Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) sure started off on the wrong foot 14 years ago.
Rain, rain and more rain dampened spirits and turned parking into a nightmare for fans as not-yet-paved lots turned into mudholes. I know. I was there. Traffic was really bad, even with shuttle buses there to help. Even qualifying was rained out.
But the race went on. Drivers disliked the track and its quick drop-off from the 24 degree banking of turn 4 to the 5 degree front stretch. They were vocal about it and ownership at SMI took heed. Construction began in 1998 on the rebuilding of a 50 by 300 foot section which would dramatically ease the transition. Include in the fix..entrances and exits of the turns and elimination of the 8 degree portion of the dual banking.
TMS was a brand new track and drivers raved about it.
Since then, TMS had been mega-successful. The facility holds pretty close to 200,000 people and draws far more fans than Cowboys Stadium. G.M. Eddie Gossage does his best to make sure every seat is filled. Gossage, a likeable, highly visible and very creative promoter has run TMS since its inception. I truly believe this man is promoting the Speedway every waking moment of his life. From promotions, give-aways, concerts, tailgating parties, you name it…Texas Motor Speedway has it. And…neither Gossage nor Bruton Smith would give up until they secured a second race for TMS in the fall of 2005. Two NASCAR weekends to go along with an Indy and Truck Series weekend keeps the track hopping. When you drive by and read by the big sign in front of the track, there is always something going on.
TMS has a campground with all amenities on-site, a high rise condo tower, the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame and a 4/10 mile (separate) dirt track facility. Incidentally, September 15-17, 2011 the U.S. National Dirt Track Championship will be at the dirt track.
In case you’ve never been here. Texas Motor Speedway is a 1 1/2 mile oval, much in the mold of Charlotte or Atlanta. It’s had 2 paving projects since opening…in 1998 and 2006. The latter to correct Dale’s Dip (named after its discoverer Dale Earnhardt Jr)…a dip in the track that had formed between turn 1 and turn 2. As I eluded to earlier, the track seats 191,122 for both NASCAR and Indy. This is a great place to watch a race. And I think every driver who comes here loves it.
I can tell you that TMS is every bit as exciting and fun as Charlotte. Since I am from NC originally and having lived just up the street from CMS in the 80s and 90s, I look at this track as having a little bit of Charlotte in Texas.
So here we are, Spring Raceweek 2011. The Samsung Mobile 500 is Saturday night. The first Saturday night Sprint Cup Race at the track. Denny Hamlin swept both cup races here last year. And Friday night it’s the Nationwide Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. What a week of NASCAR fun here in Fort Worth. If you’ve never been to a race at TMS…you MUST go! I promise you will talk about it forever.
Yes I admit I’m biased. But I’ve weathered the early bad days and now get to enjoy the wonderful experience that is the Great American Track…Texas Motor Speedway.