Note that the laps of lead changes and cautions are from the broadcast, and might be a little off.
A bizarre track, a bizarre race, and a bizarre story. Here, we take a look at the 2010 Free State 500, a superspeedway race held at the Phakisa Freeway, in South Africa.
The province of Free State is in central South Africa and is one of nine provinces. Free State borders the small enclosed country of Lesotho, and contains one of South Africa’s three capitals, Bloemfontein, also the provincial capital of Free State. In 1970, the Goldfields Raceway was opened in Odendaalsrus, a town of 60,000 near the province’s second largest city, Welkom (it’s an Afrikaans/Dutch name, so the W is said as a V). The track was likely named after the area’s gold fields, or gold mines.
Goldfields Raceway was a popular circuit for national events over the years. Despite the area being famous for its depressions, Goldfields was a very flat circuit. It was fast, and could be run with little usage of the brakes, especially by open wheelers, though this sort of flat-out racing wasn’t always the best idea, as Goldfields was very famous as being a tire killer.
By 1997, the track owners were looking for more, wanting to bring American oval racing to the area, and so the old road course was demolished, and construction on a new circuit began. The new track, called the Phakisa Freeway, opened in 1999.
The oval is an interesting specimen. Measuring 1.5 miles, it is kind of a mix of pre-reconfiguration Las Vegas and Pikes Peak. The track is a d-oval and is about as wide as Pikes Peak, but the banking was heavily influenced by Las Vegas’, to the point that they are almost identical. The backstretch of Phakisa is banked to 3 degrees, the turns to 12, and the d-oval to 9, a near-exact match with old Las Vegas’ banks, which were 3, 12, and 8 respectively.
Also built with the oval was a 2.636 mile road course, which also has a short course layout of a bit under two miles. The road course doesn’t use any of the banked corners. It does, however, use the oval’s pit lane as its backstretch, and crosses the oval’s backstretch on two occasions.
In 1999, its first year open, the track immediately saw a major event in MotoGP. The South African Motorcycle Grand Prix was held at Phakisa from 1999 to 2004, when it left the track due to economic issues. The oval, however, remained unused. Phakisa’s road course continued to hold all sorts of national level events, as it does today, but there were talks of actually putting the oval to use. Sarel Van Der Merwe, a legendary South African racer who even made a few NASCAR starts, was the only driver to ever lap the oval in a race car, doing so on opening weekend. He apparently was lapping it out of anger directed towards something, presumably the demolition of Goldfields, though I could never find any specifications.
In and of itself, stock car racing is very popular in South Africa, which has a set of dirt tracks for local events. Dirt late models and midgets frequent these circuits, and there are a couple flat asphalt ovals for superstocks and jalopies, such as what is seen in Great Britain. In 2000, an asphalt late model stock car series called SASCAR was founded, however again I could find no evidence that it ever ran the oval at Phakisa. South Africa. In 2004, a larger banked oval opened at Gosforth Park, near Johannesburg. The WesBank Raceway, a slightly banked 0.621 mile oval, is known to have held several SASCAR events. The WesBank Raceway, which also contained an external road course, was fairly popular, but unfortunately it closed in 2007 and was demolished when a local company purchased the property. SASCAR went defunct at some point before 2009.
With the oval at Phakisa looking like it was never going to be used, the American Speed Association, or ASA, took notice. Ever since its financial difficulties in the early 2000s, the ASA was still attempting to recover, and eyed a potential race in South Africa as a good way to bring American superspeedway influence to the country and potentially return to relevance. This ambition gave birth to the Free State 500, to be held at the Phakisa Freeway on January 31st, 2010. 21 local South Africans jumped at the chance to race at the big oval alongside other big names who had entered the race such as Geoff Bodine, Chris Wimmer, and west coast legend Rick McCray and his daughter Toni Marie. A qualifying session was held, and those who were fast enough would be permitted to race. Six of the 21 locals were given the go-ahead to race.
The race itself had been born out of an idea by Dennis Hoth, the ASA president, in September 2009. Organization had been swift, and by December 1, shipments of the cars had begun. The drivers themselves left a week or so beforehand.
2010 ASA TRANSCONTINENTAL VRYSTAAT FREE STATE 500 STARTING LINEUP
#8 Geoffrey BODINE (USA)
#96 Marc DAVIS (USA)
#52 Chris WIMMER (USA)
#09 John MICKEL (GBR)
#F-22 Russ BLAKELEY (USA)
#90 Toni Marie McCRAY (USA)
#F-66 Steve CARLSON (USA)
#19 Tiffany DANIELS (USA)
#11 Jaco CORREIA (RSA)
#97 Mark EBERT (USA)
#22 Johan CRONJE (RSA)
#98 Shaun RICHARDSON (AUS)
#73 Gary LEWIS (USA)
#68 Danie CORREIA (RSA)
#55 Greg BARNHART (USA)
#80 Mark SHAFFER (USA)
#41 Ron NORMAN (USA)
#85 Lance FENTON (USA)
#20 Gugu ZULU (RSA)
#61 Tim OLSON (USA)
#900 Johann SPIES (RSA)
#31 Dustin DUDLEY (USA)
#00 Johan COETZER (RSA)
#08 Rick McCRAY (USA)
#88 Don UHLIR (USA)
The highest qualifying local was Jaco Correia, whose #11 greatly resembled Denny Hamlin’s white and purple Fedex scheme. Jaco Correia, a competitor in South African V8 Supercars, one of the most prestigious series in the country, started ninth. Businessman and hobbyist dirt tracker Johan Cronje’s #22 started 11th. Danie Correia in the #68, brother of Jaco and fellow competitor in South African V8s, started 14th. Starting 19th was the late Gugu Zulu of Cape Town, one of the country’s best rally racers. Johann Spies, a national Super Saloon class champion, started 21st in the #900, and young dirt oval racer Johan Coetzer started 23rd in the #00. Also in the field were John Mickel of Great Britain, who raced both in the ASA and in ASCAR, a stock car series which ran at the now-defunct oval in Rockingham, England, and Shaun Richardson, a Queensland, Australia native best known for his stunt work. The ASA picked up a television contract for the Free State 500 to be shown in the United States on a set of regional channels such as SportSouth, and several local South African channels were also there to broadcast the event. Most of the cars dated back to the early 2000s, with most Fords being Tauruses, most Dodges Chargers, and most Chevys Monte Carlos, though Tiffany Daniels and Shaun Richardson used relatively new-ish Toyota Camrys, and a couple of the frontrunners used Chevy Impalas.
Race day was extremely hot, reportedly approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but the skies themselves were almost cloudless. Race attendance totalled in at about 11,000. Marc Davis got the jump and took the early lead. The grid was one car short, as Dustin Dudley had sold his engine to Johann Spies, who had blown his primary engine in practice. This left Dudley without an engine, so he was headed home. Luckily for him, the South African government had covered travel costs and lodging.
Davis led a few laps, but on lap five, Geoffrey Bodine took the lead and pulled out a decent gap. Sometime before a lap 22 debris yellow, Geoff had lost the lead to Davis. In fact, Geoff had fallen back to fourth. By this point, two cars had dropped out of the event, the #88 Chevy Monte Carlo of Don Uhlir and the #85 Dodge Charger of Lance Fenton.
The field used this chance to pit. By series rules, the cars were only permitted to take on two tires at a time, and were not permitted to refuel during a tire stop or vice versa.
On the lap 29 restart, Marc Davis was the leader, but the mostly unsponsored #73 of Gary Lewis found a fantastic burst of speed. The two Chevrolets raced side by side through turn three, and Lewis surged ahead into the lead. Lewis led them around and to the yellow flag, as the second caution had come out for the #11 of Jaco Correia ramming the wall on entrance to turn three. Correia, of Klerksdorp, North West Province, was out of the race, but he was not hurt.
Lewis continued to lead on the lap 37 restart. A third yellow flew on or around lap 55, likely due to Steve Carlson’s car breaking down. During this run, Chris Wimmer had fallen out of the race, and Mark Shaffer had fallen out the caution before. The cavalry entered the pit lane, and on the lap 64 restart, Geoff Bodine took the lead and led until lap 75 due to a double spin by the #97 of Mark Ebert, the owner of a driving school, and the #68 of Danie Correia of Welkom. The field restarted on lap 85, and not much occurred during the brief green flag run other than the engine on the #00 of Johan Coetzer of Welkom blowing up, putting an end to the 19-year-old’s day. Caution 5 flew on lap 94 for debris, and the field pitted again.
Marc Davis took the lead during pit stops and led the field to the lap 102 restart. John Mickel got a bit of a run in turn one, but Davis surged ahead on the middle line, and Mickel was quickly freight trained. The #08 of Rick McCray then made a move and actually led a lap somewhere during the shuffle, possibly even two laps, though Davis emerged victorious again.
Caution 6 flew on lap 105 due to Mark Ebert in the #97 spinning again off of four, this time to the inside of the track. The field restarted on lap 112, and Geoff Bodine pursued the #96 of Davis from the moment the starter flew the green. On lap 119, he took the lead, but once again Davis made the outside work, and on lap 122, he took it back. Gary Lewis tried his hand at a pass, but Rick McCray, who had somewhere along the line lost a lap, made it three wide and got his lap back in the trioval coming to finish lap 122 and start lap 123. Gary Lewis took the lead in turn one on lap 123 and held it for some time. He put McCray another lap down and led until the seventh yellow on lap 145.
The field made more pit stops, and John Mickel found himself up front on the lap 154 restart. However, Australia’s Shaun Richardson took the lead on the backstretch and pulled out to a great gap, which Geoff Bodine quickly made up as if he were the star of a bad racing movie. Geoff passed Shaun around lap 157. Around this time, Johan Cronje’s engine let go, and the Welkom native would be forced to retire the car. Russ Blakeley’s #F-22 car also let go around lap 163. Blakeley had gone about 35 laps down already, having pulled his car behind the wall earlier in the event, and this would do him in. Interestingly, even after his first mechanical gremlin, Blakeley’s car had still been very fast…
Speaking of a couple of laps down, Marc Davis found himself in this situation. He had been forced to change tires under green, and it had cost him dearly. But the #96 was still quick. He was hoping for a yellow so he could get a lap back, and he got one on lap 167.
The restart flew on lap 174, but Shaun Richardson brought out the yellow on lap 176 when he blew a tire and skidded into turn one. The #98 Toyota Camry was done for the day despite not hitting anything, as Shaun had cooked the car’s clutch in his attempt to get back under way.
Bodine led on the restart on lap 182, but he found himself cutting it close on fuel. In the meantime, a massive cavalry of cars dueled one another to try and become the recipient in case Bodine ran dry. Coming to finish lap 205, Bodine’s car sputtered, and he bailed for the pit lane. Toni Marie McCray and John Mickel were the two beneficiaries, and the #90 of McCray led lap 205 and lap 206. On the white flag lap however, John Mickel in the #09 Chevrolet made a move on the outside of turn one and he made it stick. Mickel held off any further attempts by McCray to reclaim the lead, and John Mickel was the winner at day’s end.
Out of the locals, the #900 of Johann Spies was the best finisher, in fifth. Danie Correia finished 10th, and Gugu Zulu, a rally expert who had never raced on an asphalt track before, finished 11th. Johan Cronje, Johan Coetzer, and Jaco Correia failed to finish.
2010 ASA TRANSCONTINENTAL VRYSTAAT FREE STATE 500 RESULTS
#09 John MICKEL
#90 Toni Marie McCRAY
#96 Marc DAVIS
#08 Rick McCRAY
#900 Johann SPIES
#73 Gary LEWIS
#19 Tiffany DANIELS
#55 Greg BARNHART (-1)
#8 Geoffrey BODINE (-1)
#68 Danie CORREIA (-3)
#20 Gugu ZULU (-5)
#97 Mark EBERT (-5)
#41 Ron NORMAN (-9)
#98 Shaun RICHARDSON (-31, Burnt Clutch)
#22 Johan CRONJE (-52, Engine)
#F-22 Russ BLAKELEY (-79, Mechanical)
#61 Tim OLSON (-92, Status Unknown)
#00 Johan COETZER (-119, Out)
#F-66 Steve CARLSON (-153, Engine)
#52 Chris WIMMER (-169, Mechanical)
#11 Jaco CORREIA (-179, Crash)
#80 Mark SHAFFER (-179, Out)
#85 Lance FENTON (-195, Out)
#88 Don UHLIR (-206, Out)
#31 Dustin DUDLEY (DNS)
Known Cautions: 9
Known Lead Changes: 14
Known Leaders: #08, #09, #8, #73, #96, #98
MoV: 0.4 sec
Hard Charger: #08 Rick McCray Purse: Apparently about $US300,000 Pole Speed: 149.938 mph
The intention was for a few more races to be held at the oval track. Ron Barfield, owner of the #88 and the #55, stated his intention to leave a couple of race cars behind for the South African local drivers, and a racing school was reportedly supposed to be created, however no further races were held at the oval. A planned second Free State 500 scheduled for January 2011 never went anywhere, nor did a revival in November 2012. The ASA faded away during the early 2010s, meaning it likely will not return. The loss of Gugu Zulu, who passed away in mid-2016 after descending Mt. Kilimanjaro, further hurt any possible return. However, the one race that was held was very entertaining and unique, with overtaking galore, especially on the outside line, and the drivers put on a fantastic show.
As for the track itself, national events are still going very strong at the road course, but the oval has remained dormant ever since the 25 stock cars packed up and left the track on January 31, 2010.
“South Africa embraces V8s in 2001”, February 21, 2001 article to Motorsport.com
“Six SA drivers named to race Free State 500”, January 26, 2010 edition of IOL
“ASA Returns To South Africa For Free Satate 500 Nov. 25”, March 30, 2010 article to Raceweek Illustrated
“Florence’s Barfield on racing safari to South Africa”, January 26, 2010 edition of SCNow
Includes tracks that have been on the Turismo Carretera schedule since 2013 plus a few extra; this is far from every track in Argentina; tracks that have held Turismo Carretera races since 2013 are marked with (TC)
Since I’ll be providing locations, here is a map of where each province is in Argentina.
ALTA GRACIA (TC)
Full Name: Autódromo Oscar Cabalén
Location: Villa Parque Santa Ana, Córdoba
Primary Track Length: 2.514 miles
Notes: Used to have an outfield layout; a previous now-demolished infield layout used a crossover bridge
BALCARCE Full Name: Autódromo Juan Manuel Fangio
Location: San José de Balcarce, Buenos Aires
Primary Track Length: 2.852 miles
Opened: 1972, closed 2011
Notes: Has been closed since the fatal crash of Guido Falaschi in 2011
BUENOS AIRES (TC) Full Name: Autódromo de Buenos Aires Juan y Oscar Gálvez
Location: Villa Riachuelo, City of Buenos Aires
Primary Track Length: 2.614 miles (No. 6), 3.708 miles (No. 15)
Notes: Saw the Argentine Grand Prix on and off for several decades; currently hosts Turismo Carretera’s annual endurance race
CONCEPCIÓN DEL URUGUAY (TC) Full Name: Autódromo Concepción del Uruguay
Location: Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Rios
Primary Track Length: 2.659 miles
Notes: Very close to the Uruguayan border, hence the name
Full Name: Autódromo Ciudad de Concordia
Location: Villa Zorraquín, Entre Rios
Primary Track Length: 1.96 miles
Full Name: Autódromo Eusebio Marcilla
Location: San Martín, Mendoza
Primary Track Length: 2.610 miles
Notes: Named for Eusebio Marcilla, an early Turismo Carretera competitor
LA PAMPA (TC) Full Name: Autódromo Provincia de La Pampa
Location: In between Toay and Cachirulo, La Pampa
Primary Track Length: 2.577 miles
Notes: The picture below was taken while the track was being built
LA PEDRERA (TC)
Full Name: Autódromo José Carlos Bassi
Location: Villa Mercedes, San Luis
Primary Track Length: 2.625 miles
Notes: A semipermanent circuit a la Montreal
LA PLATA (TC)
Full Name: Autódromo Roberto José Mouras
Location: Near Abasto, Buenos Aires
Primary Track Length: 2.65 miles
Notes: Named for former Turismo Carretera champion Roberto Mouras
MAR DE AJÓ (TC) Full Name: Autódromo Luis Rubén Di Palma
Location: Mar de Ajó, Buenos Aires
Primary Track Length: 2.917 miles
Notes: Named for TC2000 and Turismo Carretera champion Luis Rubén Di Palma
Full Name: Autódromo Jorge Ángel Pena
Location: General Alvear, Mendoza
Primary Track Length: 2.589 miles
Notes: Famous for its last turn; Called “Peraltada”, it’s a full speed banked corner with little slowdown
Full Name: Autódromo Parque Provincia del Neuquén
Location: Centenario, Neuquén
Primary Track Length: 2.683 miles
Notes: Was in the planning stage for 27 years
NUEVE DE JULIO
Full Name: Autódromo Ciudad de Nueve de Julio
Location: Nueve de Julio Partido, Buenos Aires
Primary Track Length: 2.869 miles
Notes: A frequent test track for Turismo Carretera
OBERÁ Full Name: Autódromo Oberá
Location: Oberá, Misiónes
Primary Track Length: 2.722 miles
Notes: Located on a panhandle sandwiched by Brazil and Paraguay
OLAVARRÍA (TC) Full Name: Autódromo Hermanos Emiliozzi (Autódromo Dante y Torcuato Emiliozzi)
Location: Sierra Chica, Buenos Aires
Primary Track Length: 3.156 miles (full), 2.558 miles (Turismo Carretera layout)
Notes: The Turismo Carretera layout uses the 90 degree left hand sweeper in the center followed by the double apex at the top center, while the full layout uses the twin 180 degree bends
Full Name: Autódromo Ciudad de Paraná
Location: Near Sauce Montrull, Entre Rios
Primary Track Length: 2.622 miles
Notes: Very high speed with plenty of banked corners
Full Name: Autódromo Rosamonte
Location: Posadas, Misiónes
Primary Track Length: 2.715 miles
Notes: Has a spectacular and massive hill on the frontstretch
POTRERO DE LOS FUNES
Full Name: Circuito de Potrero de los Funes
Location: Potrero de los Funes, San Luis
Primary Track Length: 3.896 miles
Opened: 1987 (originally), 2008 (reopening)
Notes: Semipermanent, used once in 1987 and sat dormant before being restored in 2008
RAFAELA (TC) Full Name: Autódromo Ciudad de Rafaela (facility), Autódromo Juan Rafael Báscolo (Turismo Carretera layout)
Location: Rafaela, Santa Fe
Primary Track Length: 2.873 miles (oval), 2.897 miles (Turismo Carretera layout)
Notes: Only the Turismo Carretera layout (which uses the three chicanes) is named for Báscolo; Is banked at about 9 degrees in the turns; Opened as a dirt track, and was paved in 1966
RÍO CUARTO Full Name: Autódromo Parque Ciudad de Río Cuarto
Location: Río Cuarto, Córdoba
Primary Track Length: 2.515 miles
RÍO GALLEGOS (TC)
Full Name: Autódromo de Río Gallegos José Muñiz
Location: Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz
Primary Track Length: 2.613 miles
RÍO NEGRO Full Name: Autódromo Parque Ciudad de General Roca
Location: Río Negro, Río Negro
Primary Track Length: 2.25 miles
Full Name: Autódromo General San Martin
Location: Comodoro Rivadavia, Chubut
Primary Track Length: 2.548 miles
Notes: The turn at the left hand edge is right on the coastline
Full Name: Autódromo Municipal Juan Manuel Fangio
Location: Rosario, Santa Fe
Primary Track Length: 1.613 miles
Opened: 1981 (originally), 2012 (reopening)
Notes: Closed in 2009, receiving the Juan Manuel Fangio name when it reopened
SAN JUAN Full Name: Autódromo Eduardo Copello “El Zonda”
Location: Villa Basilio Nievas, San Juan
Primary Track Length: 2.013 miles
Notes: Situated in the mountains; Famous for its 270 degree corner, separate start and finish lines, and its many earth walls
SAN LUIS (TC)
Full Name: Autódromo Rosendo Hernández
Location: San Luis, San Luis
Primary Track Length: 2.796 miles
Notes: Was rebuilt into a new high-speed circuit in the late 2000s to attract Turismo Carretera, with the old layout still standing, but not being used
TERMAS DE RÍO HONDO (TC)
Full Name: Internacional Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo
Location: Termas de Río Hondo, Santiago del Estero
Primary Track Length: 2.986 miles
Notes: Saw the WTCC for several years, and currently sees the Argentine Motorcycle Grand Prix
TRELEW (TC) Full Name: Autódromo de la Ciudad de Trelew “Mar y Valle”
Location: Trelew, Chubut
Primary Track Length: 2.433 miles
Full Name: Autódromo Viedma
Location: Viedma, Río Negro
Primary Track Length: 2.579 miles
There was a day when that old dirt road in your backyard could be used as part of a very long closed circuit race track. Of course, those days are gone, but they did not end very long ago. In fact, there was a day where the sight of stock cars on those old dirt roads was nothing to drop your jaw at, but instead was something to love and cheer on. And cheer the fans of the day did! Watching race cars go neck and neck maybe a kilometer away from your house? It was every fan’s dream. This is exactly what Argentina’s Turismo Carretera series did.
Turismo Carretera, literally road touring, is the world’s oldest active racing series. The series started in 1939 and has been going strong since, despite a rocky beginning and a lack of virtually any safety integration until the late 1960s at the earliest.
Motorsport reached Argentina around 1910, but instead of permanent circuits, Argentina frequently used open road courses made of gravel, dirt, and asphalt, something the United States had mostly done away with for its major events by the First World War. The first Turismo Carretera event, however, is often considered to have been held in 1937, though the series was named Campeonato Argentino de Velocidad, literally Argentine Speed Challenge. The first race of the new championship was the Gran Premio Argentino, an event that was already on its 20th running by 1937. This open road race saw 72 drivers on the entry list with an assortment of cars, mostly Fords, Chevys and Plymouths, though Dodge, Hudson, Lincoln, Hupp, Graham, Hillman, Peerless, and Continental also saw some use. Entered in a #58 1935 Ford Voiturette was a young Oscar Alfredo Gálvez, the namesake of the track in Buenos Aires.
The Gran Premio Argentino, at least in its earlier years, was held alongside pedestrian traffic, though speed limits were often ignored. In 1936, speed limits had begun to be enforced on some roads, leading to a decreased amount of heavy accidents. The 1937 running was much the same, with few major accidents despite safety regulations so relaxed that some drivers were actually seen wearing pajamas at points during the 13 day, 6894km race.
19 cars finished the event, which was won by Angel Lo Valvo’s Ford. Two more races were held that year, the Circuito Correntino, won by Raúl Melo Fojardo in a Dodge, and the Mil Millas Argentinas, a one day, 1000 mile event held at Avellaneda won by Eduardo Pedrazzini in a Ford Coupe.
The series’ first fatality was during the 1937 Mil Millas, when newcomer Américo Traba flipped his Ford on approach to the small town of Tres Lomas, Buenos Aires Province. Traba, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, was killed in the crash, though his co-driver survived. The first co-driver to die was Héctor Moisello, the co-driver to Angel Lo Valvo, whose car rolled during the 1938 Gran Premio Del Sur Argentino. Moisello suffered injuries that he would die from a few days later.
As stated earlier, events in these days were usually multi-day events, with very long stages making for a format reminiscent of a very long rally race. Co-drivers, or as they were called, acompañantes, served both as a voice of reason and a guide, though again they were fully optional. Also optional in the early days of the series were roofs on the cars, as while few teams used them, convertibles were permitted.
In 1939, the Campeonato Argentino de Velocidad received a name change to Turismo Carretera, a name it has kept to this day. The first race with the new name was the Gran Premio Internacional del Sur, won again by the Ford of, again, Angel Lo Valvo.
Drivers in these days would use a variety of tactics to improve themselves, their vehicles, and their times. A common way of practicing was tiradita, possibly derived from either tirado, the Spanish equivalent of easy-peasy, or tirar, to launch. These were straight line dashes down a stretch of public road, often done with traffic still running in the opposite direction. Despite incredible danger, these dashes were legal for several years in Turismo Carretera. As expected, several fatalities occurred during tiraditas, including an incident in 1939 where three people died when their car was hit by a train.
Also seen was la técnica del bidoneo, or the technique of bidoneo, which I was unable to fully translate. This was functionally a way to refuel without stopping. A service team would place itself at a naturally slow part of the track such as a hairpin, and would throw fuel cans into the car through the co-driver’s window. The co-driver would then unbuckle his seat belt and refuel the car while it was still running. It was a dangerous technique and was completely against the rules, but many teams did it anyway.
The Turismo Carretera was one of the very few motorsport series to actually be run in 1942, with most of the world fighting World War II. Two races were held in 1942, though no champion was crowned. Being as Argentina was not directly involved in the War, competition continued, though it still took a hiatus from 1943 to 1946. The competition resumed in 1947.
The competition had proved itself dangerous in the early years, with six competitor fatalities, three drivers and three acompañantes, during events, in the pre-War years, and it was about to get even more dangerous.
One of the series’ most influential moments came during the Gran Premio de la America del Sur in 1948, a 20-day race from Buenos Aires to Caracas by way of La Paz, Lima, Quito and Bogotá. A massive 138 car field made up of Chevys, Fords, Buicks, Nashes, DeSotos, Lincolns, Mercurys, Plymouths and Dodges took the start of the 6,000 mile race. All eyes, however, were on the red #1 Chevrolet of Juan Manuel Fangio and acompañante Daniel Urrutia. While traversing a narrow pass in Peru, Fangio lost control and flipped down an embankment. First on the scene was Oscar Gálvez, who stopped his race to assist the stricken duo. Fangio was found injured but awake and alert, and reportedly asked Gálvez to get back in his car, to which he refused. Gálvez soon thereafter found an unconscious Urrutia, who’d been ejected through the windscreen. Urrutia suffered a basilar skull fracture and died later that night. Several drivers, Gálvez included, wanted to retire from the event, but Fangio made a radio message from his hospital bed and managed to convince most to continue. Fangio, on the other hand, was heavily contemplating heading home to Balcarce and opening up a garage, but decided to give his motorsport career another shot, a move that would pay off considerably.
Urrutia was one of six fatalities during the race, alongside driver Julián Q. Elguea and his acompañante Heriberto Román, whose fatal fall down a Bolivian gorge made them the first duo to be killed in Turismo Carretera, and three spectators.
With the 1950s under way, motorsport in Argentina was growing more and more popular. Juan Manuel Fangio had begun racing in Europe, and the inaugural Argentine Formula One Grand Prix was a few years on the horizon. In 1952, two new circuits were opened in Argentina, the Autódromo Diecisiete de Octubre, a circuit basically built for the Argentine Grand Prix, and the Autódromo Ciudad de Rafaela, a literal three mile ribbon of dirt in the shape of an oval.
In the meantime, Turismo Carretera was doing what it did best, providing racing in the backroads of Argentina. Chevrolets and Fords were still the primary cars of choice, though again there were other manufacturers that saw use.
1951 however saw another tragedy when 1938 champion Ricardo Risatti crashed during the Vuelta del Norte race. His car overturned about fifteen times, not badly injuring his acompañante but fatally injuring Risatti. Risatti, who had begun racing as a way to raise money for his critically ill wife, was apparently running his last race before retirement.
In 1953, the inaugural Formula One Argentine Grand Prix was held at the Diecesiete de Octubre circuit, and 300,000 spectators showed up to the track after the ultra-popular Argentine leader Juan Perón guaranteed free admission for everyone. Despite the death of 13 spectators when Nino Farina spun into an enclosure, the race was successful in showing the world Argentina’s love for motor racing.
That same year was marred by another death, as Eusebio Marcilla, the same driver who had stopped his race and helped transport Juan Fangio and the fatally injured Daniel Urrutia to the hospital in 1948 and a noted anti-Peronist whose views kept him out of the newspapers, was killed in a crash during the 1953 Vuelta de Santa Fé. Beloved by the fans, Marcilla’s death left the community in mourning, but the race kept going.
By 1956, Perón had been overthrown, and the Autodromo Diecisiete de Octubre had been renamed. Around this time, motorsport had been growing more and more popular, though the roads on which they were run weren’t getting better, in fact they were getting worse. The tiradita had begun being cracked down on, and the la técnica de bidoneo was distinctly illegal, with threat of disqualification, though drivers still did it. One co-driver was actually fatally burned during a failed bidoneo in 1960.
The 1960 Gran Premio Argentino demonstrated well the dangers of the series. The Gran Premio had remained on the schedule and had, in terms of safety, improved very little if at all.
Exactly how many spectators died during the 1960 Gran Premio will never be known, though the lowest estimate is 12. A cyclist was struck and killed halfway through the event, a young boy died after a guidebook error sent the race leaders skidding into a crowd while making a U-turn, and with about 20 miles to go, another driver failed to negotiate a bend and went into a group of fans, instantly killing seven and injuring many, some of whom likely died in the hospital later. Just a half mile up the road from this accident, another occurred when a racer struck a pedestrian motorcycle carrying two people and veered into an enclosure. One of the motorcycle riders died, as did two spectators in the enclosure. All drivers involved in these accidents as well as their acompañantes were unhurt. Police blamed the spectators for the two larger accidents, as crowds were stated to be so thick that drivers couldn’t see the apexes of corners.
Not even the death of one of the series’ mainstays was enough to halt the madness. By 1963, Juan Gálvez, who had started as his brother’s acompañante before hopping behind the wheel himself, had proven himself as the best driver in series history to that point, with 59 wins and nine championships. His brother Oscar possessed five championships. In fact, between 1947 and 1961 (inclusive), there was only one year in which a Gálvez brother did not win the title.
Unfortunately, Juan himself would be fatally injured behind the wheel. Oscar Gálvez refused to compete at the 1963 Vuelta de Olavarria, his reason being the terrible weather and the rowdy fans, who had in fact thrown stones at him the last time they had been in town. Juan hopped into his 1939 Ford Coupe and started the race, but while approaching an ess bend just past the race’s halfway point he hit a pile of mud and rolled. Juan, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the car and killed instantly, though his acompañante survived. This crash was blamed on poor road conditions. Not even the Juan Gálvez memorial run one month later on a completely paved circuit went without tragedy, though the race itself was remarkable, being the first broadcasted Turismo Carretera event in history. During the race, Joaquín Deporte and his acompañante Joaquín González were both killed when their car rolled. Ford had been dominating Turismo Carretera as of recent, and the death of Gálvez ended that dominance.
By the mid 1960s, the 1930s coupes that had been used for so long were beginning to look outdated. Turismo Carretera needed better, and they quickly found it in a variant of the muscle cars that were popular during the times. Sleek and powerful, these cars, sometimes developed in house and sometimes not, were expensive, leading to decreased fields. However, it did also cause something else: the introduction of the manufacturer IKA. During the 1960s, IKA was a subsidiary of Kaiser, though it has since been purchased by Renault. IKA cars lined the grids during the mid to late 1960s, their powerful engines leaving the cars of old in the dust. The introduction of a sports prototype partially owned by IKA called the Liebre Tornado made the usage of other manufacturers silly for a short time.
1968 started off poorly for the Turismo Carretera. A disagreement had caused fields to dwindle, and only around 25 cars, mostly series fulltimers, showed up to the opener at Buenos Aires, by this point renamed the Autódromo Juan Gálvez. The frontrunners had started using the new Liebre Tornado, with Fords, Chevys, and Peugeots filling a few positions as well. Unfortunately, Turismo Carretera would have more important things to worry about, as the fifth race of the year, the Vuelta De Balcarce-Loberia, proved to be a game changer.
Over a hundred cars lined up for the Gran Premio Lubricantes Celinoil through the backroads of Balcarce and Loberia, in Buenos Aires province, a slight decrease from the 120s when coupes were being run, but still a healthy grid nonetheless. The disagreements which had marred the beginning of the year had been resolved and older machinery was still usable and fairly competitive on the dirt and decrepit asphalt roads of Argentina. On lap one of two, Raúl Salerno veered off course and into a crowd, killing one and injuring several. Later that lap, Jorge Kissling and acompañante Quique Duplán were both killed when their car’s steering arm broke on a gravel stretch, sending their IKA Torino rolling.
On lap two, while passing by the property of Juan Manuel Bordeu, a one-time F1 starter and good friend of Juan Fangio (who himself was the race director), the cars of Plinio Rosetto and Luis Gargiulo collided and went off course. Both cars flipped, and both drivers and their acompañantes were injured. Rosetto’s co-driver, Rubén Barra, died of his injuries a few days later. Finally, while approaching the finish line, Segundo Taraborelli and acompañante Hugo Bonavento lost control at full speed and spun into a stationary lorry. The car exploded, killing both Taraborelli and Bonavento. Two occupants of the lorry were also killed.
The toll of the race caused the intervention of the Argentine government. All motorsport events in the country were prohibited for the next month. During this time, Turismo Carretera, recognizing the danger of brand new equipment running on roads which likely hadn’t seen an inspection since the 1940s, chose to replace all of the wide open backroads races with ones on permanent tracks and street circuits, with the exception of the Vuelta de Allen, which had very high-quality roads to begin with while they conducted inspections of potential circuits. The rest of the calendar consisted of races at Rafaela, which had since been paved, Buenos Aires, Alta Gracia, San Juan, and a trip to the El Pinar circuit in Uruguay, alongside the remaining road race, the Vuelta de Allen.
At year’s end, Turismo Carretera made their decision. Races on the open road circuits, known as semipermanente circuits, would remain, but roads had to be of a much higher quality, and gravel roads, while still used for several more years, were banned in any races held in the Buenos Aires province. This also spelled the end of the classic rough-n-ready Gran Premio Argentino, though it would remain on the schedule for another decade as an all-asphalt race.
By 1971, Turismo Carretera had found a rhythm. Grid sizes were still small for the most part, as cars were being updated so quickly that even the Liebre Tornado was growing outdated, but competition was fierce and manufacturer involvement was strong. The series ran their 500th race that year, the Vuelta de Hughes. Races by this point lasted no more than two days for the most part, though the Gran Premio still lasted around five. That same year, the USAC Indycars made a very rare international trip, stopping by the large oval at Rafaela for a pair of 150 mile races, both won by A.J. Foyt.
The dangers of Turismo Carretera hadn’t exactly faded, however. This was realized once again by the series in 1973. Nasif Estéfano was a popular face in Turismo Carretera who also ran a couple of races in Europe on occasion, and he had dominated early 1973. Going into round 13 of 15, an event known as the Gran Premio de la Reconstrucción Nacional, his points lead was looking insurmountable, and by the end of the first leg, it mathematically was, as the points Nasif had gained for winning the leg combined with the failure of his main rival to finish had given him enough of a buffer. On day two of the race, however, Nasif’s car shot off into a sandbank near Aimogasta, and Nasif was fatally injured. His co-driver was not hurt. Despite missing the last two rounds of the schedule, Nasif brought home the title.
The tiradita had become a no-no by this point according to Argentine traffic rules, and the organizers of Turismo Carretera had started cracking down on them, though a little sporadically. A fatal crash in 1974 caused the Turismo Carretera to outlaw tiraditas on public roads, though tiraditas on semipermanente circuits were permitted. Also in 1974, Octavio Suárez, a longtime competitor in Turismo Carretera, became President of the series’ sanctioning body, ACTC. Interestingly, despite his new position as President, Suárez continued to compete in Turismo Carretera.
One of the most interesting events of the 1970s occurred at the Vuelta de Salto, Buenos Aires province, in 1976. A field of 64 teams lined up for the event, all of them using cars that were, by the day’s standards, modern. The Ford users ran the Falcon, which had been sold in the United States for several years, but had been discontinued by 1976. The IKA representatives ran the Torino, which is even today considered the ‘national car’ of Argentina, but has no American equivalent. Those running Dodges mostly used the GTX, a car with a design that was heavily derived from the original Dodge Dart. Lastly, Chevrolet users ran the Chevrolet Chevy, which was based off of the American Chevrolet Nova. All of these cars were extremely popular with the Argentine public. The Chevrolet 400, Dodge Polara, and Peugeot 404 saw limited use.
On lap four of the first heat, which was to be followed by a second heat and a final, Luis Rubén Di Palma blew his engine while running a part of the track that ran through a small village called La Blanquita. Enrique Bravi skidded in the oil and struck a marshal’s post, terribly injuring a marshal. The post collapsed into the middle of the circuit, and Carlos Nani and his acompañante were injured when they crashed in an attempt to avoid it.
The competition continued, and a cavalcade of people entered the circuit in an attempt to flag down drivers and assist Nani and his co-driver. Even the entry of an ambulance wasn’t enough to stop the cavalry of cars. After a short while, backmarker Eugenio Cali collided with another car while passing the accident site and flipped into the crowd, killing three spectators. Cali and his co-driver were not injured, and despite the violence of their hit, Enrique Bravi and his co-driver also weren’t injured. The marshal at the post that had been collapsed survived.
The reason why the race hadn’t been stopped immediately soon became apparent: the timing and scoring platform had collapsed in a separate incident. The race was finally called on lap eight. The round was cancelled, and while racing returned to the area, it wouldn’t be on the same circuit.
With the arrival of the 1980s, the series’ Ford representatives had begun looking into a new model for the car, believing they could go even faster. However, even with the discontinuation of most of the models either by the 1980s or in the early 1980s, the Chevy, Falcon, GTX and Torino had proven themselves so popular that the series kept using them. Once again, not everything was sunshine and rainbows for the series.
Octavio Suárez was a burly man and a fairly older one too, but behind the wheel of his Dodge GTX he fit in with his fellow competitors, despite being head of the ACTC. Sadly, he would become another victim of the Turismo Carretera.
On lap one of the Vuelta de Benito Juárez in 1984, Suárez’s car blew a tire and the car shot off the track on a very long straightaway. The car went end over end and landed on its wheels, completely destroyed. The car soon burst into flames, forcing Norberto Torre, his co-driver, to evacuate out the windshield. Suárez, however, was pinned.
Torre turned around and asked Suárez if there was a bar or something he could use to help get his driver out of the burning vehicle. Suárez’s arm was pinned against the door, but when Suárez saw a spectator approach with a flashlight, he, smelling fuel, ordered the spectator away. As Torre backed up to try and find a resolution, he noticed officials approaching the scene, who he beckoned to the scene, but the moment they arrived at the car, the Dodge GTX exploded. The race continued for a few more laps, though it was halted early. The series had lost its leader, and no one wanted to race. Eerily, the year prior, Octavio’s wife had passed away, leading Octavio to ask his brother, who had usually been his acompañante to that point, to retire, as if the pair had both been killed in a crash, his children would have been orphaned.
Even more tragedy was down the road, however. By 1988, semipermanente circuits were making up about half the calendar. Ford had found their alternate model in the Fairlane, which was just starting to be used in Turismo Carretera. Most semipermanente circuits were fully paved, the Gran Premio had been discontinued, and even then the semipermanente circuits were much smaller than they had been, at usually no more than ten kilometers long. Grid sizes often totalled in at around 50 to maybe 60, and the 750th Turismo Carretera race, which was held that year at the Circuito Semipermanente de Benedicto Campos, at Necochea, Buenos Aires province, was no exception.
On lap 14 of 21, Edgardo Caparrós, the son of Raimundo Caparrós, who had been killed in a Turismo Carretera accident in 1965, was running down the track’s longest straight when the car threw a tire. Caparrós, who’d been the winner of the previous season’s last two events, veered off the road and into the crowd. It demolished a caravan, a parked car, and flattened a tent before digging in and rolling five times. Edgardo Caparrós survived the accident, which stopped the race immediately, but he suffered severe head injuries that would force his retirement. Worse off was his acompañante, Alberto Belloli, who was killed, as were twelve spectators and an unborn child. At 14 confirmed dead, it was the worst accident in the history of Argentine motorsport, and finally led to the discontinuation of spectator enclosures being directly off the road. All tracks had to be closed off, though semipermanente circuits survived.
The next year was the year of the Ford Fairlane, which was used alongside the Falcons during the season by a few drivers. Oscar Angeletti was the frontrunner of the Fairlanes, winning three races and finishing second in the championship chase. Angeletti, however, was very badly injured during the 1990 season opener at Santa Teresita when his car went off and struck a pole at high speed. He would survive, but never raced again. The Ford Fairlane was eventually phased out at year’s end, and the cavalry went back to the Falcons.
Through death and excitement, semipermanente circuits had survived. They didn’t make up the bulk of the schedule any longer, but they were still being run. Gravel roads had been phased out after 1968, and dirt roads had been done away with in the late 80s, but the old remnants of the past had survived into the 1990s. A pair of fatal crashes, however, spelt their end.
Roberto Mouras was a very frequent frontrunner in the series, as he had been since the 1970s. He had three titles to his name, and had almost won the championship in his first fulltime year in 1971. Even in the 1990s, he was still a frontrunner, and he had a championship shot going into the penultimate round of the championship, the Vuelta de Lobos, in 1992.
During practice, Mouras stepped out of the car, and expert tuner Jorge Pedersoli, who had once been Mouras’ acompañante, stepped in. He ran a couple of laps to see if he could diagnose a nagging problem with the left front of the car that the team had been enduring. Mouras had lost a recent race due to a failure of the left front, and the problem hadn’t been going away. Pedersoli had a scary moment behind the wheel, but the problem was not addressed much further. During the main event, the left front again gave way, and Mouras skidded the car off at full speed, hitting an earth wall with so much force that the roll cage was shattered. The car went skyward, landing with a sickening thud. Mouras died on the spot, and his co-driver Amadeo González was terribly injured. He died a few days later. The race was ended, with Mouras being declared the winner.
In 1994, Osvaldo Morresi, a former teammate of Mouras, slipped in another car’s oil during a race at La Plata and crashed into another earth wall. Morresi was pronounced dead within a few hours, and Jorge Marceca, his acompañante, was badly injured. Marceca died of his injuries two days later. Morresi, one of the best drivers in the series and one of the most successful to never win a title, also won the race he was killed in posthumously. This crash was the last straw, and semipermanente circuits were prohibited. They continued for three more years, but the very last semipermanente circuit to be used was the Santa Teresita circuit in 1997. Turismo Carretera had done away with something so influential it had given the series its name. That same year, Dodge and IKA both introduced new models to run in Turismo Carretera to slowly replace the Dodge GTX and IKA Torino, prototype models known as the Dodge Cherokee and Torino Cherokee. The pair of Cherokees, developed hand in hand, were based off the GTX and IKA Torino respectively and were created solely for racing. Their goal was to end the dominance of Chevrolet and Ford, which proved somewhat successful, though it would take a few years.
Dodge still struggled, however, while they attempted to get their Cherokees up to speed, and yet another tragedy would make the time before the Cherokees were competitive enough even more miserable. During a practice session for the round at Rafaela in 1998, Raúl Petrich, a Dodge mainstay, told his team that he detected an issue with the car’s undercarriage that was holding him back. His normal co-driver hopped out, and Oscar Lafeudo, a chassis expert, hopped into the passenger seat, a legal maneuver in practice. On his last lap of the day, however, the Dodge went straight on into a corner. Rafaela had seen very few updates since USAC had stopped by in 1971, so rather loose steel guardrails were still being used in the corners. When the Dodge hit the wall, it broke off the guardrail support, and the steel guardrail entered the cabin, instantly and graphically killing both occupants. The round was completely cancelled, and Rafaela built proper barriers for the series’ next visit.
By the beginning of the 2000s, Turismo Carretera had hit a rhythm. Circuits were all permanent with the occasional air base or closed street circuit event. Acompañantes were still being used. They were completely optional, however. The classic look of the cars also remained, and they were both loved by and popular with the public.
However, there were still more changes to be made, and again it would take tragedy to change them. Turismo Carretera has many junior series, one of which is TC Pista. During a race at Rafaela in 2006, Alberto Noya spun his car in a chicane and was hit full-bore by Hugo Fayanás directly in the passenger door. Both Noya and his acompañante, Gabriel Miller, died, forcing the cancellation of the Pista race and the Turismo Carretera Final. Rather famously, the fans, well past drunk by this point, were not pleased with the race’s cancellation. They set fire to tires and banners in protest, but officials did not budge.
Turismo Carretera, in a historic ruling, ruled that acompañantes would be done away with at the beginning of 2008, only for their discontinuation to be made immediate after a bizarre crash at Rivadavia in mid-2007 claimed the life of Turismo Carretera competitor Guillermo Castellanos, who was fatally injured when his car was struck while he attempted to navigate a crash. Even though his co-driver wasn’t injured in the accident, the Turismo Carretera prohibited the use of them immediately. There was another thing that was done away with in 2008: the tiradita, which was completely outlawed by the ACTC.
The beginning of the 2010s was marred by one last tragedy for the series. Guido Falaschi had worked his way from Argentine Formula Renault in 2008 to Turismo Carretera in 2011 at the age of 22. Going into the semi-final race of the year at Balcarce, he had an outside shot at the championship, which was further helped by Guido qualifying pole position.
Balcarce had proved itself a dangerous circuit, using primary tire barriers and earth walls instead of concrete. A pair of Fiat 600s had once flown over the fence in the same turn during a race in separate accidents, and even during the 2011 race weekend Agustín Canapino utterly destroyed his car during practice, though he was surprisingly not injured.
With two to go in the main event, leader Mauro Giallombardo encountered the lapped car of Leonel Larrauri with Guido Falaschi running a close second. Rounding a small bend, Larrauri bailed out of the leaders’ way with too much speed and ran off. Guido Falaschi found Larrauri’s car bouncing in front of him and darted to the side to the track in an attempt to avoid Larrauri. Falaschi’s car hit the tires and spun into the middle of the circuit, being hit by Guillermo Ortelli and then Nestor Girolami, whose Torino struck the Ford in the driver’s door. The race was red flagged and ended a lap early as rescue crews worked to extricate Falaschi, who was pronounced dead of a basilar skull fracture an hour later, the 126th competitor fatality in Turismo Carretera. Guido’s race team, HAZ Racing Team, closed down immediately after his death. It would reopen the next year as Por Siempre Guido (Forever Guido) 16 Team, running touring cars.
Balcarce was closed down in the aftermath of the crash, organizers deciding the track simply was too unsafe. As of 2018, it has not reopened.
Today, Turismo Carretera continues on. Turismo Carretera is currently considered a stock car series, in a way the Argentine equivalent of NASCAR complete with double-file restarts and high speed banked turns, and even a playoff system. Grids often clock in at about 45 per event. Races usually consist of practice and qualifying, followed by a series of three short heats to determine starting grid and, if there is a need for DNQs, who they will be. Afterwards is the Final, which is often between 100 to 120km, though there is an annual 1000km endurance event held at Buenos Aires. The season usually starts early, in February, and ends in December.
There are a myriad of series that drivers can use to step up to Turismo Carretera, however drivers who want to move right to Turismo Carretera start in the TC Pista Mouras series, which began in 2008. Drivers who move up from this series go on to TC Mouras, which began in 2004, after which is the TC Pista series, which was created in 1995. These, along with an Argentine Porsche GT3 series, are the series run by the ACTC.
The series is supported by a myriad of other series. TC2000 and Súper TC2000 are a pair of touring car series that usually run their own race weekends, but will occasionally support Turismo Carretera. Both series are very high-ranked, especially Súper TC2000. The two series use cars such as the Citroën C4 Lounge, Toyota Corolla, Renault Fluence, Peugeot 408, Fiat Linea, Chevrolet Cruze, and Ford Focus.
Another popular series in Argentina is Top Race, another high-ranked touring car series that used to be owned by the ACTC, but no longer is. Top Race has three levels, Top Race, V6, and Junior, and uses its own regulations, regulations which can best be described as a mix of Supertouring and S2000. In it run the Ford Mondeo, Mitsubishi Lancer, and Volkswagen Passat.
Yet another big series in Argentina is Turismo Nacional, a production car series with two separate classes. C2, the secondary class, consists of segment B cars, usually seen as subcompacts by American definition, such as Renault Clios and Peugeot 208s. C3, the primary class, uses segment C cars, the American equivalent of which are compact cars. Cars used include the Honda Civic, Renault Mégane, and Volkswagen Vento.
These are only some of the series. Also popular is GT2000, a sports prototype series a la IMSA Lights, Turismo Pista, a fairly similar series to Turismo Nacional with three classes, a Formula Renault series, and many more. These series all help contribute to Argentina’s love for motor racing, but of course racing’s popularity is best seen in Turismo Carretera.
NASCAR has always had its fair share of weird stories and interesting occurrences. Here’s a list of 99 odd happenings and fun little bits about the United States’ most popular racing series.
Lee Petty entered the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock race at Charlotte in 1949 in a Buick he borrowed from a friend. Lee’s ‘pit crew’, if you could call it one, consisted of his sons Richard, 11, and Maurice, 10. Lee upended the car during the event, forcing him to replace the car and hike home.
NASCAR occasionally allowed foreign marques to compete in select races in the 1950s and early 1960s. In fact, open top cars were permitted at NASCAR’s inaugural road race, held in 1954 at the Linden Airport in New Jersey. At all other ‘international’ races, however, only hardtops were permitted.
During a race in Columbia, South Carolina in 1952, a fan in a pedestrian car attempted to cross the track and was struck by E.C. Ramsey’s Ford, taking Ramsey out of the race. Ramsey, unhurt, hopped out of his wrecked car and pummeled the drunkard until cops arrived.
In 1976, two NASCAR cars were invited to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The cars were popular with the French crowd, but neither did very much. One of them, the #4 Dodge Charger of Hershel McGriff and Doug McGriff, blew up after two laps. The other, the #90 Ford Torino of Dick Brooks, Dick Hutcherson, and local Marcel Mignot, made it 104 laps before it, too, broke.
The only driver to win in his only start is Marvin Burke, who won a race at Oakland in 1951.
Window nets began appearing around the mid-1960s and were optional until mid-1970.
A driver by the name of J. Christopher competed in the inaugural NASCAR road race at Linden. Christopher dropped out of the race halfway through. Christopher was part of an amateur sports car group and would have lost his amateur status if he’d not entered under a false name. J. Christopher’s real name is Conrad Janis – yes, the same Conrad Janis as the one who played Mindy’s dad on Mork & Mindy.
Joey Logano attempted – but did not qualify for – a 250-lap ASA race at the Lanier National Speedway when he was 13. He would qualify for several races that year in the series after he’d turned 14.
Clint Bowyer almost hung up on Richard Childress’ secretary when Childress was calling him to inquire about Bowyer joining his driver development program. Bowyer believed it to be one of his friends playing a joke on him.
Carl Edwards used business cards to promote his driving abilities.
Jimmy Ingram of Jacksonville, Florida ran three Cup races in his career, one in 1951, one in 1952, and one in 1980. This 28-year gap is the largest between starts for a Cup driver.
The record for most DNQs by a driver who never qualified for a NASCAR Cup race is likely St. James Davis, who attempted 16 Cup races without ever qualifying for one. All of these events were combination events with the NASCAR West Series, where West drivers could attempt to time their way in to Cup races.
NASCAR actually ran four races in Japan. The fourth race was held at Motegi in 1999, and counted for NASCAR West Series points. It was won by Kevin Richards. Poor attendance led to it being a one-off.
Lake Speed won the 1978 World Karting Championships over such names as Stefan Bellof and Ayrton Senna. He spent 1979 mulling his options and refining his skills, and made his Winston Cup debut in January 1980 at Riverside, meaning, for all intents and purposes, Speed jumped right from karting to NASCAR Cup.
Jimmy Florian won a race in Canfield, Ohio in 1950 without a shirt on. It was an extremely hot day, and there were no rules saying he had to wear a shirt.
Herman Beam received NASCAR’s first black flag during a qualifying race at Daytona in 1960 for not wearing a helmet. He ignored the black flag for about eight laps, but eventually came into the pits and was parked.
In 1953, at the age of 12, Morgan Shepherd bought his first car. It cost him $12.50, two flying squirrels, a gray squirrel, and a 20 gauge shotgun.
Race cars have ended up in some weird places over the years. Lee Petty once found himself spinning onto a baseball diamond during a race at Soldier Field in Chicago, Wilbur Rakestraw once plummeted into a cesspool after going off at Lakewood Speedway’s third turn, and Rich Woodland, Jr. flipped his car into the parking area at Sonoma Raceway in 1994.
The tire bundles on Sonoma Raceway’s NASCAR layout are composed of more than 25000 tires.
John Andretti tested a Lincoln Mark VIII at Charlotte in 1996. Lincoln was planning on possibly re-entering the Cup Series in the near future, but parent company Ford decided they wanted to only enter cars with the Ford name attached.
Toyota debuted in NASCAR in the International Sedan (later Goody’s Dash) Series in 1982. It used the Corolla model. The driver of that Corolla was Davey Allison.
Toyota later returned to NASCAR in the Goody’s Dash Series (again) with the Celica Coupe model in 2000. It was introduced back to NASCAR by road racer Eric Van Cleef. Van Cleef soon returned to road racing, but the Celica Coupe proved popular with drivers, and in 2003, Toyota won the manufacturer’s title with Robert Huffman.
The tallest driver to ever attempt a NASCAR race is Gregory Vandersluis, an SCCA driving instructor who was entered for the 2017 Xfinity race at Road America for the Obaika team. As was typical of Obaika, they withdrew, and Gregory, who stands at a monumental six foot eight, never raced.
The shortest driver to ever attempt a NASCAR race is likely Rico Abreu, who drove for Thorsport in the Truck Series for two seasons. He stands at four foot four.
Cup drivers are not required to have a standard driver’s license.
Driver Dink Widenhouse crashed his #B-29 car during a race at Darlington in 1956, and suffered a cut arm. Dink noticed he was bleeding while he climbed out of his car, passed out from the shock, and became entangled in the safety belts. When safety crews reached Dink, who was otherwise uninjured, he was upside-down angled against the car.
Datsuns were mainstays in the Dash Series in the mid-80s, as were Nissans when Nissan acquired Datsun later in the decade.
Mazda ran in the NASCAR Mexico Series for several years using the Mazda6 model.
Rodrigo Peralta drove the field’s only Ford to the NASCAR Mexico title in 2013.
Jeff Gordon, by his own admission, ran the 24h of Daytona in 2017, which his team won, for free.
No one knows what happened to Bob Pronger, a NASCAR competitor in the 50s. He disappeared early in 1971 and his fate remains unknown, though he’s suspected to have been a victim of the mafia.
NASCAR pioneer Buddy Shuman died in 1955 when he fell asleep in a hotel holding a lit cigarette in his hand, leading to a fire. He died of smoke inhalation.
Even when their usage was still commonplace in NASCAR, triple digit numbers were not allowed at the Darlington Raceway with very few exceptions.
Driver Allan Clarke ran a car “numbered” R-D at a race in West Palm Beach in 1954.
Car number X was also used on several occasions in the 50s, most notably by Rex White. Car number X can still be seen occasionally on short tracks. In fact, in some of the earliest races, cars did not require numbers.
Other bizarre numbers, all of them used in the “old era” of the NASCAR Modifieds, include #7777, #10-10, #10%, and #L-M.
No one knows the actual age of Red Farmer, a longtime part-timer in both NASCAR and ARCA who still ran sporadic dirt track events well into the 2000s. Birth certificates were still not mandatory and were sometimes not given out to the dirt-poor, and Farmer himself does not remember. Several sources give his DoB as October 15th, 1932, though Farmer seems to go with sometime in 1928.
In 1951, Frank Mundy carpooled with Marshall Teague in order to get to a race in Gardena, California. Mundy didn’t have a car available, and rented a ’50 Chevy from a local dealership, which he used in the race to finish 11th. Mundy had to return the car at night so the employees didn’t notice the balded tires. However, they apparently did notice, to which Mundy said the alignment was probably out and left.
The minnow pond that led to Darlington being so oddly shaped no longer exists.
Kevin Harvick finished last for the first time, after almost 1100 races in NASCAR’s top 3 series, when he crashed out of the 2018 Coke 600.
In 1956, Lee Petty took it upon himself to end a crash riddled race at the Tulsa Fairgrounds by snatching the red flag out of the flagman’s hand and waving drivers down. Conditions had been awful that day, and of the 13 starters, only seven were still running on lap 32, when Lee, who himself had just wrecked out, ended the race. The crowd was understandably not pleased, but eventually they left. The race was annulled and was not rescheduled.
The NASCAR West Series has run the Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca on a few occasions, most recently in 2001.
Fonty Flock passed the time during several races in 1952 by playing radio music.
Carl Kiekhaefer reportedly once built a bonfire out of the engines of his business rivals, then danced around the flames.
Superspeedway ringer Phil Barkdoll, who ran a NASCAR team for about 15 years, apparently started racing on a dare from a friend.
Tim Flock suffered a concussion and was out for a month when a car ran over his head while he was napping before a race to be held in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1953.
If his own word is to be believed, Greenville, South Carolina’s Jimmy Vaughn ran both the supporting Bama 400 Grand Touring race and the inaugural Alabama 500 at Talladega in 1969 on the same set of tires. He completed almost 750 miles combined.
J.D. McDuffie used McCreary tires when he stunningly won the pole for a race at Dover in 1978. McCreary tires are, or at least were, notable for providing excellent speed but not lasting very long, and indeed, the tires wore out after eight laps. He lost the lead two laps later, and lost the engine on lap 80. It was still enough to qualify for the inaugural Busch Clash race for pole winners in 1979.
McDuffie won $10,000 in the inaugural Clash despite finishing ninth (last). This was about double what McDuffie won in all of 1978.
The inaugural Southern 500 in 1950 was interesting, to say the least. For example, Hershel McGriff of Oregon drove his car to the race and spent a few days sleeping on the county courthouse lawn.
At the inaugural Southern 500, many drivers, not used to such a long race, brought an assortment of drinks, with one driver reportedly bringing some beer to drink during it. According to Buck Baker, the beer quickly foamed up, and the back of the car began to look like a washing machine as the booze sloshed out the window.
Baker himself wrecked out on lap 176, and was shaken but all right. Baker had brought a jug of tomato juice, which went flying everywhere. When a first responder reached Baker, covered in red liquid and slumped, he thought Baker’d been beheaded.
The #98jr of race winner Johnny Mantz’s infamous truck tires, on which he lapped the track at low speed but without a tire change – a several minute process at the time – were Firestones. They were the only Firestones on the grid.
The inaugural Southern 500 only paid out money to the top 18 finishers and to a couple drivers who did well in qualifying. 19th place Joe Eubanks, despite finishing ahead of 56 other drivers, received nothing.
According to some heavy cross-referencing, seven drivers flipped in the infamous pileup on the first lap of the NASCAR Modified-Sportsman race in 1960: #25 Bill Wark, #38 Ralph Earnhardt, #40 Stan Kross, #74 Dick Freeman, #84 Acey Taylor, #89 Wendell Scott and #92 Larry Thomas. Scott actually returned to the race.
During a Busch North (now East) race at Lime Rock in 2005, Dale Quarterley flipped his car on the first lap after being stuffed into the tire wall, drove the wrecked car back to the pits, and eventually returned to the race. The car itself was reportedly very fast despite the flip, even capable of unlapping itself.
In 1955, Tiny Lund flipped his car at the Memphis-Arkansas Speedway in Arkansas. The safety belts broke and Lund was thrown from the car, but thankfully he escaped with little more than a broken arm and bruises. Lund’s sponsor that day was Rupert Safety Belts.
Junior Johnson holds the record for most confirmed flips by a NASCAR driver with seven. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Michael Waltrip are tied for second place with five each.
Within a span of two races, at the Arizona State Fairgrounds and Daytona Beach and Road Course, in 1956, ten drivers flipped their cars. Sherman Clark, Jim Stapley, Bill Stammer, Bob Ruppert, and Howard Phillipi flipped at the Fairgrounds, and Buddy Krebs, Jim Wilson, Russ Truelove, Junior Johnson, and Ralph Moody flipped at Daytona Beach.
Fireball Roberts’ real name was Glenn. He was nicknamed Fireball because he pitched a mean fastball in high school baseball.
Tiny Lund’s real name was DeWayne. He was nicknamed Tiny due to his massive stature.
NASCAR, like most sports, has its fair share of very embarrassing nicknames, such as Paul “Wimpy” Ervin and Thomas “Cotton” Priddy.
Current Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman apparently does not like being called “Bowman the Showman”.
ARCA/NASCAR Trucks driver Bo LeMastus’ real name is James. His nickname was coined by his grandfather when a young LeMastus took a photo with him while wearing a bow tie.
At least four former NASCAR drivers are known to currently work in real estate, Boston Reid, Buckshot Jones, James Buescher, and Dylan Kwasniewski.
Brandon Whitt reportedly works as a plumber, Ryan Hemphill’s got a factory job, and Todd Kleuver’s a roofer.
Retired drivers with other racing-related jobs include Josh Wise, who works as a driver coach and fitness trainer, and Kyle Krisiloff, who organizes entertainment and music at Indianapolis.
Former drivers who are now crew chiefs include Matt McCall (Jamie McMurray), Paul Wolfe (Brad Keselowski), Mario Gosselin (Alex Labbe), and Brian Keselowski (Jordan Anderson), though McCall does run very sporadic late model events.
Former drivers who are now spotters include Tim Fedewa (Kevin Harvick), T.J. Majors (Joey Logano), and Kevin Hamlin (Alex Bowman), among many others.
T.J. Majors met Dale Earnhardt, Jr. while racing online, and soon became Jr.’s protégé as he rose through the late model ranks.
The winner of the equivalent to the All Star Open (the Atlanta Invitational) in 1986, Benny Parsons, did not transfer to the All Star Race (then called The Winston).
Curley Barker ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap of a NASCAR Grand National/Pacific Coast combination event at Portland Speedway in 1956, giving the win to Lloyd Dane. Barker, while far from the first or last NASCAR driver to lose the win on the last lap, is the only loser in a last lap pass to never actually score a win, either before the event or after.
About an hour before the start of a Grand National race at the Wilson Speedway in North Carolina in 1959, the grandstands caught fire and burned down. No one was injured, but the crowd of 8800 had to stand to watch the event.
Carl Kiekhaefer’s departure from NASCAR before the 1957 season was apparently so abrupt and done with so little fanfare that most pre-season entry lists still had him listed, even in the days leading up to the season’s first major event at Daytona Beach.
The Riverside Raceway held 3 races in 1981, its traditional January race, its also-preexistent June race, and a new race in November, bookending the season. This would be the last year where the January race was held.
A NASCAR Convertible race at the Asheville-Weaverville Speedway in North Carolina in 1956 ended with 181/200 laps complete because there was only one car still running. A jarring 14-car pileup had broken out on the backstretch, and only one driver, Curtis Turner, had survived the mayhem.
Only one spectator has been killed during a Cup race: W.R. Thomasson, who died when he was struck by debris during a race at North Wilkesboro in 1957.
The Goody’s Dash Series ran a dirt race in 2003 at the Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Georgia. Danny Bagwell won the 150-lap jaunt, which saw 15 caution flags.
Curtis Turner piloted a Nash Ambassador to victory at the Charlotte Speedway in 1951. This would be the Nash manufacturer’s only win. The Nash Ambassador was usually seen as a joke by most drivers, making it almost fitting that the Ambassador, nicknamed the ‘upside-down bathtub’ by many, won its only NASCAR race on April 1st.
Despite hosting the first NASCAR Strictly Stock race in 1949, the Charlotte Speedway only lasted a few more years. The 0.750 mile dirt oval closed after the 1956 season when Interstate 85, then still under construction, took its parking lot.
New Hampshire International Speedway was supposed to be banked at 12 degrees, but the blueprints didn’t specify whether the 12 near the corners was 12 degrees or 12% grade. The construction crew assumed it was the latter, hence why it was only built to 8 degrees in the turns.
Tom Cherry competed at the Daytona Beach and Road Course in 1953 with two numbers adorning his car. #38, the number placed on the sides, was the one he used for the event, and #120, the number placed on the roof, had been used when Cherry ran the Carrera Panamericana road race with the same vehicle.
NASCAR had a Midget Division that operated until 1962.
For a couple races in 1953, Tim Flock had a rhesus monkey by the name of Jocko Flocko in his car as a passenger. The fans loved Jocko, with whom Tim even scored a win, but after a freakout by Jocko cost Tim a race at Raleigh Speedway, Flock decided that Jocko had to go.
The morning before the 1974 Winston 500, drivers and crews arrived at the Talladega Superspeedway to find that someone had filled their fuel tanks with sand and had cut brake lines. Despite the best efforts of investigators, the saboteur was never caught.
The youngest driver to compete in NASCAR’s top series was Tommie Elliott, who competed at the Altamont-Schenectady Fairgrounds in 1951 at the age of 15 and a half. Elliott completed over 80% of the event, but whether or not he finished is unknown. He placed 15th out of 20 cars.
The racing bug never left R.C. Zimmerman, who competed in five Cup races during the 1940s and 1950s. Zimmerman was still racing as of 2013, at the age of 94, though the series he competed in appears to not have been NASCAR-sanctioned. The oldest to compete in a NASCAR sanctioned series is Hershel McGriff, who ran a NASCAR K&N West race in 2018 at Tucson, aged 90.
The 13th Southern 500, held in 1962 was listed as the 12th Renewal Southern 500 at the request of Joe Weatherly, who was famous for his belief in superstition and was considering not entering the race before the name change.
Caesar’s Palace, the street circuit once used for Formula One which saw a Winston West in 1984 on a modified layout, was well-known for its smooth as glass surface. Organizers achieved this surface by having taxi drivers repeatedly lap the circuit.
In 1963, the organizer of the Rebel 300 at Darlington changed the race’s format from a 219 lap race to two 110 lap races, with a 30 minute intermission. Drivers were scored using a confusing points system. Joe Weatherly was ruled the winner with 197.8 points, having finished first in segment one and second in segment two, Fireball Roberts, third place in both segments, was scored second with 191.7 points, and Richard Petty, the segment two winner, was third with 187.9 points. The format was never used again.
NASCAR would occasionally run two races on the same day in its early seasons at different circuits. In fact, there were two instances in 1948, the inaugural NASCAR Modified season, where three races were held on the same day, all at different tracks, plus another instance that year where one track held a doubleheader and the other a single race on the same day, and yet another instance where two tracks held doubleheaders, both on the same day.
In its early seasons, NASCAR also used to run a few races at the tail end of one year which would count for the next year’s points chase. In fact, on November 11th, 1956, two races were held, one at Hickory Speedway in North Carolina, and one at Willow Springs Raceway in California. The Hickory race counted for the 1956 points table, but the Willow Springs race counted for 1957 points.
Six of the top seven finishers in a race held at the Augusta Raceway in November 1963 (counting for 1964 points) would die in car accidents before the end of January 1965. Winner Fireball Roberts, second place Dave MacDonald, third place Billy Wade, fourth place Joe Weatherly, and sixth place Jimmy Pardue were killed in racing accidents, while seventh place Larry Thomas was killed in a highway crash in January 1965. Fifth place Ned Jarrett was the only exception.
Three NASCAR starter flags were taken into space in 2008 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. One of the flags was presented to Ryan Newman, the Daytona 500 winner that year, a second was put on display, and NASA kept the third.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Division does not use Goodyear tires. It used Michelin tires from 2009, its first season, through its acquisition by NASCAR in 2012, until 2017. The Division switched to BF Goodrich tires in 2018. NASCAR Euro isn’t the only NASCAR series to not use Goodyears, as NASCAR Mexico has used Continentals for some time.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Division’s two series, Elite 1 and Elite 2, run the same race lengths: 30 minutes. The difference is in the FIA driver rankings, with Elite 1 being more for the professional racers and young talents, and Elite 2 being more for the journeymen and hobbyist racers.
NASCAR Euro also has a Club Division. In this division, drivers run one at a time, and the best time wins. This division is stated to be for the journeymen who more enjoy simply driving race cars than competing, and for the rookies who aren’t sure if the Division’s for them.
NASCAR Euro ran a rain race on an oval in 2014 at the Tours Speedway. The Speedway is built out of a parking lot and its berms, and its low banks and drainage systems permitted a rain race. It was won by Mathias Lauda.
Canadian Tire, the former sponsor of the current NASCAR Pinty’s Series, is not a garage, nor a brand of tire – it’s a hobby shop, though most have tools and equipment for car enthusiasts.
Well, that’s the end of that, I’ll see you all later.
“Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France”, book by Daniel S. Pierce
“Bowyer gets surprise call, and ride, from Childress”, May 16th, 2004 edition of The Morning Call (Allentown)
“SIX DIVISIONS – TWO CHAMPIONS AT IRWINDALE”, October 5th, 2013 article on Irwindale Speedway’s website
“Karting Passion Comes Full Circle for Karting Legend Lake Speed”, August 10th, 2015 article on ekartingnews
Tiny Lund’s profile on Decades of Racing
Sonoma Raceway’s website
“NASCAR Chronicle”, book by Greg Fielden
“Red Farmer: The Stock Car Interview”, October 18th, 2007 article to stockcarracing
Legends of NASCAR
“BNS: Dale Quarterley: Race Notes”, October 3rd, 2005 article on motorsport.com
“Helen Rae is really something special”, August 20th, 1986 article in The Anniston Star
“Hall of Fame memories for 2013”, February 8th, 2013 article on ESPN
“1001 NASCAR Facts: Cars, Tracks, Milestones, Personalities”, book by John Close
“First Southern 500 Featured 75 Cars, Many Driven To Track Then Home Again”, May 9th, 2012 article on SB Nation
“Baker Leads Chryslers To 150-Mile Race Sweep”, January 23rd, 1956 article in Arizona Republic
“The Early Laps of Stock Car Racing: A History of the Sport and Business”, book by Betty Boles Ellison
“Glen Wood still getting it done”, February 14th, 2010 article on ESPN
“Full Throttle: The Life and Fast Times of NASCAR Legend Curtis Turner”, book by Robert Edelstein
“The 9 weirdest things ever flown on the Space Shuttle”, July 8th, 2011 article on csmonitor
This is a massive project. I will be cataloguing the circuits ARCA has raced at. I will list their location, their length, their surface, and what year they closed in. Listing what years they were run in would unfortunately take too long. I will put an asterisk if they are still used by ARCA, however. If there are multiple layouts, I will list what I find relevant. If a track was reconfigured, and is still open, I will mark what they currently use with a carrot. If all the layouts are still used, they’ll all have carrots.
411 MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved, 0.375 dirt^
Location: Seymour, Tennessee
MOTOR CITY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt
Location: Warren, Michigan
MOUNT CLEMENS SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt, 0.5 paved
Location: Mt. Clemens, Michigan
MUSKINGUM COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Zanesville, Ohio
Notes: Has had many different layouts, though I couldn’t find enough documentation on them.
Length: 1.333 paved
Location: Lebanon, Tennessee
NEW BREMEN SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved, 0.5 dirt
Location: New Bremen, Ohio
Notes: Paved in 1966, returned to dirt in 1979.
NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK
Length: 2.25 road
Location: Millville, New Jersey
Length: 0.337 paved
Length: Newport, Tennessee
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Northville, Michigan
CLOSED TO CARS, STILL OPEN TO HORSES
NORTH WILKESBORO SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 dirt, 0.625 paved
Location: North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Notes: Closed 1996, reopened 2010, closed again 2011.
OAKSHADE RACEWAY PARK
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Wauseon, Ohio
Notes: Was called Wauseon Raceway when ARCA visited.
OGLETHORPE RACEWAY PARK
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.375 dirt^
Location: Pooler, Georgia
OHIO STATE FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 1.0 dirt, 0.2 paved
Location: Columbus, Ohio
CLOSED TO CARS, MIGHT STILL BE USED FOR HORSES (dirt), AFTER 1970 (paved)
Length: 0.4375 paved
Location: Ona, West Virginia
Notes: Once known as International Raceway Park. Closed in 1972, has opened and closed every few years, most recently reopening in 2007.
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.375 paved^
Location: Ovid, Michigan
Notes: May have had several other lengths over the years.
STREETS OF DES MOINES
Length: 1.7 street
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Length: 2.66 paved
Location: Talladega, Alabama
Notes: Saw four fatalities, Gene Richards in 1982, Ken Kalla in 1983, Tracy Read in 1987, and Chris Gehrke in 1991.
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Tampa, Florida
Closed: 1971, demolished 2002
Notes: Also went by Plant Field.
TAYLOR COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Campbellsville, Kentucky
Closed: After 1968
TERRE HAUTE ACTION TRACK
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.455 paved
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
TEXAS WORLD SPEEDWAY
Length: 2.0 paved
Location: College Station, Texas
Notes: Closed 1989, reopened 1992. Was to be demolished in 2015, but demolition was delayed. Saw one fatality, Louis Wusterhausen in 1972.
THE GREATER CUMBERLAND RACEWAY
Length: 0.625 dirt
Location: Cumberland, Maryland
Length: 0.5 paved^, 0.2 paved^
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Notes: ARCA’s ‘home track’. Saw one fatality, Scott Baker in 2000. Hosts the Glass City 200.
Length: 1.0 paved, 1.5 paved
Location: Trenton, New Jersey
Closed: 1980, demolished 1981
Notes: Was replaced by a sculpture grounds, probably the best use of the land a track was once on I’ve ever seen.
USA INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Length: 0.75 paved
Location: Lakeland, Florida
VIRGINIA INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Length: 3.27 road
Location: Danville, Virginia
Notes: Closed in 1972, but reopened in 2000.
WATKINS GLEN INT’L
Length: 2.454 road
Location: Watkins Glen, New York
Notes: John Finger won ARCA’s only visit to the track in 2001. Everyone on the lead lap crashed, and Finger was the only one to get away from it, meaning he won by a lap.
WEST 16TH STREET SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Speedway, Indiana
Notes: Was across the street from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
WEST VIRGINIA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 dirt
Location: Mineral Wells, West Virginia
Notes: ARCA’s visit to this track in 1997 was the most recent time ARCA has run a dirt track that was not one mile.
WILLIAMS GROVE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.5 paved^
Location: Winchester, Indiana
Notes: Banked at an astronomical 37 degrees. Hosts the Winchester 400.
WISCONSIN INT’L RACEWAY
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin