Everybody is familiar with the madness of NASCAR. NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Known for its passionate fan base, one-of-a-kind playoff format, development of the modern sports sponsorship and commitment to enhancing auto racing through technology, NASCAR produces many of the most highly attended sporting events in the world.
NASCAR has held races in almost all of the lower 48 states throughout its history. Some were flops or faded from memory, but others have withstood the test of time and through the decades only the occasional repaving job has been done to these monolithic structures.
Here are 10 best NASCAR Cup Series Racetracks, listed for all the race lovers:
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
One of the newer tracks on the schedule, Las Vegas held its first race in 1998 and has since become a landmark event, being one of the first five races of the year. The banks are high at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the turns ruthlessly abrupt. Also, the infield features one of the most open garage areas in all of NASCAR: The Neon Garage. There, fans can walk above the crews and drivers to watch the mechanics/mad scientists of NASCAR work on their 850-horsepower behemoths.
The biggest track on the schedule, the 2.66 mile Talladega Super Speedway is synonymous with speed and excitement. Race lap averages routinely hit 200 miles per hour and every driver in the field dreads “The Big One” where one mishap results in a massive wreck that collects a dozen cars or more.
Martinsville, is the shortest track on the circuit, and also NASCAR’s oldest, dating to the first year of the sport in 1948. While the racing surfaces have changed from dirt, to asphalt, to a hybrid patchwork, the paperclip shaped short track, tucked away in southern Virginia, has never failed to be a high point in the NASCAR season. It is also one of the most important and harrowing races in NASCAR’s version of the playoffs: The Chase.
Michigan International Speedway
The wide and fast eighteen degree banks of this two mile track are situated in the Irish Hills of Michigan, just a quick drive from the headquarters of GM and Ford in Detroit and Dearborn respectively. Ford backed teams have historically dominated the track, but in recent years GM and Toyota have edged their way into Ford’s territory and the race is as competitive as ever.
Bristol Motor Speedway
A perfect example of NASCAR-style “bull ring” racing, Bristol is unlike any other track in the world. The half-mile concrete oval boasts 30-degree banks and average lap times of less than 15 seconds. Bristol’s fast and furious track is surrounded by grandstands so there’s not a bad seat to be found. This increases your odds of seeing one of the infamous fights that tend to break out between drivers after a race at Bristol.
Daytona International Speedway
Host to NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway has always been at the top of the list for drivers. The Speedway hosts the Daytona 500 in February, and another contest the first weekend of July, to signal the halfway point of racing season.
If you win there, you are in very select company, having conquered one of the most difficult tracks in the sport.
The track “Too Tough to Tame” is located deep in rural South Carolina and once a year NASCAR’s elite do battle on the egg-shaped oval’s narrow racing surface. The track evokes just as much admiration as it does hatred from the drivers, and, after a nasty brush with the outside walls, Kyle Petty once famously said of the track “They ought to fill this place up with water and turn it into a bass pond.” The fans however, overruled Petty and the track has sold out several times since.
Texas Motor Speedway
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and this is no exception. Yeah, it’s a 1.5-miler, but the speeds are crazy fast and the banking falls away exiting Turn 2. The racing has matured since it received a second date in 2005, and usually provides some big speed and late race heroics; witness last year’s door slamming battle between Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski.
Watkins Glen International
One of only two tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule that involve right turns, ‘The Glen’ is a fast and fluid road-course track. It has hosted races for Formula One, Indycar, and several endurance series and is regarded by many across the world as one of the best road courses in North America.
Charlotte Motor Speedway
NASCAR has two homes. One lies on the beach at Daytona, but the other is far inland in the Charlotte area where most NASCAR teams are headquartered. The one and a half mile and very narrow Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts just as many event weekends as Daytona including the longest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600, and the biggest payday of the year, the All-Star Race. And, to top it all off, the final event CMS holds is in the middle of the Chase.