Mean Personality Earns Track New Nickname
And capitalizing on that tough reputation, speedway officials have launched a marketing campaign that brands the 1.5-mile quad-oval as "The Beast of the Southeast."
"Over almost a half century, the track has emerged a true beast, so why deny it?" said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "Its mean reputation is very well known among the competitors, but this campaign will reinforce the fact with the fans."
Speedway officials will use The Beast of the Southeast logo and theme in print and electronic advertising; as part of multiple direct-mail campaigns; and on the track's web site. An extensive line of The Beast of the Southeast souvenirs is also being developed.
Unlike football, baseball and basketball where all the playing fields have exactly the same dimensions, each NASCAR race track is unique.
"NASCAR racing, once aptly described by 1980 Formula One champion Alan Jones as a 'black art,' has evolved into a sport where each of the playing fields has its own quirks," Wheeler explained. "Talladega is big, wide and fast and, like placid water, will lull a driver into complacency until 15 or 20 cars start playing pinball at 190 mph. Bristol's straightaways are almost non-existent, and then the car slams into the banked turns which are so high the driver can't see around them.
"Charlotte Motor Speedway is narrow; uphill on the frontstretch and downhill on the backstretch. It has a very mysterious entrance to Turn 1; a fourth turn so tight it has scared even the sport's toughest drivers; and the new pavement has made it one of the smoothest and fastest speedways in America."
The repaving of Charlotte Motor Speedway, completed prior to last year's Coca-Cola 600, required in excess of 10,000 tons of asphalt and literally gave the venerable superspeedway a new attitude.
"When we repaved the track using computer technology, we got perhaps the smoothest surface in racing history," Wheeler said. "With this smooth surface, came more grip and our races were really close and competitive, which isn't easy to do with the current aero-dependent NEXTEL Cup cars.
"But, we also noticed that if a driver takes his eye off the ball for a second, he is in the wall or spinning out. We don't know why, but this track has become fundamentally different and has developed a 'mean' spirit," Wheeler added. "What is a mean track? It's one that is fast, racy, unpredictable, subject to huge changes in temperature and one that requires a gifted driver to get to victory lane."
Veteran drivers Dale Jarrett, Joe Nemechek and Ricky Rudd have combined for 125 NEXTEL Cup starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway and each believes The Beast of the Southeast is an appropriate name for the tough race track.
"Your car has to be right or the track will reach out and bite you, just like a beast," explained Nemechek, who will drive the No. 13 Ginn Racing Chevrolet this season. "The track has so much grip that it gives you a sense that there is nothing you can do wrong, and then all of a sudden you are backward. When you have a 3,400-pound stock car going around there, it is just trying to rip the tires off it. That makes it really tough."
"Charlotte Motor Speedway is really a difficult track to negotiate, so the new nickname is pretty good," said Jarrett, driver of the No. 44 UPS Toyota. "The track is so fast and so much fun to drive, but it has a unique personality. Going over the hump in Turn 1 and wondering where you are going to land is always interesting. And the competition level is just incredible."
"Charlotte Motor Speedway is a tough race track and it has been since I first raced there in the mid-1970s," said Rudd, who returns to the series this season in the No. 88 Snickers Ford. "It sure hasn't gotten any easier, and the speeds have definitely gotten faster."
Tickets for all 2007 events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including the May 19 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 27 Coca-Cola 600, are now available and can be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online.