NASCAR: Five Tracks Fans Wish Were Still On The Schedule
It wasn’t that long ago that NASCAR released their schedule for the Monster Energy Cup Series for the 2017 season.
In 2016 NASCAR announced that they reached a five-year agreement with tracks currently on the schedule. While the announcement was good news for tracks on the Cup schedule, many fans were disappointed that NASCAR’s premiere series would not be visiting any new venues any time soon.
There are several tracks in operation that could currently host NASCAR events but there are many more that have been lost in time or fell into disrepair that would be welcome additions to the current schedule.
The following are five tracks that NASCAR fans wish were still on the Sprint Cup Series schedule.
North Wilkesboro Speedway has been off the NASCAR circuit since 1996 but the track has a fabled history in the sport. In fact, the 5/8-mile oval was built a year prior to NASCAR being established as a racing sanctioning body.
From 1949 through 1996, North Wilkesboro hosted 93 cup events. Following the 1996 season, Wilkesboro co-owners Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre moved the track’s race dates to different tracks. Smith moved the annual spring race to his new Texas Motor Speedway venue while Bahre gave the annual fall date to his track in New Hampshire.
For many fans, the loss of North Wilkesboro marked the beginning of the end of the NASCAR they knew and loved. The track has fallen into disrepair although several efforts have been made over the years to bring the speedway back to life.
The 1/2-mile Nashville Speedway hosted 42 NASCAR Sprint Cup races between 1958 to 1984. Like North Wilkesboro, the raceway has had its share of struggles in recent years but thankfully the track is still in operation today.
Fairgrounds Speedway as it’s called today was once the breeding ground of some of NASCAR’s top stars. Drivers like Darrell Waltrip and Sterling Marlin cut their teeth on the fabled Nashville asphalt. The winners list of Cup events read like a who’s who of NASCAR stars with Petty, Allison, Yarborough, Waltrip and Earnhardt all claiming victory.
Other than Bristol’s August race, Nashville was the only other track on the Cup schedule that hosted a night race for many years.
If you talk to old time NASCAR fans in California, many of them still lament the loss of Riverside International Raceway. The multi-layout road course facility hosted 48 Cup races on its 2.62-mile layout for nearly 30 years.
The track’s existence was threatened throughout the mid-1980s until the 1988 when the raceway came to an end. Rusty Wallace won the final race at Riverside and between 1989 through 1996, Southern California NASCAR fans did not have a local track to watch the Cup drivers and teams.
Riverside holds the distinction of being the only track to host three point-paying Cup races in one season in NASCAR’s modern history. The road course hosted the 1981 season opening race, hosted the mid-point event of the season and also hosted the final race of 1981.
Most fans simply refer to this track as Rockingham but for many years the track was known as North Carolina Motor Speedway.
The 1-mile facility hosted 78 Cup races between it’s opening in 1965 on through 2004. When NASCAR abandoned the speedway, it became another North Wilkesboro as the track sat dormant for several years. Former driver, Andy Hillenburg purchased the speedway and The Rock hosted races again in 2008. NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series made two stops to the historic facility in 2012 and 2013.
Sadly, Rockingham’s fate is up on the air once again and it’s questionable as to whether racing will return to one of the toughest tracks in the United States.
Trenton Speedway in Trenton, New Jersey only hosted eight Sprint Cup series races but many fans remember it as one of the most unique tracks in racing. The 1.5-mile speedway was shaped like a kidney bean with the backstretch featuring a 20 degree angle kink to the right which made turns three and four longer than turns one and two.
Richard Petty won three races at the speedway while Bobby Allison won the final Cup race at the track in 1972. Trenton continued holding other events until 1980 when the track was shut down.