Sunday night, the Southern 500 will be contested on Labor Day weekend for the first time since 2003. The weekend has become a tribute to NASCAR’s heritage, with several teams paying homage to the past with throwback paint schemes. Even NBC is planning a 70s theme during their broadcast. As the sport turns back the clock this weekend, here is a look at the top 10 defunct tracks in Sprint Cup history.
10. Texas World Speedway: One of just seven oval tracks in America built at 2 miles or longer , the 2-mile track in College Station hosted stock car and open-wheel events.
Richard Petty won three races at Texas World before NASCAR and USAC decided the track was not conducive to racing. It has been used as a testing facility but while be closed next year to make way for land development.
9. Hickory Speedway: Home of Cup Series champions Dale and Ned Jarrett, the venue (which opened in 1951), also saw drivers like Ralph Earnhardt and Junior Johnson (series-record seven wins) compete there. In the early years of what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series, hickory was a substantial piece of the schedule. By 1998, though, Hickory was off the schedule. Currently, the track runs club races for NASCAR and has several other divisions run there.
8. North Carolina Motor Speedway: One of the early speedways in North Carolina, the track later known as “The Rock” became one of the more popular tracks for spectators, with great racing and quality views.
In 1994, Dale Earnhardt clinched his seventh and finale championship at the track. As attendance dipped, the track lost its Cup Series races and after Truck Series races in 2012 and 2013, the track has become used as a testing facility.
7. Fairgrounds Speedway: Built on the Tennessee Sate Fairgrounds in Nashville, Fairgrounds Speedway is one of a handful of tracks that lasted from the early years to the Modern Era (1972 on). Richard Petty boasts nine wins at the track. Since its last Cup race in 1984, Fairgrounds Speedway has hosted Xfinity (formerly Busch) and Truck Series events, as well as several NASCAR support series races.
6. Greenville-Pickens Speedway: One of several short tracks in both north and South Carolina where the sport originated, Greenville-Pickens was a half-mile track where David Pearson and Ned Jarrett won a combined nine times. Although it has not hosted a Cup Series event since 1971, the track has run several races for support series and does so currently.
5. North Wilkesboro Speedway: A track that hosted the season finale in 1949, North Wilkesboro became an important link to the sport’s roots as it grew into a national phenomenon. In 1994, Geoff Bodine became the last driver to win by at least a lap, doing so ahead of second-place Terry Labonte.
Two years later, the track was bought by New Hampshire Motor Speedway owner Bob Bahre and Speedway Motorsports, Inc. CEO Bruton Smith. Even as the track was closed in October 2011, fans still yearn for racing there.
4. Ontario Motor Speedway: A Southern California track with appeal to open-wheel stars, Ontario was built identically to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.5-mile rectangular-shaped track with nine degrees of banking.
A.J. Foyt, Bobby Allison and Benny Parsons combined to win six of the ten events. The track was closed in 1980, but helped usher in an era of superspeedways built across the nation.
3. Bowman-Gray Stadium: The former home for Wake Forest football, Bowman-Gray Stadium became famous in NASCAR for its 1/4-mile asphalt track.
The venue was one of many stomping grounds for some of the sport’s biggest teams, as Petty Enterprises, Rex White and the Wood Brothers combined for 17 wins. 44 years after its last cup race, Bowman-Gray still hosts Modified and East Series races for NASCAR.
2. Riverside International Raceway: Another Southern California track with appeal to open-wheel stars 2.62-mile road course in Southern California. Riverside helped bring several open-wheel stars to the sport, as AJ Foyt, Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones were among those to drive stock cars at the track.
Ricky Rudd also gave Richard Childress his first win as an owner in 1983. Five years later, the track held its last NASCAR event and a year later, Riverside was closed.
1. Daytona Beach Road Course: Home of the series’ second race, the road course at Daytona Beach in Florida varied from 3.1 to 4.2 miles in length.
From 1948 to 1958, drivers like Tim and Fonty Flock, Cotton Owens and Marshall Teague dominated events at the venue. By 1959, racing in the area was moved to the new Daytona International Speedway, but the importance of the beach course is lost on no one in the sport.
See You Soon.