We’re closing in on the ultimate handful of weeks of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Collection season, the inventory automotive sequence’ seventy fifth anniversary marketing campaign. To rejoice, every week by means of the tip of the season, Ryan McGee is presenting his high 5 favourite issues in regards to the sport.
Prime 5 best-looking automobiles? Examine. Prime 5 hardest drivers? We have got it. Prime 5 mustaches? There could be just one, so perhaps not.
With out additional ado, our 75 favourite issues about NASCAR, celebrating 75 years of inventory automotive racing.
Earlier installments: Hardest drivers | Biggest races | Greatest title fights | Greatest-looking automobiles | Worst-looking automobiles | Greatest cheaters | Greatest what-ifs
5 weirdest racetracks
We have taken the crossed flags, made an old-school NASCAR Craftsman SuperTruck Collection halftime break — hey, why not? — and now enter the second half of our NASCAR 75 top-five biggest lists. Talking of these Vehicles races again within the day, which used to race at some relatively attention-grabbing venues (shoutout to the Louisville Motor Speedway that in scorching July was only one big 3/8ths-mile wok), this week we’re wanting again on the wackiest, most unconventional circuits ever visited by inventory automotive racing’s premier sequence.
So, seize a boarding move and a pair of goggles and prepare to attempt to conduct pit stops in parking tons and dugouts as we current our high 5 weirdest racetracks in NASAR historical past.
Honorable Point out: Daytona Seaside and Highway Course, 10 Cup Collection races, 1949-58
The place the place NASCAR was born is simply too sacred and too necessary to formally record among the many goofiness of those rankings, but it surely was additionally so odd that it does should be remembered.
The unique model of the monitor opened in 1936, greater than a decade earlier than NASCAR was based within the close by Streamline Lodge after which turned the crown jewel of the unique Daytona Speedweeks and hosted Grand Nationwide occasion till the Daytona Worldwide Speedway opened in 1958. The paperclip format ran two miles south on the gritty, bouncy blacktop of Freeway A1A, then slung disregarded onto the sands of Daytona Seaside to race two miles north on that sand, dodging the incoming tide at 100-plus mph.
“The most important problem I had racing on the seashore was the heart,” Tim Flock defined to me in 1998. He gained back-to-back races on the Seaside and Highway Course in 1955 and 1956 earlier than NASCAR moved to the brand-new Daytona Worldwide Speedway in ’59. “I do not imply my guts as a race automotive driver. I imply precise guts. When you had been main the beginning of the race and had been the primary automotive to race out onto the seashore, you’d find yourself driving by means of a bunch of seagulls and there’d find yourself being guts and feathers all over the place.”
5. McCormick Subject, Asheville, North Carolina, 1 race, 1958
Okay, this one is private, but it surely’s additionally tremendous bizarre.
The house of the Asheville Vacationers, a longtime legendary minor league baseball crew, has hosted the likes of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Willie Stargell and Todd Helton. In 1956, although, the then-32-year-old ballpark discovered itself and not using a baseball tenant, so a quarter-mile asphalt oval was fastidiously paved across the infield diamond. McCormick Subject hosted two summers of native racing that had been dominated by the likes of Banjo Matthews, Ned Jarrett and Ralph Earnhardt, who typically had his younger son Dale in tow.
Navigating McCormick was not straightforward. Every time somebody would lose management and soar the tire barrier to by chance drive throughout the infield, the stadium groundskeeper would angrily chase after them. Within the lone Cup Collection occasion, gained by Jim Paschal, Lee Petty misplaced management of his Oldsmobile and crashed right into a dugout.
Baseball returned in 1959 and the racetrack was eliminated, however within the woods lining the ballpark you’ll be able to nonetheless discover chunks of discarded asphalt and the concrete racetrack retaining wall is now the muse of the leftfield fence. How superior is McCormick Subject? I simply wrote a e-book in regards to the summer time I spent there as an intern, throughout which I climbed into the bushes down the leftfield line and located a few of that leftover racetrack blacktop!
Talking of wacky #NASCAR75 venues, how about Asheville’s McCormick Subject, house of @GoTourists? Two summers it had an asphalt oval within the infield and held a Cup race in 1958. Lee Petty crashed right into a dugout! There’s nonetheless chunks of asphalt within the woods. It is all in my e-book! pic.twitter.com/DeVNO7uf6k
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) September 12, 2023
4. Portland Drive-In Speedway, Oregon, 7 races, 1956-57
Every time I reference these outdated Truck Collection halftime breaks, I at all times consider this place. I lined a race there earlier than it closed within the late Nineteen Nineties and was completely mesmerized by the ivy-covered billboards alongside the backstretch, the gorgeous view of Mount Hood from atop the double extensive trailer-ish press field, and sure, an enormous film display positioned simply off the backstretch for the speedway that moonlighted as a drive-in movie show.
Essentially the most memorable quirk, although, was the manhole cowl that sat squarely in the midst of the racing groove on the exit of Flip 4. The day I used to be there Wealthy Bickle stated his aim was to the touch it with one nook of his truck each lap. Similar for Herb Thomas, Lloyd Dane and Eddie Pagan once they had been successful Grand Nationwide races there again within the day.
3. Soldier Subject, Chicago, 1 race, 1956
When you thought this 12 months’s avenue Chicago avenue race was the primary Cup Collection occasion — or a minimum of the weirdest — held within the Windy Metropolis, you’d be fallacious.
The stadium made well-known by Da Bears did not welcome the NFL into the constructing till 1971, and it opened in 1924. In between it hosted each occasion you’ll be able to think about, together with auto racing on a half-mile cinder-then-asphalt oval with turns banked so excessive they reached out over the primary few rows of finish zone seats. It hosted weekend racing eternally, promoted by STP guru and “Mr. 500” Andy Granatelli. On July 21, 1956, NASCAR Corridor of Famer Fireball Roberts held off a star-studded 25-car discipline in addition to a persistent rain bathe to earn the second of his 5 wins on the season.
The racetrack was eliminated in 1970 to make room for the Bears as they moved throughout city from Wrigley Subject, however in maybe my favourite line ever penned about motorsports, legendary inventory automotive historian Greg Fielden as soon as wrote of the tip of Soldier Subject’s oval: “Observe torn out in 1970 following protests by hippies who objected to metropolis financing of auto racing.”
2. Linden Airport, New Jersey, 1 race, 1954
Races on airport runways had been pretty frequent throughout NASCAR’s adolescence, from the Titusville-Cocoa Airport in Florida to the triangular runway jigsaw puzzle of New York’s Montgomery Air Base. NASCAR’s first true highway course occasion was truly a tarmac.
On June 13, 1954, 43 automobiles zig-zagged their manner round runways inside earshot of Staten Island. NASCAR founder Invoice France parked his “home sedans solely” mantra and allowed sportscars to enter the 100-mile occasion. That had Oldsmobiles and Hudson Hornets buying and selling paint with MGs, Porsches and the Jaguar of race winner Al Keller. It was the first-ever NASCAR win for a overseas automotive maker.
Keller’s Jag stood alone till Kyle Busch earned Toyota’s first Cup Collection victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 9, 2008.
1. Langhorne Speedway, Pennsylvania, 17 races, 1949-57
Constructed exterior Philadelphia in 1926, Langhorne was a superbly spherical one-mile filth monitor. That is proper. It was a circle. Racers by no means stopped turning left. Ever. They’d spend whole races by no means searching the entrance windshield, however peering by means of the aspect window as a result of they had been in a perpetual broad slide.
Making issues worse, the monitor was constructed on swampy marshland, so pure springs would randomly begin effervescent up in the midst of the monitor and the monitor itself would shift and sink and alter elevations. A steep downhill dive developed between the start-finish line and the primary flip, producing struggle jet-like g-forces. Racers known as it “Puke Alley.”
Sadly, the place turned so lethal for NASCAR and open-wheel races alike that it turned generally known as “The Observe That Ate The Heroes.” It was closed in 1970, however in 2009 for ESPN The Journal I went into the Philly suburbs and located the positioning. It is subsequent to a Sam’s Membership and throughout the road from Mike Piazza’s Honda dealership. You’ll be able to learn that story right here.