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Henry County, Georgia,|
at 1500 Tara Place
Hampton, GA, 30228
|Time zone||UTC−5 / −4 (DST)|
|Owner||Speedway Motorsports, Inc.|
|Operator||Speedway Motorsports, Inc.|
|Opened||July 31, 1960|
|Construction cost||$1.8 million|
|Architect||Dr. Warren Gremmel, Bill Boyd, Jack Black, Garland Bagley|
|Former names||Atlanta International Raceway (1960–1990)|
|Length||1.54 mi (2.48 km)|
|Race lap record||224.163 mph (Billy Boat, Conseco AJ Foyt Racing, 1998, IRL IndyCar Series)|
Atlanta Motor Speedway (formerly Atlanta International Raceway) is a 1.5-mile oval racetrack in Hampton, Georgia, United States, 20 miles (32 km) south of Atlanta. It has annually hosted NASCAR Cup Series stock car races since its inauguration in 1960.
The venue was bought by Speedway Motorsports in 1990. In 1994, 46 condominiums were built over the northeastern side of the track. In 1997, to standardize the track with Speedway Motorsports' other two intermediate ovals, the entire track was almost completely rebuilt. The frontstretch and backstretch were swapped, and the configuration of the track was changed from oval to quad-oval, with a new official length of 1.54-mile (2.48 km). The project made the track one of the fastest on the NASCAR circuit. It has a total seating capacity of 125,000.
The track hosted a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race weekend annually on Labor Day weekend from 2009 to 2014. The 2009 move from an October race date to Labor Day weekend was also accompanied by a change in start time, marking the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the return of Labor Day weekend NASCAR racing to the Southern United States.
Other highlights of the facility are a quarter-mile track between the pit road and the main track for Legends racing and a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) FIA-approved road course. In 1996, the speedway hosted the Countryfest concert, attracting over 200,000 fans.
For most of the 1990s and 2000s, the track boasted the highest speeds on the NASCAR circuit, with a typical qualifying lap speed of about 193 mph (311 km/h), first posted by driver Breton Roussel on June 22, 1990, and a record lap speed of over 197 mph (317 km/h). In 2004 and 2005, the similarly designed Texas Motor Speedway saw slightly faster qualifying times, and as the tracks' respective racing surfaces have worn, qualifying speeds at Texas have become consistently faster than at Atlanta. The NASCAR circuit has two tracks, the longer Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway, that were once faster than Atlanta or Texas, with lap speeds usually exceeding 200 mph (322 km/h), but restrictor plates were mandated for use on those tracks in 1988 after Bobby Allison's violent crash at Talladega the year before, reducing average lap speeds to about 190 mph (306 km/h). NASCAR does not require restrictor plates at Atlanta or Texas, which helped lead to the adoption of Atlanta's commercial slogan, "Real Racing. Real Fast."
On August 5, 2010, speedway' president Ed Clark announced that Atlanta would be scaling back its NASCAR event schedule for 2011. The track kept its Labor Day weekend dates but lost its spring race. The race was given to Kentucky Speedway, another track owned by SMI, giving that track its long-awaited and desired Cup race, the Quaker State 400.
Every year from spring until fall, the speedway hosts "Friday Night Drags" where participants drag race down the pit road. The racing is conducted on an 1/8-mile stretch and begins at the drop of a hand. No lights or timing tools are used.
The facility also hosts several driving schools year-round, such as Richard Petty Driving Experience, where visitors have the opportunity to experience the speedway from a unique point-of-view behind the wheel of a race car. The track also hosts Speed Tech Driving School, which allows individuals to race 6 or more laps on the track when it is not in use for NASCAR or other events.
NASCAR president Mike Helton was once the track's general manager. Ed Clark is the current President and CEO of the track.
In late 2015 Atlanta Motor Speedway announced that they would install SAFER barrier around the whole of the outside and large portions of the inside around the track.
After 20 years, the track will undergo its first repave following the 2018 race weekend. This marks the first time the track has been repaved since it was reconfigured in 1997 from an oval to a quad-oval. For the past couple of years, the abrasive surface had to have its seams sealed to preserve the integrity of the track, though for the last few dirt was coming up from the track.
In early September 2004, Atlanta Motor Speedway found another use: it became a shelter for evacuees from Florida fleeing Hurricane Frances. While there were no indoor facilities available, visitors waited out the extremely slow-moving storm parked in their recreational vehicles, after creeping along for hours in traffic on nearby Interstate 75. In 2005, the speedway received heavy damage on the evening of July 6, caused by an F2 tornado spawned from the remains of Hurricane Cindy. Roofs and facades were torn off buildings and the scoring pylon was toppled. In 2005 practices began to extend in to Friday night, and shortly afterwards both Cup races began featuring night qualifying. In 2006, the Bass Pro Shops 500 start time was adjusted to guarantee a night finish.
The opening scenes of the 1980 movie Smokey and the Bandit II were filmed at the track, as were scenes of the 1983 film Stroker Ace; a 40th anniversary stunt show to commemorate the 1977 filming of the original Smokey and the Bandit in nearby Jonesboro, Georgia, was held at AMS in 2017 and attended by Burt Reynolds. The track was featured in the 1982 Kenny Rogers movie Six Pack. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once worked as a ticket taker at the track, and attended several races there as Georgia governor and as U.S. President.
The track was used as a filming location for the 2017 heist comedy film Logan Lucky as a stand-in for Charlotte Motor Speedway for some scenes. The outside barriers were repainted yellow to resemble those of the Charlotte track.
|Qualifying||March 8, 1997||Robby Gordon||29.378||186.507 mph (300.154 km/h)|
|Race||November 12, 1995||Dale Earnhardt||3:03:03||163.633 mph (263.342 km/h)|
|Qualifying||April 16, 1983||Rick Mears||26.732||204.963 mph (329.856 km/h)|
|Race||September 30, 1979||Rick Mears||0:50:09||182.094 mph (293.052 km/h)|
|Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series|
|Qualifying||November 15, 1997||Geoffrey Bodine||28.074||197.478 mph (317.810 km/h)|
|Race||March 14, 2004||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||1:09:15||158.679 mph (255.369 km/h)|
|NASCAR Xfinity Series|
|Qualifying||October 25, 2003||Greg Biffle||28.830||192.300 mph (309.477 km/h)|
|Race||February 28, 2015||Kevin Harvick||1:40:32||149.813 mph (241.101 km/h)|
|NASCAR Camping World Truck Series|
|Qualifying||March 17, 2005||Rick Crawford||30.339||182.735 mph (294.083 km/h)|
|Race||March 18, 2005||Ron Hornaday||1:27:35||142.424 mph (229.209 km/h)|
|Qualifying||August 28, 1998||Billy Boat||24.734||224.145 mph (360.726 km/h)|
|Race||July 15, 2000||Greg Ray||2:02:01||153.403 mph (246.878 km/h)|
(As of 2/28/16)
|Most Wins||9||Dale Earnhardt|
|Most Top 5s||26||Dale Earnhardt|
|Most Top 10s||33||Richard Petty|
|Poles||7||Buddy Baker, Ryan Newman|
|Most Laps Completed||17513||Richard Petty|
|Most Laps Led||3283||Cale Yarborough|
|Avg. Start*||4.1||Fred Lorenzen|
|Avg. Finish*||9.5||Dale Earnhardt|
* from minimum 10 starts.