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Bowman Gray Stadium: All-Star Race or Clash?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR announced that they have taken over racing operations at the historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Fans immediately began speculating about a potential National Touring Series race at the historic track. While not committing to a race there, Ben Kennedy said to Jordan Bianchi on The Athletic and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio that a race is a possibility. When could NASCAR host a race at Bowman Gray Stadium?

  • Bowman Gray Stadium is a football stadium built in 1937. Eventually, a dirt horse racing track was added around the playing field, which was eventually paved for race cars. Bowman Gray Stadium was a traditional stop on the Cup Series calendar from 1958 until 1971 when NASCAR entered the “Modern Era”.
  • The 0.25-mile track is nicknamed “The Madhouse”. The short length, lack of banking, and narrow racing surface mean races include lots of contact, dented sheet metal, and angry drivers.
  • Fans are excited to see Bowman Gray Stadium under NASCAR control. The potential of a National Touring Series race at the venue is more possible than ever.

The Clash

The Clash at the LA Coliseum proved that NASCAR can stage a “Saturday Night Short Track”-style show on a quarter-mile track. It’s perfect for an exhibition race like the Clash, and the fact that the race date is NASCAR-owned makes the jump to Bowman-Gray that much easier.

The problem with this date is the weather. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average temperature in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in February is 53°F. That’s quite cold, and NASCAR doesn’t like to stage cold-weather races. If NASCAR wants the Clash to be at Bowman Gray, they will have to swallow the cold pill.

The All-Star Race

The 2023 All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro opened up interesting possibilities for the All-Star Race. The idea of holding the All-Star Race at a historic, local short-track is something fans love. Bowman Gray Stadium would be the perfect historic short-track venue.

However, SMI currently owns the All-Star Race date, so, NASCAR would have to sacrifice another date to make the All-Star Race work. That is, unless, SMI can work out a revenue-sharing agreement with NASCAR. Either way, there are plenty of business hurdles to leap for The All-Star Race to move to a NASCAR-operated venue.

Xfinity or Truck Series Race

Hosting a regular-season NASCAR Cup Series race on a quarter-mile track without a true pit road will not happen. However, NASCAR has gotten creative for Truck Series and Xfinity Series races at places like Knoxville, Eldora, Road America, and Mid Ohio including segmented races before stage racing was a thing and no live pit stops. With most race teams based in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, just a stone’s throw away from Winston-Salem, a race at Bowman Gray is more than feasible.

However, this race would need to be unlike any other race on the calendar. It might need to feature a smaller field, and live pit stops could not happen. Would NASCAR be willing to change the rules that much for a points race in the lower series?

Bowman Gray Stadium is a historic short track, but, hosting a race there is more complicated than it may seem. It certainly could happen, but, it’d be a tall task.

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Joshua Lipowski

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