||This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2011)|
|Venue||Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|Distance||600 miles (965.606 km)|
|Previous names||World 600 (1960–1984)
Coca-Cola World 600 (1985)
Coca-Cola 600 (1986–2001, 2003–present)
Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 (2002)
The Coca-Cola 600 is an annual 600-mile (965.606 km) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina during Memorial Day weekend. The event, when first held in 1960, became the first race to be held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Run since 1960, it is the longest race sanctioned by NASCAR at 600 miles (956.606 km).
Race origins 
In the spring of 1959, Curtis Turner returned to Charlotte, North Carolina after viewing Bill France, Sr.'s Daytona International Speedway and had an idea of building a race track in the surrounding area. Turner thought he could borrow enough money to build a $750,000 track with 45,000 permanent seats on his property in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Afterward, he learned that a group led by Bruton Smith had a similar idea to build a track near Pineville.
Smith and Turner formed an alliance to build the track, and they signed a contract with NASCAR to run a 600-mile event on Memorial Day. Once the construction crew broke ground, they found a layer of granite under the topsoil, making the construction costly. The area for the first turn alone used $70,000 worth of dynamite, making Turner's $750,000 construction plan near two million dollars. In the spring of 1960, Turner begged for a six-week postponement for the race after a snow storm delayed the pouring on concrete.
With two weeks remaining until the inaugural race, the paving subcontractor threatened to leave the job site for lack of payment. To solve the problem, Turner and one of his friends threatened the paving subcontractor with a shotgun and a revolver to make sure the track's backstretch would be completed. The first event at the recently completed Charlotte Motor Speedway was held on June 19, 1960.
The event was started as an attempt by NASCAR to stage a Memorial Day weekend event that would rival the open-wheel Indianapolis 500. It was not until 1974, however, that both races competed head-to-head on the same day. Before 1974, the two races were held on different days of the week, and on a few occasions, some drivers drove in both; this continued even after the 600 was moved to the same day, albeit to a smaller degree. In fact, the first World 600 was not held on the Memorial Day weekend; it was held on June 16 due to snowstorms that delayed the completion of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 2009 race, because the race was postponed from its original May 24 date, was the first race to have run on Memorial Day itself.
With the installation of lights in 1992, fans complained to circuit management to have the race start later in the day because of the notorious North Carolina heat and humidity. They wanted to follow The Winston's popularity the previous week and switch the race to a nighttime finish to create cooler temperatures for spectators. The start time was moved back several times throughout the 1990s, and finally settled at 5:30 pm in 2001, to attempt to have the race finished by 10 pm ET, in time for local news on Fox affiliates.
With the new starting time came new challenges. Not only do race teams have to deal with the blistering Carolina heat, but the considerable temperature change at night make track conditions completely different.
The nighttime portion of the race is lit with a system that uses parabolic reflectors so that dangerous glare that would otherwise be in the drivers' eyes is minimized. The move of the race to the early evening made it possible for drivers to participate in both the 600 and the Indianapolis 500 by flying from Indianapolis to Charlotte as soon as the Indianapolis race was over. Experts disagree over whether, for health and safety reasons, anyone should be allowed to race 1100 miles in one day, but no regulation has been passed yet by any governing body to prevent it. From 2005–2010, the issue became moot as the state of Indiana finally decided to go to daylight saving time. This resulted in only about a one hour span between the end of the Indianapolis race and the start of the Charlotte race. The Indianapolis 500 start time was moved back to 11:00 am Eastern in 2011, but no driver has made an attempt since. Over twenty million dollars has been offered to the first driver who wins both.
Until the Ferko lawsuit settlement took effect, the race was considered the third leg of the grand slam, and was once part of the Winston Million. It is considered one of the top five annual NASCAR races.
Past races 
- 1961: The race saw numerous crashes, including a very bad collision involving Reds Kagle, who lost a leg when his Ford smashed through the guardrail in Turn Three.
- 1964: Edward Glenn Roberts suffers a hard crash in this race, resulting in an inferno. Roberts was severely burned, and would die of related complications on July 2 of that year.
- 1974: The race was shortened to 540 miles because of the nation's short-lived fuel crisis, was won by David Pearson over Richard Petty. The lead changed 37 times between Pearson, Petty, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, and Donnie Allison, the most lead changes in the event's history to that point.
- 1976: Bruton Smith reassumed full control of the speedway with the resignation of former track president Richard Howard. In a move to boost promotion of the race, Janet Guthrie was entered in a car wrenched by Ralph Moody. Pearson edged Petty again after a cut tire dropped Yarborough off the lead lap.
- 1978: Darrell Waltrip won the first of his record five 600s in 1978 in a race-long six-car shootout; on the final lap Benny Parsons and David Pearson crashed. The lead changed 43 times, the most competitive 600 to that point of its history.
- 1979: The race saw the most lead changes (59) in the race's history. Darrell Waltrip took the win over Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
- 1980: The race lasted seven hours due to 14 caution flags and two lengthy red flags for rain. Multiple tire failures helped lead to an epidemic of wrecks; at Lap 275 Dale Earnhardt blew a tire and his spin caught up Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, and David Pearson. Waltrip had the lead but in the final 20 laps was challenged by Benny Parsons; the two battled with the lead changing some seven times before Parsons edged Waltrip by a car length.
- 1988: The race came a week after multiple tire failures marred the All Star Race; the failures involved Goodyear tires but in the 600 Hoosier tires began blowing. Darrell Waltrip survived and edged Rusty Wallace for the win.
- 1989: Darrell Waltrip becomes the only driver to win the event for a record 5th time (1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989).
- 1992: The race saw a controversial finish. Dale Earnhardt emerged from late green-flag pitstops with the lead after trailing by some three seconds entering the pits; there were complaints from several teams, notably Morgan-McClure Motorsports whose driver Ernie Irvan finished second, that Earnhardt had broken NASCAR's mandated pit road speed limit.
- 1995: The race was a dramatic affair as the lead changed 32 times, the most since 1988, and the battle for the lead became a spirited multilap affair between Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, and Sterling Marlin. Labonte punted Earnhardt out of the lead late in the race and sweated out late green-flag stops for fuel to take the win, his first in Winston Cup.
- 2005: On that race, a new record for the most cautions of any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was set at 22 cautions. In addition, there was one red flag. During that race Jimmie Johnson slid past Bobby Labonte in turn four on the final lap, claiming the checkered flag. In doing so he became the first driver to win three consecutive Coca-Cola 600 races. He would finish a distant second to Kasey Kahne the following year.
- 2009: On Monday, although nicknamed by many as the 24 Hours of Charlotte, saw the shortest run of the race in its history. The race was delayed from Sunday to Monday due to a rainstorm, and the following day, more rain forced the race to go only 227 laps, although it took a 6 and a half hour marathon to reach that point, due to frequent interruptions by competition cautions and three red flags, including a two hour period under the red flag which ended the race and declared David Reutimann the winner, one of few drivers who opted not to pit under the final caution. Reutimann was the second surprise first-time winner in 2009 after Brad Keselowski at Talladega.
- 2011: The 2011 running, at 402 laps and 603 miles, was the longest race in NASCAR history. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., trying to break a long winless drought, ran out of gas coming off of turn 4, and Kevin Harvick scored his third win of 2011.
Name changes 
From 1960 to 1984 the race was known as the World 600. In 1985, the race's name was changed to the Coca-Cola World 600. In 1986 the name was shortened to the Coca-Cola 600, or Coke 600 which it was referred to at the time. The name changed again in 2002 to the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 referring to the Coca-Cola family of drivers who are sponsored by Coca-Cola. After 2002, the name returned to the Coca-Cola 600.
Bruton Smith, owner of Charlotte Motor Speedway, has indicated that he's working on setting up a $20 million bonus for winning both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, starting in 2011.
In early 2011 Fox Sports president David Hill voiced his displeasure with the race's 600-mile length and stated his desire to see the race shortened. Charlotte Motor Speedway has not been receptive to the idea.
First time winners 
The Coca-Cola 600 has been the site of many drivers' first wins, including future champions David Pearson (1961), Jeff Gordon (1994), Bobby Labonte (1995), and Matt Kenseth (2000). The most recent driver to have the 600 as his first win was David Reutimann, who won a rain-shortened event in 2009. That was the second time in three years that a driver won their first race at the Coca-Cola 600; Casey Mears won his only race to date in the 2007 running.
Past winners 
|Year||Date||Driver||Team||Manufacturer||Race Distance||Race Time||Average Speed
|1960||June 19||Joe Lee Johnson||Paul McDuffie||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||5:34:06||107.735||Report|
|1961||May 28||David Pearson||John Masoni||Pontiac||400||600 (965.606)||5:22:29||111.633||Report|
|1962||May 27||Nelson Stacy||Holman-Moody||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:46:44||125.552||Report|
|1963||June 2||Fred Lorenzen||Holman-Moody||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:31:52||132.417||Report|
|1964||May 24||Jim Paschal||Petty Enterprises||Plymouth||400||600 (965.606)||4:46:14||125.772||Report|
|1965||May 23||Fred Lorenzen||Holman-Moody||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:55:38||121.722||Report|
|1966||May 22||Marvin Panch||Petty Enterprises||Plymouth||400||600 (965.606)||4:26:35||135.042||Report|
|1967||May 28||Jim Paschal||Frieden Enterprises||Plymouth||400||600 (965.606)||4:25:02||135.832||Report|
|1968||May 26||Buddy Baker||Ray Fox||Dodge||255*||382.5 (615.574)||3:04:14||104.207||Report|
|1969||May 25||LeeRoy Yarbrough||Junior Johnson & Associates||Mercury||400||600 (965.606)||4:27:56||134.361||Report|
|1970||May 24||Donnie Allison||Banjo Matthews||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:37:36||129.68||Report|
|1971||May 30||Bobby Allison||Holman-Moody||Mercury||400||600 (965.606)||4:16:20||140.422||Report|
|1972||May 28||Buddy Baker||Petty Enterprises||Dodge||400||600 (965.606)||4:13:04||142.255||Report|
|1973||May 27||Buddy Baker||Nord Krauskopf||Dodge||400||600 (965.606)||4:26:53||134.89||Report|
|1974*||May 26||David Pearson||Wood Brothers Racing||Mercury||360*||540 (869.045)||3:58:21||135.72||Report|
|1975||May 25||Richard Petty||Petty Enterprises||Dodge||400||600 (965.606)||4:07:42||145.327||Report|
|1976||May 30||David Pearson||Wood Brothers Racing||Mercury||400||600 (965.606)||4:22:06||137.352||Report|
|1977||May 29||Richard Petty||Petty Enterprises||Dodge||400||600 (965.606)||4:21:29||137.676||Report|
|1978||May 28||Darrell Waltrip||DiGard Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:20:12||138.355||Report|
|1979||May 27||Darrell Waltrip||DiGard Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:23:24||136.674||Report|
|1980||May 25||Benny Parsons||M. C. Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||5:01:51||119.265||Report|
|1981||May 24||Bobby Allison||Ranier-Lundy||Buick||400||600 (965.606)||4:38:22||129.326||Report|
|1982||May 30||Neil Bonnett||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:36:48||130.058||Report|
|1983||May 29||Neil Bonnett||RahMoc Enterprises||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:15:51||140.707||Report|
|1984||May 27||Bobby Allison||DiGard Motorsports||Buick||400||600 (965.606)||4:38:34||129.233||Report|
|1985||May 26||Darrell Waltrip||Junior Johnson & Associates||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:13:52||141.807||Report|
|1986||May 25||Dale Earnhardt||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:16:24||140.406||Report|
|1987||May 24||Kyle Petty||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:33:48||131.483||Report|
|1988||May 29||Darrell Waltrip||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:49:15||124.46||Report|
|1989||May 28||Darrell Waltrip||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:09:52||144.077||Report|
|1990||May 27||Rusty Wallace||Blue Max Racing||Pontiac||400||600 (965.606)||4:21:32||137.65||Report|
|1991||May 26||Davey Allison||Robert Yates Racing||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:19:05||138.951||Report|
|1992*||May 24||Dale Earnhardt||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:30:43||132.98||Report|
|1993*||May 30||Dale Earnhardt||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:07:25||145.504||Report|
|1994||May 29||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:18:10||139.445||Report|
|1995||May 28||Bobby Labonte||Joe Gibbs Racing||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||3:56:55||151.952||Report|
|1996||May 26||Dale Jarrett||Robert Yates Racing||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:03:56||147.581||Report|
|1997||May 25||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||333*||499.5 (803.867)||3:39:10||136.745||Report|
|1998||May 24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:23:53||136.424||Report|
|1999||May 30||Jeff Burton||Roush Racing||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||3:57:50||151.367||Report|
|2000||May 28||Matt Kenseth||Roush Racing||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:12:23||142.64||Report|
|2001||May 27||Jeff Burton||Roush Racing||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:20:40||138.107||Report|
|2002||May 26||Mark Martin||Roush Racing||Ford||400||600 (965.606)||4:21:23||137.729||Report|
|2003||May 25||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||276*||414 (666.268)||3:16:50||126.198||Report|
|2004||May 30||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:12:10||142.763||Report|
|2005*||May 29||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||5:13:52||114.698||Report|
|2006||May 28||Kasey Kahne||Evernham Motorsports||Dodge||400||600 (965.606)||4:39:25||128.84||Report|
|2007||May 27||Casey Mears||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||4:36:27||130.222||Report|
|2008||May 25||Kasey Kahne||Gillett Evernham Motorsports||Dodge||400||600 (965.606)||4:25:09||135.772||Report|
|2009||May 25*||David Reutimann||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota||227*||340.5 (547.981)||2:48:59||120.899||Report|
|2010||May 30||Kurt Busch||Penske Racing||Dodge||400||600 (965.606)||4:08:20||144.966||Report|
|2011||May 29||Kevin Harvick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||402*||603 (970.434)||4:33:14||132.414||Report|
|2012||May 27||Kasey Kahne||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||600 (965.606)||3:51:14||155.687||Report|
- 1968, 2003, 2009: Race shortened due to rain.
- 1974: Race scheduled for 360 laps / 540 miles due to energy crisis and the event was the first year it was scheduled for the same day as the Indianapolis 500.
- 1975: Dale Earnhardt makes his Winston Cup debut.
- 1986: Indy 500 was rained out; races were not held against each other.
- 1992: Final time the race was scheduled at the same starting time as the Indy 500.
- 1993: Race changed to an evening/night race.
- 1997: Race shortened due to lateness caused by a rain delay and a 1 am curfew.
- 2005: The race set the series record for most cautions at 22.
- 2009: Race postponed from Sunday to Monday due to rain.
- 2011: Race extended to 402 laps (603 miles) because of a Green-white-checker finish.
Multiple winners (drivers) 
|# Wins||Driver||Years Won|
|5||Darrell Waltrip||1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989|
|3||Buddy Baker||1968, 1972, 1973|
|David Pearson||1961, 1974, 1976|
|Bobby Allison||1971, 1981, 1984|
|Dale Earnhardt||1986, 1992, 1993|
|Jeff Gordon||1994, 1997, 1998|
|Jimmie Johnson||2003, 2004, 2005|
|Kasey Kahne||2006, 2008, 2012|
|2||Fred Lorenzen||1963, 1965|
|Jim Paschal||1964, 1967|
|Richard Petty||1975, 1977|
|Neil Bonnett||1982, 1983|
|Jeff Burton||1999, 2001|
Multiple winners (manufacturers) 
|# Wins||Manufacturer||Years Won|
|21||Chevrolet||1960, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2012|
|12||Ford||1962, 1963, 1965, 1970, 1982, 1987, 1991, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002|
|8||Dodge||1968, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 2006, 2008, 2010|
|4||Mercury||1969, 1971, 1974, 1976|
|3||Plymouth||1964, 1966, 1967|
See also 
- Hendrick Motorsports - "Endurance Week" starts now
- Aumann, Mark (May 24, 2012). "Turner's dream brings creation of Charlotte track". NASCAR. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- "1960 World 600". Racing-Reference.info. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- Back in the Day with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – SpeedTV – Coca Cola 600 episode
- NASCAR's Best Races
- "Kevin Harvick Wins Coke Cola 600 – Longest NASCAR Race Ever – Crazy Finish". Racing News Digest. Racing News Digest. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
- NASCAR races too long, Fox boss reiterates, singling out the 600