For NASCAR fans, summertime means it’s time to load up some camping gear and head to the Poconos. The home of a pair of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races held in June and August—the Pocono 400 and the GoBowling.com 400 respectively—the Pocono Raceway is one the most storied tracks in NASCAR history. Also home to the Pocono Indycar 500 and used by Sports Car Club of America along with motorcycle clubs and driving schools, the track gets a lot of use throughout the year.
The track is famous for its shape. Often described as a tri-oval, the track is actually closer to a triangle than an oval. It is unique in that its three turns are all different and modeled after turns from other tracks. Turn One has 14 degree banking and was based on the turns at the old Trenton Speedway. Turn Two, which has 9 degree banking and is also known as “The Tunnel Turn,” is similar to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while the 6 degree banking of turn 3 is based on The Milwaukee Mile.
But though NASCAR wouldn’t be the same without it today, there was a time when the Pocono Raceway nearly closed down for good. The raceway held its first race in 1968 on the three-quarter mile track. Three years later, the first 500 mile Indy race came to the Poconos on the two and a half mile rack and the first 500 mile NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway was held in 1974. But just as Pocono Raceway was getting its NASCAR start, the owners of the track, the Mattioli family were having some financial problems. Read the rest of this entry →
Fireball Roberts died following a 1964 crash in Charlotte.
When it comes to NASCAR, many people only see cars driving in circles for a few hours, with zero excitement, competition, or intrigue. However, this is a fast-paced, dangerous sport that is never short of close calls and frightening accidents and crashes. Yes, crashes are common in NASCAR, however, some look a lot worse than they actually are. The following are some of the worst crashes we’ve seen since the beginning of NASCAR:
Fireball Roberts, Charlotte 1964 Glenn “Fireball” Roberts was part of a deadly domino effect during the 1964 World 600 when he tried to avoid the crashed cars of Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett. Roberts’ Ford hit the wall and burst into flames. Badly burnt, he was taken to the hospital where he died weeks later after slipping into a coma. This wreck prompted the development of mandatory fire suits, rubber fuel cells and in-car fire extinguishers.
Richard Petty, Darlington 1970
Richard Petty was part of a bad crash took place in Darlington on May 9, 1970. He broke his shoulder during the Rebel 400 when his Plymouth rolled after making contact with the retaining wall.
It was the first NASCAR accident shown live on TV, and viewers could see Petty’s arm dangle out the side window opening when the car flipped and eventually landed on its roof. This incident prompted NASCAR to install mandatory protective nets subsequently in all its race cars. Read the rest of this entry →
The inventive minds behind the creation of the first stock cars didn’t have sporting amusement on their minds when they pioneered the modification of early-era automobiles.
Nope, the good old southern boys of the 1920s had more pressing concerns than daydreaming about a future when their creations would spear one of the most popular spectator sports in the country. They were more worried about just eking out a living.
An illicit living.
NASCAR’s forefathers didn’t “soup up” their rides in order to outrun each other around an oval track in hopes of taking home the checkered flag.
On the contrary, the purpose was to outrun the law and get home with a few barrels of whiskey.
Yes, while other American sports are steeped in tradition (baseball) or immersed in warfare (football) the history of NASCAR is soaked in prohibition-era moonshine.
The earliest “stock car racers” were mostly located in the Appalachian region of the United States, where drivers modified their cars to improve speed and handling. The earliest “stock car races” took place down winding mountain roads and involved bootleggers attempting to outrun the police. With these modified early version stock cars, many of them succeeded.
The repeal of prohibition diminished the amount of bootleggers in operation, but by then a demand for moonshine had developed and many still transported moonshine while running from “revenuers” who wanted to tax them.
It is believed that while on these runs, many bootleggers would often race each other; creating the earliest stock car races. Read the rest of this entry →
This late race accident by Jimmie Johnson helped give his teammate, Jeff Gordon, a chance to pass many of the race leaders and remain within contention for the Chase.
With their rulings this week that ultimately ensured that NASCAR darlings Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman were in the “Chase for the Cup”, NASCAR showed that manipulating results to benefit your teammates is only okay if done in a covert manner.
Much has been made of Clint Bowyer’s spin and the apparent attempts by some teams to help certain drivers (Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano) earn additional points to ensure their participation in the NASCAR Chase.
Based on the history of race manipulation in NASCAR, what they are really guilty of is not being stealth enough in their approach.
They need to work at emulating the expert performances of Hendrick Motorsport teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Two of the most successful drivers of the last decade, both drivers have well deserved reputations for bending ethics to ensure success.
Both drivers have more than a wall full of trophies earned as a result of knocking drivers out of their way, in many of those cases doing so by masking intentional unfair actions under the guise of “that’s just racing.”
So it should be no surprise that during the final green light pits of the Richmond race (and thus the last real big chance to alter chase order), Johnson mysteriously had a “tire get low” and banged into the wall just in time for Gordon, who seemed hopelessly out of the points race, to work his way through and pass many of the race leaders to suddenly get back in contention. Read the rest of this entry →
Attendance and TV ratings have declined in recent years for the Brickyard 400.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series makes its annual trip to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for the 18th running of the Brickyard 400.
While the event is still regarded as the second biggest race of the NASCAR season behind the Daytona 500, it seems that the popularity of the race among fans has reached an all-time low.
Back in May, the Associated Press reported that ticket sales for the race were down from last year’s event where only 140,000 people, almost a 50% decrease from 2007 where an estimated 270,000 fans showed up for that year’s race.
There was also a 13 percent decrease in the television ratings from the 2009 Brickyard 400 to last year’s race, which was both telecasted on ESPN.
So, what is the reason for this precipitous decline in the interest of the Brickyard 400?
Some blame the economic downturn and high gas prices, while others have suggested Indianapolis has to fight with tracks such as Chicago, Kentucky, and Kansas to get Midwestern fans to come out to the track.
But the most likely reason for NASCAR’s problem at the Brickyard is what happened in the 2008 race.
That was the first time that NASCAR raced the Car of Tomorrow at the speedway and the results proved to be disastrous. The combination of the new car and the abrasive pavement caused the rear tires to explode after several laps of racing. Read the rest of this entry →