Atlanta Motor Speedway

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Atlanta Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway.png

Atlanta Motor Speedway aerial 2006.jpg
LocationHenry County, Georgia,
at 1500 Tara Place
Hampton, GA, 30228
Time zoneUTC−5 / −4 (DST)
Capacity71,000-125,000 (depending on configuration)[1]
OwnerSpeedway Motorsports, Inc.
OperatorSpeedway Motorsports, Inc.
Broke ground1958
OpenedJuly 31, 1960
Construction cost$1.8 million
ArchitectDr. Warren Gremmel, Bill Boyd, Jack Black, Garland Bagley
Former namesAtlanta International Raceway (1960–1990)
Major events
Quad-oval
Length1.54 mi (2.48 km)
BankingTurns: 24°
Straights: 5°
Race lap record224.163 mph[2] (Billy Boat, Conseco AJ Foyt Racing, 1998, IRL IndyCar Series)
Websitewww.atlantamotorspeedway.com

Atlanta Motor Speedway (formerly Atlanta International Raceway) is a 1.54-mile race track in Hampton, Georgia, United States, 20 miles (32 km) south of Atlanta. It has annually hosted NASCAR Cup Series stock car races since its inauguration in 1960.

The venue was bought by Speedway Motorsports in 1990. In 1994, 46 condominiums were built over the northeastern side of the track. In 1997, to standardize the track with Speedway Motorsports' other two intermediate ovals, the entire track was almost completely rebuilt. The frontstretch and backstretch were swapped, and the configuration of the track was changed from oval to quad-oval, with a new official length of 1.54-mile (2.48 km) where before it was 1.522-mile (2.449 km). The project made the track one of the fastest on the NASCAR circuit. It has a seating capacity of 71,000 - 125.000 depending on configuration.

Racing[edit]

The track hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race weekend annually on Labor Day weekend from 2009 to 2014. The 2009 move from an October race date to Labor Day weekend was also accompanied by a change in start time, marking the first NASCAR Cup Series under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the return of Labor Day weekend NASCAR racing to the Southern United States.[3]

Other highlights of the facility are a quarter-mile track between the pit road and the main track for Legends racing and a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) FIA-approved road course. In 1996, the speedway hosted the Countryfest concert, attracting over 200,000 fans.

For most of the 1990s and 2000s, the track boasted the highest speeds on the NASCAR circuit, with a typical qualifying lap speed of about 193 mph (311 km/h), first posted by driver Breton Roussel on June 22, 1990, and a record lap speed of over 197 mph (317 km/h). In 2004 and 2005, the similarly designed Texas Motor Speedway saw slightly faster qualifying times, and as the tracks' respective racing surfaces have worn, qualifying speeds at Texas have become consistently faster than at Atlanta.[4] The NASCAR circuit has two tracks, the longer Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway, that were once faster than Atlanta or Texas, with lap speeds usually exceeding 200 mph (322 km/h), but restrictor plates were mandated for use on those tracks in 1988 after Bobby Allison's violent crash at Talladega the year before, reducing average lap speeds to about 190 mph (306 km/h). NASCAR does not require restrictor plates at Atlanta or Texas, which helped lead to the adoption of Atlanta's commercial slogan, "Real Racing. Real Fast."

On August 5, 2010, speedway president Ed Clark announced that Atlanta would be scaling back its NASCAR event schedule for 2011. The track kept its Labor Day weekend dates but lost its spring race. The race was given to Kentucky Speedway, another track owned by SMI, giving that track its long-awaited and desired Cup race, the Quaker State 400.[5]

Every year from spring until fall, the speedway hosts "Friday Night Drags" where participants drag race down the pit road. The racing is conducted on an 1/8-mile stretch.

The facility also hosts several driving schools year-round, such as Richard Petty Driving Experience, where visitors have the opportunity to experience the speedway from a unique point-of-view behind the wheel of a race car.[6] The track also hosts Speed Tech Driving School, which allows individuals to race 6 or more laps on the track when it is not in use for NASCAR or other events.

NASCAR president Mike Helton was once the track's general manager. Ed Clark is the current President and CEO of the track.

In late 2015 Atlanta Motor Speedway announced that they would install SAFER barrier around the whole of the outside and large portions of the inside around the track.

2021 will mark a return to two NASCAR Cup Series weekends, but also because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Speedway, in Henry County, has been able to host events traditionally held in Fulton County. In November 2020, the Atlanta Track Club announced that the Publix Atlanta Marathon would move from downtown Atlanta to the Speedway premises. The 42,195 meter course would be laid out around the oval, road course, and access roads. A 21,097 meter half marathon course would also be configured, as would a 5,000 meter course exclusively inside the oval itself. Likewise, in December 2020, Feld Entertainment announced that the AMA Supercross Championship would move from Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the Speedway premises for 2021 because of the pandemic. The event would be held in frontstretch quad-oval. Another motorcycle racing event would be held at the Speedway due to pandemic restrictions. American Flat Track would move the Atlanta round from Dixie Speedway to the Speedway. This race would be known as the Atlanta Super TT.[7] In early-July 2021, they announced that the track will be repaved for the first time since being reconfigured into its current quad-oval layout in 1997. As part of the project the width of the entire track, and the banking will be changed. While the layout, the banking on the straightaways and transitions will remain the same, the turns will go from 24 degrees to 28 degrees steep, the width of the turns reduced from 55 feet to 40 feet, the frontstretch reduced from 55 feet to 45 feet, and the backstretch from 55 feet to 42 feet. The project will start immediately following the July weekend, and is expected to be completed by October well ahead of the 2022 NASCAR season.

It was announced on July 20, 2021 that the 2022 AMA Supercross Championship will stay at the Speedway instead of in Fulton County.

Weather[edit]

Damage from tornadoes spawned by Hurricane Cindy

In early September 2004, Atlanta Motor Speedway found another use: it became a shelter for evacuees from Florida fleeing Hurricane Frances. While there were no indoor facilities available, visitors waited out the extremely slow-moving storm parked in their recreational vehicles, after creeping along for hours in traffic on nearby Interstate 75. Atlanta Motor Speedway has also opened their campgrounds to evacuees of Hurricane Irma in 2017, Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael in 2018, and Hurricane Dorian in 2019.[8][9][10][11]

In 2005, the speedway received heavy damage on the evening of July 6, caused by an F2 tornado spawned from the remains of Hurricane Cindy. Roofs and facades were torn off buildings and the scoring pylon was toppled. In 2005 practices began to extend in to Friday night, and shortly afterwards both Cup races began featuring night qualifying. In 2006, the Bass Pro Shops 500 start time was adjusted to guarantee a night finish.

In popular culture[edit]

The opening scenes of the 1980 movie Smokey and the Bandit II were filmed at the track, as were scenes of the 1983 film Stroker Ace; a 40th anniversary stunt show to commemorate the 1977 filming of the original Smokey and the Bandit in nearby Jonesboro, Georgia, was held at AMS in 2017 and attended by Burt Reynolds. The track was featured in the 1982 Kenny Rogers movie Six Pack. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once worked as a ticket taker at the track, and attended several races there as Georgia governor and as U.S. president.

The track was used as a filming location for the 2017 heist comedy film Logan Lucky as a stand-in for Charlotte Motor Speedway for some scenes. The outside barriers were repainted yellow to resemble those of the Charlotte track.[12]

The 2013 film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, was filmed outside the facility. The track can be seen in the background when Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 news team flip their bus.

Races[edit]

Pre-Race Events at the 2009 Pep Boys Auto 500.

Current races[edit]

Former races[edit]

Track records[edit]

Classical oval (1.522 miles)[edit]

Old layout used before March 1997
Record Date Driver Time Speed/Avg. Speed
NASCAR
Qualifying March 8, 1997 Robby Gordon 29.378 186.507 mph (300.154 km/h)
Race November 12, 1995 Dale Earnhardt 3:03:03 163.633 mph (263.342 km/h)
CART
Qualifying April 16, 1983 Rick Mears 26.732 204.963 mph (329.856 km/h)
Race September 30, 1979 Rick Mears 0:50:09 182.094 mph (293.052 km/h)
Source:[13]

Quad oval (1.54 miles)[edit]

Current layout
Record Date Driver Time Speed/Avg. Speed
NASCAR Cup Series
Qualifying November 15, 1997 Geoffrey Bodine 28.074 197.478 mph (317.810 km/h)
Race March 14, 2004 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 3:09:15 158.679 mph (255.369 km/h)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Qualifying October 25, 2003 Greg Biffle 28.830 192.300 mph (309.477 km/h)
Race February 28, 2015 Kevin Harvick 1:40:32 149.813 mph (241.101 km/h)
NASCAR Truck Series
Qualifying March 17, 2005 Rick Crawford 30.339 182.735 mph (294.083 km/h)
Race March 18, 2005 Ron Hornaday 1:27:35 142.424 mph (229.209 km/h)
IndyCar Series
Qualifying August 28, 1998 Billy Boat 24.734 224.145 mph (360.726 km/h)
Race July 15, 2000 Greg Ray 2:02:01 153.403 mph (246.878 km/h)
Source:[14]

NASCAR Cup Series statistics[edit]

(As of 2/28/16)

Most Wins 9 Dale Earnhardt
Most Top 5s 26 Dale Earnhardt
Most Top 10s 33 Richard Petty
Starts 65 Richard Petty
Poles 7 Buddy Baker, Ryan Newman
Most Laps Completed 17513 Richard Petty
Most Laps Led 3283 Cale Yarborough
Avg. Start* 4.1 Fred Lorenzen
Avg. Finish* 9.5 Dale Earnhardt

* from minimum 10 starts.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Financial reports provide insight into seating capacities for tracks that host NASCAR races". NBC. March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  2. ^ "1998 Atlanta 500 Classic Presented by MCI at Atlanta Motor Speedway" (PDF). Pep Boys Indy Racing League. August 29, 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 23, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  3. ^ "Atlanta, Auto Club, Talladega swap dates on '09 Sprint Cup schedule". ESPN. August 20, 2008. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  4. ^ "NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule, Results & Tickets on". Nascar.com. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  5. ^ Official Release (August 5, 2010). "Atlanta to play host to one race weekend in 2011 – Aug 5, 2010". Nascar.Com. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  6. ^ "Atlanta Motor Speedway – Races Tracks – Richard Petty Driving Experience". Drivepetty.com. August 29, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  7. ^ "Progressive American Flat Track Unveils 2021 Schedule". Americanflattrack.com. January 15, 2021. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  8. ^ "Talladega Superspeedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway offer free campground space for Irma evacuees". WHNT News 19. September 6, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  9. ^ "Charlotte Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway open campgrounds to Florence evacuees". Norfolk, VA: WVEC-TV. September 11, 2018. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  10. ^ Mines, Adam (October 9, 2018). "Atlanta Motor Speedway opening camping facilities for Hurricane Michael evacuees". Macon, GA: WGXA. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  11. ^ "AMS Opens Camping Facilities To Dorian Evacuees". Atlanta Motor Speedway. August 29, 2019. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  12. ^ Janes, Théoden (May 13, 2017). "Channing Tatum shot a movie at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Here's everything we know about it". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  13. ^ "Race Results at Atlanta Motor Speedway". racing-reference.info. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  14. ^ "Race Results at Atlanta Motor Speedway". racing-reference.info. Retrieved November 27, 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°23′0.58″N 84°19′4.28″W / 33.3834944°N 84.3178556°W / 33.3834944; -84.3178556