Atlanta Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway is an ultra-modern, multi-purpose venue that has raised the bar of excellence.
Since being purchased by Bruton Smith in 1990, Atlanta has received over $100 million from the parent company. One of the new features is the luxurious 1500 Tara Place. This nine-story structure houses the corporate offices of AMS as well as 46 luxury condominiums. In addition, the clubhouse, workout room, swimming pool and championship tennis courts provide an atmosphere equal to many upscale condominium communities country club.
Other changes include the addition of 330 acres for additional facilities and parking, bringing the total speedway grounds to 870 acres. Recent additions also include over 53,000 permanent seats, a road course, a four-color electronic message center, a new ticket office and gift shop.
Atlanta is a very versatile venue. It is often used for automobile testing. Motion pictures, as well as television commercials have been made at the speedway. Additionally, corporate promotions and civic events are often held here as well. In 1994, Atlanta hosted the Countryfest concert which attracted over 200,000 spectators. In June of 1999, the Hard Rock Cafe's Rockfest, a one-day music festival drew over 100,000 fans.
Television and radio personalities as well as musicians and movie stars often attend events at Atlanta. In March of 1999 the celebrity list was headlined by former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden and Goldberg from World Championship Wrestling.
Entertaining options abound for small and large groups at Atlanta. The speedway offers group and individual tours of the facility that culminates with a drive around the legendary 1.54 quad-oval track, of course when the professionals aren't tuning their machines at over 180 mph. The Tara Ballroom, capable of seating 300 people comfortably, allows for large meetings weddings, dances or other entertainment events. The Richard Petty Driving Experience is one of four driving schools that rent track time at the Speedway. These schools are often used by companies as part of one-day retreat or convention entertainment.
Of course, there is racing. NASCAR has three races every year, two NASCAR Winston Cup Series and one NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division race, at Atlanta. The Cracker Barrell Old Country Store 500 takes place in March along with the Aaron's 312 and the NAPA 500 takes place in November. The NAPA 500, the largest single-day sporting event in Georgia, is an important event for NASCAR. It is the last points race of each season and the championship is decided by the race. Unlike many other sports that move their championships to different cities every year, NASCAR has kept its last points race at Atlanta for years.
Atlanta is a part of Speedway Motorsports Inc. This publicly traded company was formed in 1995 and includes Lowe's Motor Speedway (Charlotte, N.C.), Texas Motor Speedway (Ft. Worth), Sears Point Raceway (Sonoma, Calif.), Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Atlanta Motor Speedway underwent a dramatic change in 1997 to the tune of nearly $30 million. Included in the renovation and expansion process was the moving of the start finish line from the south side of the track to the north side and changing the configuration of the Hampton, Ga., facility from a 1.522- mile oval to a 1.54-mile quad-oval similar to Lowes Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
The reconfiguration of the track was not the only exciting news at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In August, Speedway Motorsports, Inc., Chairman of the Board Bruton Smith and Atlanta Motor Speedway President and General Manager Ed Clark, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George and Indy Racing League Executive Director Leo Mehl announced that Atlanta Motor Speedway would play host to its first Pep Boys Indy Racing League event.
Adding to the excitement was the announcement that the event would be the first race in the 39-year history of the speedway to be run at night. Musco lighting, an Iowa company that installed lights at Lowes Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, completed the installation of the lighting system prior to the Inaugural Atlanta 500 Classic, presented by MCI.
On Nov. 25, 1996, Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Lazier officially ushered in a new era at Atlanta Motor Speedway when he turned the first laps in an Indy Racing League car on the new 1.54-mile quad-oval. Lazier, who was clocked as fast as 212.576 mph, had many compliments for the speedway.
In addition to the IRL event, Atlanta Motor Speedway annually plays host to two NASCAR Winston Cup series events, including the season-ending NAPA 500 that generally determines the Winston Cup championship; one Busch Series Grand National division race, and two Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) races.
ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY FAST FACTS
- The nine-story Tara Place office and condominium complex houses AMS corporate offices and 46 condominiums.
- Largest sports facility in the state of Georgia.
- Track is available 365 days a year for meetings, commercial shoots, etc. Was rented for more than 262 days in 1998.
- Capacity: More than 124,000 permanent seats, 138 luxury suites.
- Promoter: Speedway Motorsports, owner and operator of Lowes Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Sears Point Raceway.