Phoenix International Raceway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Built in 1964, the Phoenix International Raceway was originally designed to be one of the best American open wheel racing tracks available. The raceway was carved out of the Estrella Mountains giving the racetrack an incredibly picturesque backdrop. This meant that the new track, which is located at Avondale in Arizona, not only replaced the old one at the Arizona State Fairgrounds but quickly became a favorite amongst racing greats at the time. What’s more, the development of the track further spurred on the developing tourism industry, which meant that it contributed to the economy of the local community in quite a significant way. However, things only really started to take off at the track in 1988 when the Phoenix International Raceway was chosen to host some NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. Suddenly racing legends could be found in every corner of the town and the whole of America discovered just what a great track the Phoenix International Raceway was.

The Phoenix International Raceway is one mile (1.6 km) in length and takes the form of a D-shaped tri-oval. It has a seating capacity of 76 800 and is currently owned by the International Speedway Corporation. Because the track was built right at the foot of a rocky mountain range, it had to be designed around its geographic location. Thus there is a curve in the middle of the backstretch which is situated between turns two and three. This curve is a rather unique feature and is commonly known as ‘the dogleg’. The ‘dogleg’ design allowed the designers to include an external road course and a drag strip into the overall design of the track. Turns 1 & 2 have an 11-degree bank while Turns 3 & 4 have a 9-degree bank. The front straight has a 3-degree bank while the back straight has a 9-degree bank.

Today things at the Phoenix International Raceway are somewhat different from what they originally were. The external road course gave way for an infield road circuit. The crossovers that were originally built to access this infield circuit were sealed off in 2005 after construction of a tunnel under turn four. The drag strip is also seldom used, but the raceway continues to be a popular venue for racing in general. Unfortunately, the raceway was unable to host the Indy Racing League in 2005 which brought to an end a long history of hosting this premier event. Still the raceway continues to enjoy its unmatched tradition of hosting 58 IndyCar events including the Fall NASCAR weekend, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the Busch Series, Craftsman Trucks Series and Featherlite Southwest Series.

Penske Racing

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Penske Racing team is owned and run by Roger Penske, and is an extremely diverse team. In previous years Penske Racing has taken part in CART, road racing and even Formula One, but presently they are concentrating on ARCA, the Indy Racing League, and last but not least, NASCAR.

Penske Racing’s involvement in Indy Car racing started in 1968 with a stock block-powered Eagle and a driver named Mark Donohue. In 1969 they competed for the first time at Indianapolis, and in the following three years they were the team that everyone kept their eye on. Donohue won the Indy 500 in 1972. Other team owners that were involved in USAC events, such as Indy Cars and Champ Cars, got together to form CART, which is the Champion Auto Racing Teams. The participating owners were Pat Patrick, Dan Gurney and of course, Roger Penske. By the time 2006 arrived, Penske Racing had many successes under their belt. Successes that included winning open wheel races in CART and IRL 124 times, winning the Indianapolis 500 an impressive 14 times, and winning 13 pole positions at the Indianapolis 500. Penske Racing also walked away ith 11 open wheel championships.

Due to an open wheel split following the CART season in 1995, the Penske Team was absent in the Indy 500 for five years. They announced their return in 2001. Which later led to Roger Penske leaving CART to race in the Indy Racing League. The open wheel racing division of the Penske Team has been located in Pennsylvania since the year 1973, but it was announced that following the 2006 IRL Season, that IRL and the team’s NASCAR operations will consolidate at the Penske facility in Mooresville, North Carolina. The operations had to be moved sooner than previously anticipated due to a flood in Pennsylvania in 2006.

This very successful team boasts 3 Sprint Cup Series cars, numbered 2, 12 and 77; as well as 2 Nationwide Series vehicles, numbered 12 and 22. Their IndyCar motor vehicles are numbered 3, 6 and 12; while the Grand-Am car is #12. Drivers for Penske Racing include Kurt Busch, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Brad Keselowski, Justin Allgaier, San Hornish Jr., and others.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Welcome to America’s speedway! The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built on 328 acres of farmland 7 miles north-west of downtown Indianapolis in the spring of 1909. It didn’t start out as one of the most famous racetracks in the world. It was planned as a year-round testing facility for the fast-growing automobile industry in Indiana. Occasional race meets would be presented at the track, featuring those very same manufacturers racing their products against each other. The basic marketing logic being that spectators would be more apt to purchase a new car if they saw its performance on a race-track.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally four turns, each banked at nine degrees and 12 minutes and measuring exactly 440 yards from entrance to exit, were linked together by a pair of long straights and, at the north and south ends of the property, by a pair of short straights to form a rectangular-shaped 2 ½ mile track as dictated by the confines of the available land.

Check out these track statistics:

Road Course: total track length: 2.605 miles (4.192 kilometers)
Main straight length: 3,037 feet (926 meters)
Back straight length: 1,755 feet (535 meters)
Total turns: 13 (Left turns – 4; Right turns – 9)
Average track width: 46 feet (14 meters)
Expected Lap Time: 72 seconds
Expected average speed: 130 mph (210 kph)
Expected highest speed: 187 mph (301 kph)
Race Distance: 190.294 miles (306.235 km), 73 laps
Time limit on Race: FIA rules stipulate that Formula 1 races have a maximum time limit of two hours. This race should be completed in less than two hours, barring an emergency stoppage.

The original surface of Indianapolis Motor Speedway was made of nothing but crushed rock and tar, which proved to be disastrous at the opening motorcycle and automobile racing events in August of 1909. So a staggering 3,200,000 paving bricks were imported by rail from the western part of the state. They were laid on their sides in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar, thus inspiring the nickname “The Brickyard.” The name has stood forever more.

Asphalt was first applied to the rougher portions of the track in 1936, and by 1941, all but the greater part of the straightaway had become blacktop. The remainder of the bricks were finally covered over in the fall of 1961. Most of the original paving bricks are still in place underneath the modern asphalt surface, with only the famous “yard of bricks” still exposed at the start/finish line as a nostalgic reminder of the past.

The track has changed ownership only twice. With Carl Fisher heavily involved in the development of Miami Beach and Jim Allison’s nearby engineering company growing rapidly, the foursome sold Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1927 to a group headed up by WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker (Rickenbacker had actually driven in several Indy 500s before he ever knew how to fly).

These days the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, opened in 1909, is the world’s largest spectator facility and the only racetrack to host the Indy Racing League, NASCAR and Formula One. Since 1911, the Speedway has been the home of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500 each May. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (formerly Brickyard 400) has quickly become one of NASCAR’s most coveted races since the inaugural event in 1994 and heats up the track in late July. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway completed the Triple Crown of Racing in 2000 with the addition of June’s United States Grand Prix, the only Formula One race run in the United States.

Milwaukee Mile

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Milwaukee Mile is a racetrack found in West Allis, Wisconsin, USA. It has been one of the main venues for American motor sports since 1903, holding at least one race a year. It is officially the oldest operating motor speedway throughout the world, with Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning eight years later in 1911. The Milwaukee Mile has played a large part in determining the face of auto racing during the past century.

Before 1953 the Milwaukee Mile was operated as a dirt track, but was paved in 1954, leaving the dirt infield track for weekly programs that took place during the 50’s and 60’s. It was repaved again once the 1967 season came to a closure and by 1970 the quarter mile dirt track and the half-mile road course were converted to accommodate the pit area.

The Legendary Oval has a list of past winners that are part of racing history, including names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Barney Oldfield, Parnelli Jones, Rex Mays, A.J. Foyt, the Unsers and the Andrettis. The track is also known for being the only track to hold races for the Indy Racing League, NASCAR and the Champ Car World Series. NASCAR used Milwaukee for two Busch Series stock car races in 1984 and 1985. In 1993 the NASCAR Busch Series went back to Milwaukee where Steve Grissom won the event. Since then the Busch Series has been running every year from the Milwaukee Mile. Similarly the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series began its course in Milwaukee in 1995 and has returned every season.

After hosting NASCAR and IndyCar Series races for many years, it was announced at the end of 2009 that the Milwaukee Mile would not be hosting any events for these two sanctioning bodies in 2010. Instead the races traditionally held in Wisconsin will be hosted by Road America. Nevertheless, this legendary oval will no doubt continue to play a role in hosting other auto racing events.

Nashville Superspeedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Located in Gladeville, Tennessee, the Nashville Superspeedway is a concrete track which is oval in shape and measures roughly 2.145 km (1.333 miles) in length. It is situated about 30 miles east of Nashville and was built in 2000. There are currently only three concrete tracks on the NASCAR circuit and the Nashville Superspeedway is one of them. The track is owned by Dover Motorsports and it currently hosts four major races each year – two NASCAR Nationwide Series races (the Pepsi 300 and the Federated Auto Parts 300), one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and one Indy Racing League event.

The Nashville Superspeedway has a seating capacity of 50 000 with the potential to be expanded to 150 000 should the track be chosen to host a Sprint Cup Series event though currently NASCAR has shown little interest in doing so. In fact it would seem that there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding Dover Motorsports’ unwillingness to move either of its two most successful races from the Dover International Speedway to the Nashville Superspeedway. This has resulted in NASCAR’s unwillingness to allow the track to host a Sprint Cup event which has resulted in it being the only track to host two Nationwide Series events and not be included on the Sprint Cup calendar.

The track is called a ‘superspeedway’ as it is slightly longer than a mile as opposed to a ‘speedway’ which is traditionally shorter than a mile. The use of the term in the name helps to differentiate it from the Nashville Speedway USA, which is 0.596 miles in length. The Speedway can be found at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. The Speedway originally conducted a number of races in the Winston Cup Series but this was eventually stopped due to disagreements over track management.

The Superspeedway near Nashville has at least one interesting tradition worth mentioning, that of presenting race winners with specially-designed Gibson Les Paul guitars instead of trophies. While these may take up more space on the trophy shelf, they have a functional purpose as well as a special uniqueness which makes them that much more special. The Nashville Superspeedway in Tennessee is also known for producing a large number of first-time winners.

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