NASCAR: The Pocono Raceway and The Dover International Speedway
By: Good2GoPublished: January 17, 2019
The Pocono Raceway has gained fame as the most storied and recognizable track in Pennsylvania. The track is in a fantastic location, as it is situated 90 miles from both New York City and Philadelphia. On average, NASCAR and Indy Racing League (IRL) fans have to travel 300 miles to see a race, so the Pocono Raceway has a distinct and unique advantage here.
The Raceway was built in 1968, but it didn’t start off with a bang, nor did it contain any bells and whistles. The original track was a ¾ mile short track for stock car racing. By 1971, they had built a two-and-a-half-mile track to qualify as a super-speedway to complement the short track. The transition created another unique aspect to the raceway, in that the first row of seats are located just 58 feet from the track. However, it came with a need for heavy renovations, since a short track and a super-speedway are very different. Not only that, but there were a ton of mistakes made during the original construction that turned the track into a bit of a money pit. It nearly fell into bankruptcy more than once, and was seriously considered being put up for sale at one point. That is, until “Big Bill” intervened.
Bill France Sr. was the founder and manager of NASCAR, and one heck of a racecar driver in his own right. He had given Pocono Raceway its initial NASCAR race in 1974, and, for some reason, grew an affinity for the track. When news about the sale started to circulate, he called the owners of the track and asked to meet them in New York City. The meeting was short and to the point, he told them to hold off on the sale and stay the course. He then left them with a quote, written on the back of his business card:
It reads “On the Plains of Hesitation lie the bleached bones of millions – who when within the Grasp of Victory sat and waited! And Waiting Died”
The message was clear. Don’t sit and wait for something good to happen, go and make it happen. So they did. And instead of selling, they began major overhauls. After two years, and attending many races at the Pocono Raceway, Bill France Sr. decided that the track was in good enough condition to bring NASCAR back to the Pocono’s.
Beginning in 1990, the track’s owners got sick of fixing the mistakes made on the original construction, so they opted for a major overhaul. Over a ten-year period, they dropped $30 million dollars into renovations. They got rid of the ¾ mile short track and older garages, they repaved the track and added new crash walls, new garages, a 150-site motor home park for racers, 124 of which have water, sewer, and electricity (second only to Talladega), and the largest toilet facility in the world. Since then, the Pocono 500 has become an annual NASCAR race and the track has been enjoying the most prosperous years in its storied history.
Dover International Speedway
Dover International Speedway may be most recognizable for its massive, 46-foot-tall Monster statue that sits at the gate. The monument holds a full-scale stock car in its right hand, and its base consists of notable drivers recognized for their landmark victories on The Monster Mile. So far, there are four drivers gracing the statue: Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, David Pearson, and Jeff Gordon. The base is seven feet tall, sixty feet wide, and the entire statue weighs in at a hefty 40,000 pounds.
The track itself was constructed in 1969, and its debut race was won by none other than Richard Petty. It was initially regarded as a hell track because it was paved with asphalt, and the vibration would wreak havoc on the drivers. Because it was so widely despised, the owners decided to make a groundbreaking change. They became the first superspeedway in America to pave their surfaces in concrete. Coupled with its steep, inclined banks, it quickly went from worst to first in terms of driver appreciation. The fast qualifying lap ever held on the track is by Tony Stewart with his G-Force Oldsmobile in the Indy Racing League, who clocked in at 19.438 seconds going a top speed of 185.204 mph. Brad Keselowski holds that record for NASCAR with his Ford, which reached 164.444 mph and finished the lap in 21.892 seconds.
The stadium itself can fit 85,000 fans, and there are 56 special seats called the Monster Bridge that hangs over the track around turn three, and are considered the “Most Exciting Seats In Sports”. However, even if you have a ton of cash to blow on them you are still out of luck, as the seats are used as prizes for contests and promotions, and are not for sale. But just because you can’t buy the seats, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy a piece of the Speedway! Dover Downs Entertainment started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 1996, so you can buy your own piece of Dover International for just $1.97.
The 56 seat Monster Bridge, unveiled in 2004.