Atlanta Motor Speedway

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Not to be confused with Atlanta Motorsports Park or Road Atlanta.
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway logo.jpg
Atlanta Motor Speedway aerial 2006.jpg
Location Henry County, Georgia,
at 1500 Tara Place
Hampton, GA, 30228
Time zone UTC−5 / −4 (DST)
Capacity 111,000[1]
Owner Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Operator Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Broke ground 1958
Opened July 31, 1960
Construction cost $1.8 million
Architect Dr. Warren Gremmel, Bill Boyd, Jack Black, Garland Bagley
Former names Atlanta International Raceway (1960–1990)
Major events NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Heads Up Georgia 250
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Great Clips 200
Quad-oval
Length 1.54 mi (2.48 km)
Banking Turns: 24°
Straights: 5°
Lap record 224.163 mph[2] (Billy Boat, Conseco AJ Foyt Racing, 1998, IRL IndyCar Series)

Atlanta Motor Speedway (formerly Atlanta International Raceway) is a track in Hampton, Georgia, 20 miles (32 km) south of Atlanta. It is a 1.54-mile (2.48 km) quad-oval track with a seating capacity of 111,000. It opened in 1960 as a 1.522-mile (2.449 km) standard oval. In 1994, 46 condominiums were built over the northeastern side of the track. In 1997, to standardize the track with Speedway Motorsports' other two 1.5-mile (2.4 km) 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. The project made the track one of the fastest on the NASCAR circuit.

Racing[edit]

The track hosted a NASCAR Sprint Cup 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 Sprint 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 weekend was expected to go to Kentucky Speedway, another track owned by SMI.[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 and begins at the drop of a hand. No lights or timing tools are used.

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.

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. 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. The track was featured in the 1982 Kenny Rogers movie Six Pack. Former US President Jimmy Carter once worked as a ticket taker at the track, and attended several races there as Georgia governor and as US President.

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 till 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:[7]

Quad oval (1.54 miles)[edit]

Actual layout
Record Date Driver Time Speed/Avg. Speed
NASCAR Sprint 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 Februar 28, 2015 Kevin Harvick 1:40:32 149.813 mph (241.101 km/h)
NASCAR Camping World 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:[8]

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series statistics[edit]

(As of 9/6/13)

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. ^ "Atlanta Motor Speedway". ESPN SportsTravel. August 30, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ "1998 Atlanta 500 Classic Presented by MCI at Atlanta Motor Speedway" (PDF). Pep Boys Indy Racing League. 1998-08-29. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  3. ^ "Atlanta, Auto Club, Talladega swap dates on '09 Sprint Cup schedule". ESPN. 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  4. ^ "NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule, Results & Tickets on". Nascar.com. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  5. ^ Official Release (2010-08-05). "Atlanta to play host to one race weekend in 2011 - Aug 5, 2010". Nascar.Com. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  6. ^ "Atlanta Motor Speedway - Races Tracks - Richard Petty Driving Experience". Drivepetty.com. 2011-08-29. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  7. ^ "Race Results at Atlanta Motor Speedway". racing-reference.info. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  8. ^ "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