There are many names in the auto racing industry that are worth remembering as having been instrumental in the development of the sport. In the Midwest there is also a proud history in regard to racing, which is documented and displayed in the Midwest Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame. The main focus of this establishment is to preserve the passion and heritage of the sport and pay tribute to those who have assisted in bringing auto racing to where it is today through their innovative ideas, racing skills and dedication to their sport.
Many stories line the walls of the Midwest Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame, such as the history of the first midget car that was constructed in 1934 by Alexander Pabst that led to the first St Louis Midget Race in 1936 and the founding of the St Louis Auto Racing Association in 1938. The latter was however disbanded in 1976, but made a huge impact on racing in this state. This year a few more names were added to the Midwest Hall of Fame in a reunion and induction ceremony that was held on 22 January 2011 at the Springfield Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. Having the induction at the fairgrounds was extremely symbolic; as it was here that many memorable moments were created on its legendary speedways.
One of the inductees receiving the Pioneers award is Johnny Morris, who is a racing fan and team sponsor. Joining him in the Pioneers inductees section is Mark Perry, Gerald Wilson and Steve Long. Under the Legend inductees category was Bill Frye (Driver), Dave Williams (Driver), Steve Schahuber and Rex McCroskey (Driver). What makes Steve Schahubers’ induction so special is the fact that he not only raced the cars but he built them as well as making repairs on his car where needed. He is also active in promoting the sport and developing the same passion he had within the younger generations. The Midwest Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame induction ceremony was a spectacular affair, which also featured historical photographs, vendor booths, racing cars on display and collectables stands. It was a day of paying tribute, remembering the past and looking towards an exciting future.
Whether you are a NASCAR fan or not, you have likely hear of Daytona’s unbreakable bonds with auto racing, with cars first racing on a road course before moving to a regular track. The quality of car racing at Daytona over the past half century has been simply astounding, so we may say that NASCAR has paid back Florida for the gift of auto racing with full interest! Daytona has never shied away from new technology, but it also has an endearing quality of preserving a halo of tradition and history which no other place can match.
The two and a half miles of the Daytona International Speedway have no less than 31 degree inclines for drivers to negotiate, making it nearly impossible to even keep cars upright, to say nothing of the lightening speeds! The oval layout looks deceptively benign from a distance. Daytona is a sunny and friendly place, but the track is meant only for the brave and skilled! Nextel, Busch, and Craftsman are the top series which grace this track. Every driver dreams of racing here, and the track has seen the cream of auto racing participants crop. This track also hosts motor cycle events.
Daytona has always been an innovator in all aspects of car racing. It was here that drivers learnt to use the vacuum created by a car in front to gain speed. It was at Daytona that auto racing witnessed a speed of over 200 miles per hour. Daytona, thanks to innovative spectator arrangements, is the best track to watch pit crews up close, providing a window to an integral aspect of racing which is not always appreciated. The Daytona International Speedway is a kind of Mecca for auto racing, and you must plan a visit if you have never been here.
Nicknamed ‘The Monster Mile’, Dover International Speedway is a NASCAR racetrack that can be found in Dover, Delaware. It is currently owned by Dover Motorsports and it also serves as the headquarters for this major motor sport company. The track was opened in 1969 and was designed by Melvin Joseph. The track is part of a massive racing and entertainment complex that features gambling and a horse racing track known as the Dover Downs. The Dover International Speedway got its nickname for being notoriously hard on the cars which race here. In 2004 the racetrack decided to adopt a new mascot known as the ‘Dover Monster’. Also known as ‘Miles’, the monster is a prominent feature on track tickets, memorabilia and even the winner’s trophy.
When the Dover International Speedway opened in 1969, it had far less seats than it does now. The first addition made to the seating took place in 1982 and more seats continued to be added in subsequent years. Today the track is capable of seating 140 000 people. The track is unique in a number of ways. The first is that it is a concrete track – one of only three and the first of its kind. The concrete gives the track a whitish appearance, which is rather different from the black, tarred race tracks found across the country. It is also exactly one mile in length, which means that it cannot accurately be classified as either a short track or a superspeedway. Initially both the entertainment complex, horse racing facilities and the speedway were owned by Dover Downs Entertainment but at the urging of NASCAR the speedway came under separate ownership. The current owners of the track, Dover Motorsports, was formerly known as Dover Downs Entertainment but it changed its name in 2002 for legal reasons.
Races currently held at the track include the Neighborhood Excellence 400 and the Dover 400 of the NEXTEL Cup series, the StonebridgeRacing.com 200 and the Dover 200 of the Busch Series and the AAA Insurance 200 of the Craftsman Truck Series. Thus far, the Dover International Speedway has played an integral role in the world of NASCAR racing with many top drivers making a name for themselves on the track. It is highly likely that the track will continue to play a prominent role in the popular sport of NASCAR, and that fans will continue to flock here for all the major events.
Located a mere 25 miles northeast of Seattle, Evergreen Speedway is a majestic racing facility with a history dating back to its creation in 1954. Nestled in the expansive Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington, Evergreen Speedway has a solid record of standing-room-only attendance and support from the surrounding community. Much of the track’s success can be attributed to its unique design, which combines a 5/8-mile paved outer oval with a 3/8-mile inner oval, a 1/5-mile oval, a 1/8-mile drag strip, and a figure-eight track. The unification of the five venues within view of the 7,500-seat covered, and additional 7,500-seat modular grandstands has created a flexible Motorsports arena offering a diverse entertainment product to the auto racing fan base.
Dubbed “The Super-speedway of the West” by NASCAR racing legend David Pearson, Evergreen Speedway’s outer oval provides an exciting, high-speed playing field for some of NASCAR’s top touring divisions, while the smaller ovals and figure-eight track render a perfect venue for weekly NASCAR events.
In 1978, the helm of Evergreen Speedway was transferred to International Productions, Inc., owned and operated by the Beadle family. In the years that have followed, the Evergreen Speedway has enjoyed unparalleled success as the “gateway to automobile racing” in the Pacific Northwest.
In 1984, International Productions signed the prestigious Winston Racing Series sanctioning agreement with NASCAR, creating an alliance between the largest sanctioning body in the world and Evergreen Speedway – now renowned as the largest speedway in the northwest. Over the past twenty years, International Productions has distinguished itself as an innovator in the promotions business.
With northwestern racing fans hungry for a big NASCAR race in their own backyard, the Speedway hosted the inaugural Motorcraft 500 – a 500-lap NASCAR Winston West Series race – in July of 1985. For the region, it was the largest event in the history of NASCAR and over the years attracted some of the sport’s top drivers, including Bill Elliott, Geoff Bodine, Sterling Marlin, Harry Gant, Ken Schrader, Derrike Cope, and the late Davey Allison. Moving with the trends of the industry, International Productions recognized the surging support for the NASCAR REB-CO Northwest Tour, and responded by developing and promoting the 250-lap Coors Light 250, the longest event for the series.
In 1995, Evergreen Speedway landed on the schedule of the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. With the national touring series came live television and radio coverage, exponential return on investments for Evergreen Speedway sponsors and a new, exciting entertainment product for the track’s thousands of patrons. Evergreen hosted the series until the year 2000.
Today the Evergreen Speedway is the venue for local and regional racing series events, including Mini Stocks, Monster Trucks, Les Schwab Street Stocks, Speedway Chevrolet Super Late Models, Crash Cars, Demolition Derbies, Autocross and drag racing.
Located in Sparta, Kentucky, the Kentucky Speedway has played host to some of America’s most popular racing events, including the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, IRL IndyCar Series, IRL Firestone Indy Lights, and the ARCA RE/MAX Series. It is a 1.5 mile tri-oval track measuring 70 feet wide with 12 foot shoulders and turns banked at 14 degrees. The grandstands have a seating capacity of more than 60,000 with a 2,000 seat Bluegrass Club and plenty of camping spaces and facilities to accommodate the crowds of racing enthusiasts attracted to the track by its program of events.
Some of the “firsts” recorded for the Kentucky Speedway include the first race on June 16, 2000, being the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series “Kentucky 150”. The attendance at the event was 36,210 and the winner was Bill Bigley Jr., with an average speed of 111.747 mph in his #28 Peerless Woodworking/Nevamar Decorative Services Chevrolet. The purse was set at $95,050. The first pole sitter at this inaugural event was Brian Smith in his #20 Juba Glass Chevrolet Monte Carlo, with a qualifying time of 150.038 mph. The first winning crew chief was Bill Bigley, Sr.
In May 2008, Speedway Motorsports bought Kentucky Speedway from Jerry Carroll, with the deal finalized in October of that year. Its been reported that the new owners aim to secure a place in the NASCAR Sprint Series, but as at the end of 2009 this had not yet become a reality. Nonetheless, Kentucky Speedway continues to host the other events mentioned at the outset, offering auto racing enthusiasts a world-class venue to enjoy their favorite fast-paced sport.