite successful and began purchasing shares of stock in Charlotte Motor Speedway. By 1975 Smith had again become the majority stockholder in the speedway, regaining control of its day-to-day operations.
He hired H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler as general manager and the two began to implement plans for needed improvements and expansion.
During the ensuing years, Smith and Wheeler demonstrated a commitment to customer satisfaction, building a facility that continuously established new industry standards. Thousands of grandstand seats and luxury suites were built. Food concessions and restroom facilities were added and modernized to increase the comfort of race fans. Smith Tower, a 135,000-square-foot, seven-story facility connected to the speedway's grandstands, was erected and opened in 1988. The building houses the speedway's corporate offices, ticket office, souvenir gift shop, leased office space and The Speedway Club, an exclusive
In 1984, under the direction of Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the only sports facility in America to offer year-round living accommodations when it built 40 condominiums high above turn one. Twelve additional condominium units were added in 1991.
Another innovation was a $1.7 million, 1,200-fixture permanent lighting system developed by MUSCO Lighting of Oskaloosa, Iowa. The revolutionary lighting process uses mirrors to simulate daylight without glare, shadows or obtrusive light poles.
The lighting system was installed in 1992, allowing Charlotte Motor Speedway to be the first modern superspeedway to host night auto racing.
Ever cognizant of the competitors as well as the spectators, the speedway added a new $1 million, 20,000-square-foot Monster Energy NASCAR Cup garage area in 1994.
Other additions and improvements include the development of the speedway's 2,000-plus acres. In addition to the speedway, the property, some of which is leased, includes an industrial park that serves as home to several motorsports-related businesses, a modern landfill facility operated by BFI and a natural wildlife habitat.
In addition to the 1.5-mile quad oval, the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex includes a 2.25-mile road course and a six-tenths-mile karting layout in the speedway's infield; a quarter-mile asphalt oval utilizing part of the speedway's
Three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events, two NASCAR XFINITY Series
Other events on the various tracks include the Bojangles' Summer Shootout, a summer short-track series for Legend Cars and Bandoleros and World Karting Association regional, national and international races.
In May 2000, The Dirt Track at Charlotte, a state-of-the-art, four-tenths-mile clay oval was completed across U.S. 29 from the speedway. The stadium-style facility has nearly 14,000 seats and plays host to Dirt Late Models, Modifieds, Sprint Cars, Monster Trucks and the prestigious World of Outlaws World Finals.
Corporations such as Lowe's Home Improvement, Coca-Cola,
Motion pictures such as "Days of Thunder," "Speedway," "Stroker Ace" and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," and even music videos like Tracy Lawrence's "If the Good Die Young" have been filmed at the speedway. In 2006, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the first motorsports facility to host the world premiere of a major motion picture. More than 30,000 fans along with stars such as Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt and Larry the Cable Guy were on hand for the debut of "CARS," an animated hit from Disney/Pixar. Additional rental dates are reserved for race team testing and automobile manufacturer research.
Charlotte Motor Speedway also annually presents two of the nation's largest car shows and swap meets, the Charlotte AutoFair in April and September, plus the speedway plays host to the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals each October. With track rentals and events, the speedway is used more than 300 days per year for all of its attractions, which includes Speedway Christmas - a holiday-themed light show spanning three miles over the speedway's infield,
The track added a new garage area for the NASCAR XFINITY Series, a state-of-the-art media center and additional restrooms and showers for use by those enjoying the action from the speedway's infield. In 2012, the speedway opened first-of-its-kind corporate hospitality in the infield. Six elevated Pit Road Suites, located directly
Charlotte Motor Speedway added the Bellagio of drag strips to its complex with the completion of zMAX Dragway in 2008. The state-of-the-art facility has been praised as the finest drag racing facility in the world by both fans and competitors
Building on the basic philosophy of putting fans first, Charlotte Motor Speedway continues to be the world’s leader in entertainment within its unrivaled motorsports complex.
In 2011, the speedway revamped its Fan Zone, a paved, 10-acre area located right outside the speedway's main entrance. During major events, the Fan Zone provides fans with hours of fun, from the Fanatics NASCAR merchandise tents to interactive games and displays and the Play Zone, a kid-friendly area with bounce houses, face
That same year, Charlotte Motor Speedway revolutionized the fan experience by installing the world's largest HDTV
Since its opening in 1960, Charlotte Motor Speedway has established itself as The Greatest Place to See the Race, offering a lifetime of memories for race fans throughout the world.