Phoenix International Raceway
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.