Fans attending the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fests have much to look forward to, including a sneak peek at the upcoming NASCAR season, the 52nd Daytona 500 and the Speedweeks 2010. During this time visitors can enjoy interactive fan forums, autograph sessions, displays, music, the Richard Petty Driving Experience and meet SPEED Channel personalities.
Date: 15 – 16 January 2010
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
City: Daytona Beach, FL
Country: United States of America
Lee Petty, father of the well-known race driver and NASCAR’s all-time race winner, Richard Petty, was born on March the 14th, 1914 near Randleman, North Carolina. Lee was one of the founders of NASCAR and was also one of NASCAR’s first American stock car superstars in the 1950s and 1960s. Stock car racing is found mainly in Great Britain and the United States and takes place on large oval rings and sometimes on road courses. A stock car differs from a race car in that its an automobile that has come off the production floor and has been used for racing rather then being custom-built for racing purposes only.
It was only at the age of thirty-five years that Petty began racing. His NASCAR career began at NASCAR’S official first race on June 19, 1949, at Charlotte Speedway, a three-quarter mile long dirt track. Lee Petty finished in the Top 5 in season points for all of NASCAR’s first eleven seasons. Lee, on three occasions, won the NASCAR Championships and the initial Daytona 500 in 1959. The Daytona 500 is 805 km NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race and requires the driver to complete 200-laps. This race was held every year at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida on Daytona Beach.
At the inaugural Daytona 500, Petty and Johnny Beauchamp fought every round near the final laps of the race. The finish was inconclusive because both drivers had finished so close to one another. Unofficially Johnny Beauchamp was declared the winner until further notice, it took a total of three days to make the final decision on who had won. With the assistance of the national newsreel a decision could be made and it was found that Petty was the official winner. From that day Lee Petty had cemented his place as one of the all time greats in stock-car racing.
Lee Petty founded Petty Enterprises, and along with both his sons Richard and Maurice, it became NASCAR’s most victorious racing team. He is the grandfather of Kyle Eugene Petty who is an American NASCAR driver and great grandfather of Adam Petty who started a promising career in racing but tragically died in 2000 at the age of 19 years.
Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2009 to form Richard Petty Motorsports.
Petty Enterprises is one of NASCAR’s many racing teams and is owned by Richard Petty as well as his son Kyle Petty. Petty Enterprises is based in Randleman, North Carolina. Richard and Kyle supervise the operations of their two NEXTEL Cup Dodge Chargers: the number 45 Marathon Petroleum Company Dodge, which Kyle Petty drives himself and the number 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge, driven by Bobby Labonte. It was 1969 when the team was officially named Petty Enterprises. Throughout NASCAR’s history, Petty Enterprises has always been know and famous for its success, but in recent years they have been struggling.
The team has been operating as far back as 1949 when Richard Petty’s father, Lee Petty, first formed Lee Petty Engineering as a NASCAR Grand National Division team with the number 42. Not only was the company formed that year but also the team won their first win at Heidelberg Raceway, finishing second in points that season. 1950 and 1951 saw Petty’s team win one race each season with a victorious three wins in 1952. With this success the team expanded by incorporating another vehicle, the Plymouth, which Jimmie Lewallen drove. The following years saw a major increase in races won by Petty Enterprises. By 1979 the team had won 10 championships in NASCAR premier series.
From 1980 to 1984 Richard Petty drove hard and won several races, but from there on till his retirement he did not win another race. This bad fortune did not stop there, it continued after Richard’s retirement with Petty Enterprises only winning another three races. In 2006 Petty Enterprises hired Bobby Labonte, after he won the NEXTEL Cup, to drive the #43 car and hired Robbie Loomis, who had served as a crew chief for Jeff Gordon, to be executive vice president.
The Petty Family created the number 43 car, hence its name Petty Blue. The blue color is distinct and was created apparently by mistake because of not having enough paint to cover the whole car. It was rumored that the famous paint scheme came about when Richard Petty would not allow sponsors to sponsor his car unless they agreed to keep part of the car blue and the rest they could paint STP Red.
As of 2010 Lowe’s Motor Speedway became Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Stock car racing is extremely popular in South Concord, North Carolina. Designed and built in 1959 by O. Bruton Smith and the late Curtis Turner, Charlotte Motor Speedway (previously Lowe’s Motor Speedway) remains one of the premier racing locations in the United States.
Smith and Turner, together they built their dream of a 1.5-mile super-speedway on the outskirts of The Queen City and, on June 19, 1960, the first World 600 was run at this new facility. It took nearly 25 years for Lowe’s Motor Speedway to come of age. The Smith Tower – a 135,000-square-foot, seven-story facility connected to the speedway’s grandstands – was erected and opened in 1988. The building houses the speedway’s corporate offices, ticket office, souvenir gift shop, leased office space and The Speedway Club, an exclusive dining and entertainment facility.
Another innovation was a $1.7 million, 1,200-fixture permanent lighting system developed by MUSCO Lighting of Oskaloosa, Iowa. The revolutionary lighting process uses mirrors to simulate daylight without glare, shadows, or obtrusive light poles. The lighting system was installed in 1992, allowing Lowe’s Motor Speedway to be the first modern super-speedway to host night auto racing.
In addition to the 1.5-mile quad oval, the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex includes a 2.25-mile road course and a six-tenths-mile karting layout in the speedway’s infield; a quarter-mile asphalt oval utilizing part of the speedway’s front-stretch and pit road; and a one-fifth-mile oval located outside turn three of the super-speedway.
With those kinds of track conditions, it’s no wonder the schedule of racing events at Charlotte Motor Speedway reads like a Who’s Who of NASCAR: The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events, two NASCAR Busch Series races and a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event are among the major events held on the 1.5-mile super-speedway. The Richard Petty Driving Experience and the Fast Track High Performance Driving School also use the track extensively throughout the year.
Most recently, the track added a new garage area for the NASCAR Busch Series, a new state-of-the-art media facility and additional restrooms and showers for use by those enjoying the action from the speedway’s infield. These additions are all part of a long-term project calling for additional grandstand seating, infrastructure improvements, spectator amenities and the development of adjacent land for possible commercial real estate ventures.
Charlotte Motor Speedway: tradition only takes you so far. After that, it’s a matter of speed and innovation. Oh, and a seating capacity of nearly 170,000 doesn’t hurt either.
The history and development of Martinsville Speedway and NASCAR are closely intertwined. Auto racing at Martinsville predates NASCAR, though with very humble beginnings and small spectator capacity. The Martinsville Speedway has matched NASCAR lap by lap, meeting new technology and safety standards, while also providing for the rapid growth of fans for the sport. Every serious NASCAR fan must visit Martinsville at least once, because your appreciation of the auto racing phenomenon in the United States will not be complete without it. Great car racing spirits reside at the Martinsville Speedway, and you can feel decades of NASCAR traditions permeate your bones when you join untold numbers of spectators at this famous site.
History and traditions apart, a special feature of NASCAR events at the Martinsville Speedway is the tent facility, where spectators can interact with top drivers. The question and answer sessions are special treats, and you can treasure your moments in close proximity to your heroes. These sessions can also add to your auto racing enjoyment, because you get to learn of key strategies and tactics drivers employ even as they move at such incredible speeds around the track. The whole thing is conducted in a spirit of friendly competition, and you might find that you enjoy this part of a Martinsville visit most!
The track at the Martinsville Speedway is not exceptional, but it is adequate by NASCAR standards. The length is only about half a mile, and the inclines on the oval do not even reach 15 degrees at any point. These are good conditions for drivers who like to go flat out. NASCAR fans, who know Richard Petty to be a top owner, will be delighted to know that he has driven to victory fifteen times at the Martinsville Speedway.
Since Virginia enjoys so much NASCAR activity, you can combine a NASCAR event at the Martinsville Speedway with trips to other auto racing tracks in the State. On the other hand, the beautiful Virginia countryside is replete with a host of outdoor recreation opportunities. Martinsville has a long history, and people with interests in the Aleutians and the colonization of North America will find plenty of interesting stuff to go nicely with the NASCAR excitement at the Speedway.