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Which NASCAR Tracks Do or Don’t Have Lights?

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What’s Happening?

It’s the question Bob Pockrass answers every time NASCAR heads to a new race track, does it have lights? Many believe that every NASCAR track should have lights installed, but, that’s not the case. Here is a look at which tracks do or do not have lights, and why certain tracks don’t have lights.

  • We will start by listing every race track that does have lights in order of when they installed them. Then, we will list the tracks without lights and explain why, if there is any explanation, why they do not have lights.
  • Lights have become increasingly more common at NASCAR tracks in recent years. Aside from allowing races to be scheduled at night, lights also give tracks some flexibility should bad weather delay a race.
  • Fans would love to see every NASCAR track have lights. However, that is simply not the case.

Tracks That Have Lights

In total, 19 of the 30 tracks NASCAR races at have lights installed for night racing. Most tracks have had lights installed within the last 3 decades.

TrackYear Installed
Indianapolis Raceway Park?**
Charlotte 1992
Las Vegas1996 (Track’s Inception)
Daytona 1998
World Wide Technology Raceway1999
Nashville Superspeedway2001
Milwaukee Mile2003
Iowa 2006 (Track’s Inception)
Kansas 2011
LA Coliseum 2022 (Track’s Inception)
North Wilkesboro Speedway2022
**No official source says when Indianapolis Raceway Park First Installed Lights

The Tracks Without Lights

With 19 tracks having lights, that leaves 11 tracks without lights. Here is why these 10 tracks do not have lights.

Chicago Street Course

The Chicago Street Course does not have lights primarily because it is a street course, and NASCAR does not race on lighted street/road courses. Formula One has proven that street course lighting can be done with tracks like Singapore and Las Vegas, but NASCAR has not yet done that. Lighting a solely temporary track in a city park is a massive logistical headache, so, this track will likely never receive lights.

Circuit of the Americas

Circuit of the Americas is a road course purpose-built for Formula One, but lights were not installed. Most lighted Formula One tracks are in hot climates where racing at night makes sense for fan comfort. Since F1 can race in the rain, tracks don’t need to install lights for weather delays. NASCAR can race in the rain on road courses as well, for that matter. On top of that, sports cars have headlights attached, so, road courses don’t need headlights for that reason.

Dover Motor Speedway

According to Essentially Sports, Dover Motor Speedway is unable to install lights due to a nearby Air Force base. The track has never had lights, and it will likely never get lights as a result. However, Las Vegas has an Air Force base nearby as well, so, why can that track have lights?

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis Motor Speedway doesn’t have lights primarily due to traditionalism. Track President Doug Boles told the Indianapolis Star in 2019 that, with the Indianapolis 500 sticking with a midday start, there’s no need to add lights, saying, “That’s just the way that race has been run, so if you had lights, it wouldn’t be changing the start time of the Indy 500.”

Michigan International Speedway

Michigan International Speedway has never had lights, and, there’s not a rush to get them anyway. The most recent comments on lights came in 2016, when then-President Roger Curtis said to the Detroit Free Press, “We are not even remotely talking lights. There are so many other things we continue to build on out here like garages, restrooms, and the Wi-Fi service.” That could change, but it seems that Michigan doesn’t want lights for now.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

New Hampshire has never had lights, and it won’t have lights for the foreseeable future. According to NBC Sports‘ Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, Bob Bahre, who built the track, signed an agreement that he would never install lights at the track.

Pocono Raceway

There’s no official reason for why Pocono does not have lights, and it’s strange given how spotty the weather can be. However, a summertime race date means sunset is later in the day, meaning that there is more time to get a full race in should rain delay it.

Portland International Raceway

Like COTA and Chicago, Portland is a road course, and road courses generally do not have lights. Since most road racing series can race in the rain anyway, that insurance policy is not necessary, and road courses are tougher to light than ovals since the footprint is much bigger and more complicated.

Sonoma Raceway

Sonoma is in a similar situation as Portland. On top of that, the track does not get a lot of rain during the summer, so, weather is rarely an issue at the track. Also, many road racing series already have headlights, so, lighting the entire track is not necessary.

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega not having lights is a mystery. Daytona has done it, so why not Talladega? Some have theorized that it’s due to the airport off the backstretch, but, Daytona has one as well. Talladega sort of ran at night during a Cup Series qualifying session in 2000.

Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen is the same story as other road courses. With sports cars having headlights and other series being able to race in the rain, what value does it gain by adding lights?

Night racing is a pretty fun concept for many fans, but, not every track can do it for now. Will more tracks add lights in the future?

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