To be fair, it isn’t just Charlotte that drives motorsport in North Carolina. There are more short tracks across the state than any other state in the Union, and their combined revenue is highest amongst all states too.
Most tracks on the NASCAR schedule tend to be motorsport enclaves. Tracks like those in Los Angeles and Dallas and Chicago exist to serve a particular geographical market and to provide people with an interest a place to gather and partake in the sport. But most of these places only hold that distinction for a weekend or two throughout the year, and then go back to being a specific part of a community in the other 50 weeks.
In North Carolina, the situation is vastly different. The history that took place here has entrenched the sport in a way unmatched by any other place in the country. In turn, it is only in North Carolina that NASCAR shapes the day-to-day life of so many people. It is a year-round haven for motorsport.
It begins with the work of U.S. Legends Cars, whose spec-built cars are now the most popular racing machines on the planet. All of their cars in the eastern United States come from their North Carolina shop, and many of them stay close to home.
Since their founding in 1992, the Legends Cars program has become the de-facto little league of stock car racing, and many drivers now competing at NASCAR’s highest level began their careers driving a USLCI car at ages eight and nine.
While USCLI has support across the world, North Carolina has become the natural headquarters of Legends car and Bandolero competition. Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts a Legends car series each summer that is the first step for many drivers to the Monster Energy Cup Series, and in combination with Concord Speedway, Legends car racing occurs in the state nearly year-round.
On the other end of the spectrum is Mooresville’s GoPro Motorplex, which is America’s premier karting facility. In the NASCAR community, it is best known as the place where Monster Energy Cup Series drivers go when they want to race for fun. The Motorplex might be one of the few places in the country where the majority of its regular patrons are doing the exact same thing that they do for a job!
As crazy as that sounds, it is worth noting that drivers will return to the Motorplex because it is a fun place to race above all else (and having personally driven there too, I can attest to this). But most of them got into the sport because it was fun for them, and I find it fitting that it is here in North Carolina that USCLI and the Motorplex combine with the other motorsports companies to complete a Blakeian circle of innocence.
In North Carolina, you can begin your racing career, make it all the way to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and then come back to the fun of it all over again.
In that sense, motorsport can completely circle your life in North Carolina. For many of us, it does.
To me, that explains why I’ve never been bothered by the fact that NASCAR does revolve around a lot of “going in circles”, as I often get told.
I, along with many other North Carolinians, am just used to it.
The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, the Performance Motorsports Network, Scorpion Radio Group, their sponsors or other contributors.
About the Writer
James Pike is a multi-faceted reporter for Race Chaser Online and a former analyst on the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Pike is a graduate of the Motorsports Management program at Belmont Abbey College and is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C., having grown up in the shadow of the legendary Bowman-Gray Stadium.
He is the founding correspondent for Race Chaser Online’s coverage of Australian Supercars, and he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Sports Journalism overseas at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, England.
Pike’s past coverage with Race Chaser Onliine includes work with multiple regional touring series in the Carolinas, including the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the CARS Tour.
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