What’s Happening?

Every NASCAR race track has a story, and some have roots that pre-date NASCAR’s existence. Today, we take a look at every race track that the National Touring Series will race at in 2024 and rank them from oldest to youngest. A few tracks on this list may surprise you.

  • For the purposes of this list, we will rank the tracks based on the year they were opened. It will NOT be based on when NASCAR started racing there. It also only includes configurations NASCAR raced at, so, tracks
  • A few race tracks predate NASCAR itself. Other tracks were built specifically for NASCAR as it expanded through the years.
  • Fans love to learn about the history of the sport. It’s equally as interesting to learn about the history of the race tracks.

Milwaukee Mile: Opened 1903

The Milwaukee Mile is the oldest, continually operating motor speedway in the world. It opened in 1903, and it has experienced a renaissance as of late. In 2024, it will host the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and an IndyCar doubleheader weekend.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Opened 1909

Carl Fisher built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before World War I. The first event at the track was a hot-air balloon race in June of 1909 before the first car race was held in August of that year. The Indianapolis 500 started in 1911, but, NASCAR did not get to the track until 1994. In 2024, NASCAR returns to the oval after three seasons of racing on the infield road course.

North Wilkesboro Speedway: Opened 1947

North Wilkesboro Speedway was built by Enoch Staley, and it hosted its’ first race in May of 1947. It hosted at least one race in every Cup Series season from 1949 until its’ doors were closed in 1996. In 2022, the track was opened up for good once again, and NASCAR returned with the All-Star Race in 2023.

Martinsville Speedway: Opened 1947

Martinsville Speedway was founded by Clay Earles just a few months after North Wilkesboro. Martinsville holds the distinction as the only race track that has hosted a Cup Series race every year since it was founded. It also hosts a Crown Jewel late model event every fall, the Martinsville 300.

Darlington Raceway: Opened 1950

Darlington Raceway was built by Harold Brasington in 1950, and it was NASCAR’s first superspeedway (track more than 1.0 miles in length). It also hosted NASCAR’s first 500-mile race, the Southern 500, on Labor Day 1950. When NASCAR moved the Labor Day race to California in 2004, many wondered if there was a place for Darlington. Darlington survived, and the Southern 500 returned to its’ Labor Day slot in 2015.

Daytona International Speedway: Opened 1959

After years of racing on the beach, Bill France wanted to build a track where cars could truly go as fast as they could. He designed a 2.5-mile tri-oval with 31 degrees of banking, and it opened in 1959 with the inaugural Daytona 500. Now, the Daytona 500 is the biggest race in the sport, and it serves as the sport’s Opening Day.

Charlotte Motor Speedway: Opened June 1960

Charlotte hosted the first Cup Series, then known as Strictly Stock, race in 1948, but, a more permanent track was built in 1960. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner built a unique, quad-oval, race track with banks not quite as high as Daytona and only 1.5 miles long. Now, it hosts one of the sports “Crown Jewel” races, the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend.

Atlanta Motor Speedway: Opened July 1960

Soon after Charlotte, Atlanta Motor Speedway was built. Originally a 1.522-mile true oval, the track was reconfigured into a quad-oval, in 1997. It was reconfigured again in 2022 into a drafting-style superspeedway.

Bristol Motor Speedway: Opened 1961

Bristol Motor Speedway was founded in the summer of 1961 as a half-mile bullring. The track underwent significant renovations over the years. Eventually, the iconic high banks were introduced, and grandstands wrapped around the facility. Its annual Night Race has become a must for any NASCAR fan to attend.

Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park: Opened 1961

Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park is famous for its drag strip. It hosts the NHRA U.S. Nationals, the biggest race on their calendar. NASCAR started racing there with the Xfinity Series in 1982, and the Truck Series returns to the track in 2024 the same weekend as the Brickyard 400.

Portland International Raceway: Opened 1961

According to Portland International Raceway’s website, the track was opened in 1961 from abandoned public roads. This track became a traditional stop on the IndyCar calendar from 1984 until 2007, and it has been on the IndyCar calendar again since 2018. NASCAR has been there off and on with multiple divisions since the 1990s, but, the Xfinity Series returns there in 2024 for the third straight season.

Phoenix Raceway: Opened 1964

Phoenix Raceway opened in 1964, but, it was primarily an IndyCar track throughout its’ early history. NASCAR’s Winston West Series, now ARCA Menards Series West, ran some races there through the late 1970s and 1980s, but it was not until 1988 that NASCAR’s top division came to the track. Since then, it has grown into a beautiful facility that now hosts the season finale in November.

Michigan International Speedway: Opened Fall 1968

Michigan International Speedway was opened in the fall of 1968, just 90 miles from Detroit, the “Motor City”. NASCAR quickly jumped at the chance to race at the 2.0-mile oval, and Michigan has been on the schedule every year since 1969. The track was on the brink in its early years, however, before Roger Penske bought the track to save it from bankruptcy in 1972 according to teampenske.com.

Sonoma Raceway: Opened December 1968

Sonoma Raceway completed construction in 1968, and NASCAR started racing there a year later. The current ARCA Menards Series West ran races there off-and-on from the late 1960s into the 1980s. In 1989, the Cup Series made its’ debut there in place of the closed-down Riverside International Raceway in Southern California. Since then, Sonoma has been the spiritual successor to Riverside since.

Dover Motor Speedway: Opened 1969

Melvin Joseph, famous for building Georgetown Speedway in Deleware, built Dover Motor Speedway in 1969, and NASCAR has raced there ever since. Originally, the track was asphalt until 1995 when it was repaved with concrete. In December of 2021, Speedway Motorsports Inc. purchased the track, and they own it to this day.

Talladega Superspeedway: Opened September 1969

10 years after Daytona was built, Bill France Jr. looked to build a track that was even bigger and even faster. He made the track 0.16 miles longer, a bit wider, and slightly steeper banking. The 1969 race was a fiasco with many drivers walking out and boycotting the event over safety concerns, but, those issues were eventually fixed. Now, it is one of the most popular tracks on the calendar.

Pocono Raceway: Opened 1971 (1/4 Mile Track Was Opened in 1968)

Pocono Raceway was built by the Mattioli family with a 1/4 mile track opening in 1968 and the “Tricky Triangle” opening in 1971. Each of the three turns was patterned after popular IndyCar tracks, Turn 1 was Trenton, Turn 2 was Indianapolis, and Turn 3 was the Milwaukee Mile. While originally built for IndyCars, NASCAR has raced there since 1974.

Richmond Raceway: Opened 1988 (Old Configuration Opened in 1946)

The original Richmond Fairgrounds Speedway was a 1/2 mile race track that was older than even Martinsville and North Wilkesboro. In 1988, the old track was torn down with a new track being rebuilt, a 0.75 mile D-shaped oval. NASCAR continues to race there to this day.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Opened 1990

Bob Bahre built New Hampshire Motor Speedway on land that had previously been a road course. In 1990, the Xfinity Series hosted their first race there with the Cup Series coming in 1993. The track has remained on the schedule ever since.

Homestead-Miami Speedway: Opened 1995

Originally a 1.5-mile rectangle modeled after Indianapolis, Homestead-Miami Speedway took a couple of swings before hitting a home run. The track became a true local with only 6 degrees of banking soon afterward, only to be reconfigured again with progressive banking in 2003. The track remains that way to this day. The Xfinity Series started racing there in 1995, the Truck Series in 1996, and the Cup Series in 1999.

Texas Motor Speedway: Opened 1997

Texas Motor Speedway was one of the first tracks the Cup Series visited as a part of NASCAR’s expansion in 1997. Bruton Smith built the track as a clone of Charlotte Motor Speedway with slightly larger turns. The track was not popular with many hardcore fans from day one as it took the place of North Wilkesboro Speedway. It became even less popular in 2017 when a reconfiguration made the track a one-groove track.

World Wide Technology Raceway: Oval Opened 1997

World Wide Technology Raceway, originally known as Gateway, originally opened as a road course and a drag strip. The current NASCAR oval layout was opened in 1997 to the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and it has hosted at least one NASCAR race every year since except for a 3 year hiatus between 2011 and 2013. The Cup Series first raced there in 2022, and the track has brought in great crowds both years.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Opened 1998

Another track opened by NASCAR during its expansion was Bruton Smith’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway. At the time of its opening, no other major professional sports team was in Las Vegas. The track has hosted a traditional spring date every year with a fall date added in 2018.

Nashville Superspeedway: Opened Summer 2001/Re-Opened 2021

Nashville Superspeedway has a similar story to Gateway Motorsports Park. It was built by Dover Motorsports Group, who also owned Dover at the time. Nashville is a 1.25-mile concrete tri-oval, and it hosted the Xfinity Series and Truck Series between 2001 and 2011. After 10 years of sitting dormant, the track reopened with a tripleheader weekend of Trucks, Xfinity, and Cup in 2021. Since reopening, Nashville has sold out two of its three Cup Series races.

Kansas Speedway: Opened October 2001

Kansas Speedway was the final track to open during NASCAR’s expansion era. A 1.5 mile tri-oval with 15 degrees of banking, the track added a spring date alongside its’ traditional fall date in 2011. In 2012, it was repaved to include progressive banking similar to Homestead-Miami.

Iowa Speedway: Opened 2006

Iowa Speedway was designed by Rusty Wallace and opened in 2006. First, it hosted IndyCar and all ARCA series before the Xfinity Series came in 2009. The Xfinity Series hosted two races per year from 2011 until 2019 before NASCAR left during the pandemic. In 2024, the Cup Series will make its debut on the 0.875-mile track.

Circuit of the Americas: Opened 2012

Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas was built in 2012 for the 2012 Formula One United States Grand Prix. That race was the first F1 race in the United States since 2007. NASCAR headed to COTA for the first time in 2021, and it returns to the schedule in 2024.

Chicago Street Course: Opened 2023

In 2023, NASCAR held its first Street Race in Chicago’s Grant Park. Weaving through iconic streets like Michigan Avenue and DuSable Lake Shore Drive, and around iconic Chicago landmarks like Buckingham Fountain, the track is unlike any other NASCAR has raced on. It returns in 2024, and it is one of the most highly anticipated races of the season.

What surprised you the most about each NASCAR track? Did some open sooner than you thought?

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