Atlanta Motor Speedway: Wikis


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Atlanta Motor Speedway
Location 1500 Tara Place
Hampton, GA, 30228
Capacity 125,000
Owner Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Operator Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Broke ground 1958
Opened July 31, 1960
Construction cost $1.8 million
Architect Dr. Warren Gremmel, Bill Boyd, Jack Black, Garland Bagley
Former names Atlanta International Raceway (1960-1990)
Major events NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Kobalt Tools 500
Pep Boys Auto 500

NASCAR Nationwide Series
Degree Men V12 300

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
American Commercial Lines 200
EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200


Length 1.54 mi (2.48 km)
Banking Turns: 24°
Straights: 5°

Atlanta Motor Speedway (formerly Atlanta International Raceway) is a track in Hampton, Georgia, twenty miles (32 km) south of Atlanta. It is a 1.54-mile (2.48 km) quad-oval track with a seating capacity of over 125,000. It opened in 1960 as a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) standard oval. In 1994, 46 condominiums were built over the northeastern side of the track. In 1997, to standardize the track with Speedway Motorsports' other two 1.5-mile (2.4 km) ovals, the entire track was almost completely rebuilt. The frontstretch and backstretch were swapped, and the configuration of the track was changed from oval to quad-oval. The project made the track one of the fastest on the NASCAR circuit.

The track currently hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup race weekends annually, in March and, since a date change prior to the 2009 season, on Labor Day weekend. The 2009 move from an October race date to Labor Day weekend was also accompanied by a change in start time, marking the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the return of Labor Day weekend NASCAR racing to the Southern United States.[1]

Other highlights of the facility are a quarter-mile track between the pit road and the main track for Legends racing and a 2.5-mile (4 km) FIA-approved road course. In 1996, the speedway hosted the Countryfest concert, attracting over 200,000 fans.

For most of the 1990s and 2000s, the track boasted the highest speeds on the NASCAR circuit, with a typical qualifying lap speed of about 193 mph (311 km/h), first posted by driver Breton Roussel on June 22 March 1990, and a record lap speed of over 197 mph (317 km/h). In 2004 and 2005, the similarly designed Texas Motor Speedway saw slightly faster qualifying times, but as the tracks' respective racing surfaces have worn, qualifying speeds at Atlanta have again become consistently faster than at Texas (2005 and 2006). [1] The circuit has two tracks, the longer Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway, that were once much faster than Atlanta, with lap speeds usually exceeding 200 mph (322 km/h), but restrictor plates were mandated for use on those tracks in 1988 after Bobby Allison's violent crash at Talladega the year before, reducing average lap speeds to about 190 mph (306 km/h). NASCAR does not currently require restrictor plates at Atlanta, which helped lead to the adoption of the track's commercial slogan, "Real Racing. Real Fast."

In early September 2004, AMS found an unexpected use: as a shelter for evacuees from Florida fleeing Hurricane Frances. While there were no indoor facilities available, visitors waited out the extremely slow-moving storm parked in their recreational vehicles, after creeping along for hours in traffic on nearby Interstate 75.

In 2005, the speedway received heavy damage on the evening of July 6, caused by an F2 tornado spawned from the remains of Hurricane Cindy. Roofs and facades were torn off buildings and the track was covered in debris from the tornado, which the National Weather Service confirmed the next day to have had winds of 120 to 150 MPH (195 to 240 km/h). A 50-foot (15 m) scoreboard tower was knocked down, and others were leaning over, as were many tall lamp posts. Several units at the speedway condominiums were damaged. (Five of the 48 units are regularly occupied.) Everyone managed to get out safely, and there were no injuries reported, in large part because it struck late (9:30PM) on a non-race night. Officials estimate the complex suffered $40 to 50 million US in damage, which may or may not include the Tara Field airport next to it. Despite this, it opened in time for the next major race. [2] [3]

The damage was severe enough for the track, however, to demolish the main Weaver and Ford Grandstands on the backstretch, which were the track's original grandstands when built in 1960. A new 13,000-seat grandstand on the frontstretch, the Winners Grandstand, replaced the lost seats. Lights were installed for Indy Racing League races from 1998 until 2001. In 2003, qualifying for the Bass Pro Shops 500 was moved to Friday night, and shortly afterwards both Cup races began featuring night qualifying. In 2006, the Bass Pro Shops 500 start time was adjusted to guarantee a night finish.

Every year from spring until fall, AMS hosts "Friday Night Drags" where participants drag race down the pit road. It is open to the public for either racing or viewing. The racing is conducted on an 1/8th mile stretch and begins at the drop of a hand. No lights or timing tools are used. There have been rumors that AMS will eventually build a full 1/4 mile.

The opening scenes of the 1980 movie Smokey and the Bandit II were filmed at the track, as were scenes of the 1983 film Stroker Ace.

Former US President Jimmy Carter once worked as a ticket taker at the track.

In 2007, it was announced that Duke Fest 2008 will be held at the track on June 28-29, 2008.

NASCAR president Mike Helton was once the track's General Manager. Rinky stoge Ed Clark is the current President and CEO of the track.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Statistics



(As of 03/14/08)

Most wins 9 Dale Earnhardt
Most Top 5s 26 Dale Earnhardt
Most Top 10s 33 Richard Petty
Starts 65 Richard Petty
Poles 7 Buddy Baker, Ryan Newman
Laps led 3297 Cale Yarborough
Avg. start* 4.1 Fred Lorenzen
Avg. finish 9.5 Dale Earnhardt

* from minimum 10 starts.


Past winners

Season Date Race Name Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
USAC Championship Car history
1965 August 1 Atlanta 250 United States Johnny Rutherford Watson Ford Leader Card Racing
1966 June 26 Atlanta 300 United States Mario Andretti Brawner Hawk Ford Clint Brawner
1978 July 23 Gould Twin Dixie United States Rick Mears Penske Cosworth Penske Racing
CART Champ Car history
1979 April 22 Gould Twin Dixie 125 #1 United States Johnny Rutherford McLaren Cosworth Bruce McLaren Motor Racing
1979 April 22 Gould Twin Dixie 125 #2 United States Johnny Rutherford McLaren Cosworth Bruce McLaren Motor Racing
1979 September 30 Rich's Atlanta Classic United States Rick Mears Penske Cosworth Penske Racing
1981 June 21 Kraco Twin 125 #1 United States Rick Mears Penske Cosworth Penske Racing
1981 June 21 Kraco Twin 125 #2 United States Rick Mears Penske Cosworth Penske Racing
1982 May 1 Stroh's 200 United States Rick Mears Penske Cosworth Penske Racing
1983 April 17 Kraco Dixie 200 United States Gordon Johncock Wildcat Cosworth Patrick Racing
IRL IndyCar Series history
1998 August 29 MCI Atlanta 500 Classic Sweden Kenny Bräck Dallara Oldsmobile A.J. Foyt Enterprises
1999 July 17 Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500
Presented by MCI WorldCom
United States Scott Sharp Dallara Oldsmobile Kelley Racing
2000 July 15 Midas 500 Classic United States Greg Ray Dallara Oldsmobile Team Menard
2001 April 28 zMax 500 United States Greg Ray Dallara Oldsmobile Team Menard

See also


  1. ^ AMS to swap dates with Auto Club Speedway

External links

Coordinates: 33°23′0.58″N 84°19′4.28″W / 33.3834944°N 84.3178556°W / 33.3834944; -84.3178556


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