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« Is Gordon’s recent record really any better than Junior’s? | Main | Kyle Busch wins and jabs at NASCAR from victory lane »

Phoenix track deserves its place on the NASCAR schedule

By admin | April 8, 2010


By Richard Allen

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series began racing at the Phoenix International Raceway in 1988. And unlike so many of the non-traditional facilities on the yearly Sprint Cup schedule, this track actually looks like it belongs among the older NASCAR venues.

When thinking of the places where NASCAR seems to belong one tends to bring up locales such as Darlington, Charlotte, Martinsville and Daytona. Even though a couple of those venues have been copied, they were each unique for their day when first built. With few unique qualities, the newer racing palaces have taken on the copycat shapes of 1.5 to 2 mile ‘cookie cutter’ tracks.

PIR on the other hand is nothing like the tracks in Chicago, Kansas, California or Las Vegas. Instead of being yet another 1.5 to 2 mile track, this speedway measures in at one mile. And rather than having a similar shape as the all too common D-shaped raceways of today, this track is unique. The turns are each banked differently. And, rather than a common shape, the track has two straightaways of varying lengths with the backstretch having a bit of a kink in the middle.

Fans have rewarded the facility by filling the grandstands and hillsides surrounding the racing surface. Unlike the other places to have been added from outside the NASCAR norm, this track does not have scores of empty seats clearly visible at the drop of the green flag. Of course, that may not be true in this year of a sour economy but it typically is the case.

In 2005, NASCAR awarded a second date to PIR. This added date is not nearly so open to criticism as the second date added to the Auto Club Speedway located in the Los Angeles area. That track has an embarrassing number of empty chairs at its races.

It would seem as though track building giants Speedway Motorsports, Inc and International Speedway Corp. would have learned from PIR. It’s unique shape gives it character and provides entertaining racing, unlike the tracks these two promoting agencies have built in recent times.

Unlike its relatively new-to-the-schedule counterparts, Phoenix International Raceway has taken a place among the more traditional venues on the NASCAR schedule. This place really belongs.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

One Response to “Phoenix track deserves its place on the NASCAR schedule”

  1. Mike Southern Says:
    April 9th, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Nice piece, but all wrong. PIR is a stinker of a place. It is impossible to get in and out of. The concourse is so small that it becomes uncomfortably crowded. Hmm? Maybe not this year? The unique flat shape makes for boring racing. The former 500 designation now Subway 600 is kilometers so what appears a long race is in fact a short one. I think this is a cheap shot. I’d wager you’ll not find one other thing in Phoenix measured using the metric system except this smoke and mirrors 600K. It takes longer to get in off the interstate than the race will last. They have re-striped the grandstand seating to widen each space and removed one backstretch section entirely. Fewer seats means fewer empty seats. Look wide boys and girls. But one thing is for sure. The weather will be marvelous. Mid 80’s, blindingly sunny, and still as a snake in the grass. And if you like really crowded big cities with lots of traffic, Phoenix is your kind of place.