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Nazareth Speedway was an auto racing track in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvaniamarker which operated from the 1910s to 2004. The track is often associated with local drivers Mario and Michael Andretti. It was associated with Frankie Schneider in its earlier dirt track history.

Track history

The site began hosting motor racing events in the 1910s.

Dirt track

The track was renovated and re-opened in April 1966, as a five-turn dirt track named Nazareth National Speedway. The track featured modified races. Frankie Schneider had a clean sweeps at the event - he had the fastest qualifying time, won his heat race, and won the feature event. That turned out to be the only event at the track in the season.

The track held nine events in 1967, which turned out to be the most the track hosted. Schneider won five of the events.

The track hosted five modified events in 1968, and Schneider won three of them. Al Tasnady started near last in the August 24, 1968 modified event, and won the race by lapping all drivers except Schneider. The USAC Dirt Champ cars raced at the track on July 13, 1968. The race was won by Al Unser, who beat local driver Mario Andretti.

Andretti won the USAC dirt champ car race in 1969, and Rags Carter won four consecutive races.

Nazareth National Speedway held 52 races on the mile and one eighth track between October 15, 1966 until it was closed on November 7, 1971. Frankie Schneider won eleven races, which was by far the most.

Paved track

The track was taken over by Lindy Vicari in 1982. Vicari knocked down eleven years of growth, and shortened the track to a one mile (1.6 km) oval.

After closing in 1984, the track was purchased by Roger Penske in 1986. It was renovated and paved, and reopened as Pennsylvania International Raceway in 1987. It was the first racing oval to feature a warm-up lane to enter and exit the pits, designed in part by driver Rick Mears. In 1993, the track was renamed Nazareth Speedway. In 1997, the facility underwent improvements, including a new retaining wall, catch fence, and new grandstands.

When the track re-opened in 1987, it was a slightly reconfigured oval (1.62 km). However, designers and participants were aware that it actually measured shorter than one mile (1.6 km). The banking varied between 2.7° and 6.0°. The back straight is 1200ft (400m) and the home straight is 800ft (260m). IndyCar participants often took advantage of the inaccurate measurement for fuel strategy, knowing that they were running a shorter distance than advertised. In 1998, for fairness and accuracy, the track was remeasured by the CART sanctioning body, and was advertised as 0.946 miles (1.52 km) in length. The race, which had been 200 laps, was increased to 225 laps for time value purposes.

Although the Nazareth Speedway hosted rather successful Busch Series and CART events, new owner ISC closed the facility in late 2004. The races were replaced with events at Watkins Glenmarker, another ISC-owned track. The track is now up for sale, and may be resurrected if a strong buyer is found. Currently there is an offer to convert it into a multi-purpose indoor arena. Access to the speedway is severely limited, and reopening as a professional motorsports facility is highly unlikely.

Although the track closed in 2004, it is still featured in the EA Sports video games NASCAR 06: Total Team Control, NASCAR 07, and NASCAR 08 which are based on the 2005, 2006 and 2007 NASCAR seasons respectively.

As of May 2007, the grandstands, signage and all visible structures at the racetrack have been removed. The disassembled grandstands were transported to the Watkins Glen track. The track remains fenced off and access to any part of the track or land surrounding it is restricted. The site of the former speedway is located on Route 248, which lies in eastern Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley area. Rumors circulating around the speedway's replacement have included topics as housing complexes, or an also rumored sports arena.

Race Winners

USAC/CART/IRL history

NASCAR Busch Series

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series



IROC



In popular culture

Mark Knopfler wrote a song about a season of racing concluding at Nazareth Speedway titled "Speedway At Nazareth". The song appears on Knopfler's second solo album, Sailing to Philadelphia.

External links




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