Lowe's Motor Speedway
(formerly Charlotte Motor Speedway) is a speedway in Concord, North Carolina, north of Charlotte.
It features a long quad-oval track that
seats 167,000 people, with room for 50,000 more spectators in the
infield. Constructed in 1959, it was the first speedway to host
nighttime superspeedway racing (in 1992) in the "modern era," the
first being the now defunct Raleigh Speedway in 1958, and to offer
year-round residences (in 1984) with 52 condominium
available over turn one.
It is owned by Speedway
, which has its corporate headquarters on the same
property. The speedway is considered the home base of NASCAR
, with 90% of NASCAR teams being based within .
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
Along with the main oval, the speedway also has a road course in
the infield, a kart
course in the infield, a
quarter-mile oval using part of the front stretch and pit road, and
an oval outside turn three. Also, across U.S. Highway
from the speedway, is a dirt track that opened in May 2000.
The oval located between the frontstretch and pit road was
constructed in 1991 for a legends race which was part of the Winston
designed after Bowman-Gray Stadium.
In 2005, the surface of the circuit had started to wear from its
last paving in mid-1994, resulting in the track's treatment in a
diamond-grinding process to smooth out bumps. This process, known
as levigation, caused major tire problems during both NASCAR NEXTEL
Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) events there, with a record 22
cautions at the showcase Coca-Cola
, which is considered one of the top five annual NASCAR
races. It was the first Sprint Cup Series
event to go more than five hours (excluding red flags) in 25 years.
Speed increases were also a result of the levigation. After the
problem with the tires, the speedway was repaved in 2006. Speeedway
President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler retired following the Coca-Cola 600
on May 25, 2008 and was replaced by Marcus Smith.
The ARCA RE/MAX Series
there until 2004. In 2001 and 2002, Blaise Alexander
and Eric Martin
were killed in
NASCAR Cup Series stats
As of 10/17/09
NASCAR Cup Series race winners
Indy Racing League history
Indy Racing League
held at the circuit in 1997
, with Buddy
and Kenny Bräck
the mid-summer Saturday night 500k (208 lap) races on the circuit.
1999, the race was moved to the first
weekend in May, the last race before the Indianapolis
On the 61st lap, a crash led to a car
losing a tire, which was then propelled into the stands by another
car. Three spectators were killed and eight others were injured in
As reported by IRL announcer Mike King, grandstands in the apex of
Turn 1 was closed, but seats in Turns 1 and 2 past the apex were
open. Seats outside of Turn 4 were also closed. When attendance
grew beyond the 50,000 expected for the race, extra sections of
stands were opened, and one of them was the section of track where
the debris flew in Turn 4. Buddy Lazier
was leading the race at the time of the caution for the Lap 62
crash. After pit stops, Greg Ray
leading the race when the race was abandoned. The race was
cancelled after 79 laps, and the IRL did not return.
incident, and a previous incident in July 1998 in a Champ Car race at Michigan which also killed three spectators (that race was
run to its finish), led to new rules requiring cars to have tethers
attached to wheel hubs in an effort to prevent such incidents from
New catch fencing was also invented, curved
so debris could not sail as easily into the grandstands.
Following the accident, a short series of bombings took place in
stores in North Carolina, injuring
three, and prompting some to think there may be a link with a
relative of one of the victims. When George Rocha was arrested for
the bombings, he claimed that he was angry about the crash at the
speedway, but he later confessed that it was retribution for being
caught shoplifting and an attempt at extortion. 
The facility is considered one of the busiest sports venues in the
country, with typically over 380 events a year. Along with many
races, the speedway also hosts the Food Lion Auto Fair
twice a year, one of
the nation's largest car shows
. Movies and
commercials have been filmed there, notably Days of Thunder
, and it is a popular
stop and testing grounds.
On May 26 2006
premiered at the speedway, on
several monster screens.
The feature of the April 2005 Spring Food Lion Auto Fair at the
speedway was a popular sculpture exhibition, Jim Gary's Twentieth Century Dinosaurs
. It is
a menagerie of Garysauruses
, all life-sized, and
constructed of automobile parts. A special tent housed the heavily
attended exhibition and a huge Gary sculpture, over forty feet
long, was displayed at the entrance to the raceway during the
entire fair. H. A. "Humpy" Wheeler and the speedway then
sponsored the funding for the traveling sculpture exhibition to be
featured by Belk College of Business on the campus of the University of
North Carolina at Charlotte where a self-guided tour of the campus-wide display
was extended to the end of July.
typical race week, Concord can balloon by over 200,000 people, temporarily
making it the third largest city in North Carolina as fans and tourists visit the events at the
The speedway became home to the first season of
Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity
In the summer, they host the Summer Shootout Series
which is also
on SPEED Channel in the Winter months.
Closure threat controversy
In October 2007 a controversy erupted following a Concord city
council decision to rezone Speedway land to prevent a dragstrip
from being built. Track owner Bruton
Smith had already begun grading land for the dragstrip prior to the
ruling. The decision came in large part because of concerns from
people living in a recently built subdivision that sits around from
where the strip would be built.
Following the decision Bruton Smith threatened to close Lowe's
Motor Speedway and build a track elsewhere in Metrolina
. When asked if he would go through with
the threat Smith replied "I'm deadly serious".
On November 21, 2007, a Speedway spokesperson announced that Smith
would not close Lowe's Motor Speedway.
In late December 2007, Bruton Smith announced plans for a new
dragstrip to be built near the speedway.
The dragstrip, called the zMax Dragway, was built on a piece of land right across from Highway 29. It is in its first full year of operation. Its events include those from all four of the NHRA's categories, and recently hosted a weekend of Pinks.
The track is unique in that there are records in Pro Stock (car),
Pro Stock Motorcycle, but not in Top Fuel or Funny Car. The track
opened in September 2008, after the NHRA declared no records would
be allowed in Top Fuel or Funny Car because they run to an
unofficial 1,000 foot distance, which is the distance of those two
classes because of rule changes imposed in July 2008.
Current race records (all series)
NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Records
NOTE: NHRA does not keep records for Top Fuel or Funny Car
because of the 1,000 foot distance used in those two classes when
the track opened.
|Pro Stock Car
|Pro Stock Motorcycle