Lowe's Motor Speedway is a 1.5 mile oval with a 2.25 mile infield road course, a 6/10ths mile kart track, a 1/4 mile asphalt oval in the infield, a 1/5 mile oval outside of turn 3, and 4/10 mile clay oval across the highway from the main track. The facility is located in Concord, NC, just north of Charlotte. The main oval has 24 degree banking and is used primarily for stock car racing; the infield road course is used by the SCCA and by various Karting organizations.
New: 1997-06-22 Last Updated: 2006-04-24
The 1.5 mile paved oval opened on June 19th, 1960. A 1/8 mile paved dragstrip operated from 1961 to 1970. 1.7 and 2.25 mile paved road courses operated from 1971 through 1992; the 2.25 mile course resumed operation in 1994. A 1/4 mile flat paved oval inside the big oval in front of the main grandstands opened in 1988. A 1/4 mile dirt oval outside of turn 3 operated from May 19th, 1991 through 1993 (this oval is still clear in the 1998 vintage B&W terra server image, but is mostly obscured in the terraserver urban areas view. A 1/4 mile paved oval was built next to the 1/4 mile dirt oval, opening in September 1993 (this may be called the Outback Speedway). A 4/10 mile dirt oval across the street from the big track opened May 25th, 2000 ("The Dirt Track At Lowe's Motor Speedway").
For many years, this facility was named "Charlotte Motor Speedway". The name was changed in February of 1999.
|Allan E. Brown, The History of America's Speedways: Past & Present. Comstock Park, Michigan: Brown, 2003 , ISBN 0931105617 , pp. 524. Order from National Speedway Directory|
Lowe's Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy S
Concord, NC 28027-4600
Lowe's Motor Speedway
PO Box 600
Concord, NC 28026-0600
704-455-3209 (Public Relations)
704-455-3203 (Sales and Marketing)
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Lowe's Motor Speedway is 12 miles north of Charlotte on US 29, in Concord, North Carolina.
Hot Lap of the road course courtesy of Chris W. Ingle, 2003 Southeast Division T1 National Champion, #7 T1 Corvette Z06. Track Tapes has a video of laps of this track as driven by Chris including some night laps under the lights.
Despite the possible high speeds and concrete walls, LMS is a relatively safe track. I've driven the track since 1990 and have never seen anyone hit the wall here. LMS holds a special place in my heart because it was the very first place I did a driving school and that got me hooked. The banking is 24 degrees and forces some serious G-loading on your car, tires and body. Because the high banks are only a quarter of a mile long, it is a real rush. The infield portion is fairly grippy and it does have some runoff room if you make a mistake. This is without a doubt, one of the fastest top speed tracks in the southeast and will test your bravery as you enter the bankings at well over 140 mph.
The amenities of LMS are what you'd expect from a track that hosts some of the best racing in motor sports -- professional garages, large paved paddock area, permanent admin buildings, great viewing/vantage spots, etc.)
Overall, LMS uses nearly 3/4 of the whole oval and adds a simple, infield section with a few twists and elevation changes to connect the two major bankings.
It helps to have a neutral to slightly loose (oversteering) car here. A car that understeers severely will find it very hard to go thru the high banks quickly. The infield stays fairly consistent throughout the weekend. Considering it doesn't get a whole lot of use except when the road racers show up, it can actually improve as more rubber gets laid down. It's an easy track to learn and fairly easy to master as well. It's also a good idea to use THINNER tires than you normally would, especially on the front. This is due to the ultra-high speeds and rolling resistance (air and friction) of wider tires. If you normally run 315s on the front, try using the 275s. Also, because of the banking and extreme loads exerted on the tires, try increasing the pressure a few pounds to keep the side walls from flexing too much.
All shift points and approximate speeds are relative to my T1 prepared 2001 Corvette Z06.
Leaving the pits, stay to the left as cars will be coming off the NASCAR portion on to the infield. There is no real 'merge' area so check your mirrors carefully. As you accelerate past turn 2, you should be on the left side of the track approaching 3, which is a 60 degree right-hand turn with a dip at the apex. Once past the apex, straighten the wheel out quickly to get maximum braking. Get as far to the left as possible for the 110 degree right hand turn 4. It's tight and banked so nail that apex.
After exiting 4, you'll now go down the short infield straight. You can either shift to 4th or just stay in 3d and run the rpms up. Check your mirrors and gauges. Turn 5 is a very fast right-hand kink. You can apex this corner earlier than you think because the exit of the corner is uphill and the 'banking' helps you. It also helps you brake so you'll find you can go thru the corner much faster than you thought. Track out wide and heel-toe downshift to 3d (if you went to 4th on the small straight) to get set up for the trickiest corner on the infield.
Turn 6 is a long, over-the-hilltop, right hand turn, not quite off camber and not quite blind, but it's still an unusual corner. It's easy to spin the wheels and get loose here so just be smooth and get back to the right as soon as possible.
As you come over and down the hill to get set up for turn 7, there is actually a little bit of banking in the corner at the start which will help the car turn.
This corner is one of the most important corners on the track because it leads to one of the longest straight-aways. Don't get too concerned about any of the apexes except the very last one that actually leads onto the banking. Ensure you use the entire track for the entrance of the corner though -- go as wide as possible before turning for the apex. You really want make this last corner as late of an apex as possible-never early. There is a severe transition from the infield course to the banking. If you early apex and hit the banking squarely, you can break suspension components and actually crack your windshield! Try to make the transition from the infield to the banking as smooth as possible. Stay low on the banking until the straight then move up toward the wall.
Shift to 4th, check your gauges and relax. Again, you can either stay in 4th down this long straight or shift to 5th.
The NASCAR banking is really tight-only 1/4 mile long and 24 degrees so the G forces really work on your body. You may want to think about moving your seat closer to the steering wheel to keep these forces at a minimum. Another useful driving tip is to remember to pull the steering wheel -- don't push it. When you pull the wheel, you'll use the big muscles in your side and arm as opposed to pushing it which uses much smaller muscles in your forearm and shoulders. Bigger muscles will get less tired over the session/day so you'll think clearer! Keep you head and eyes way up!!!!!
I enter the banking about 3/4 of the way up and gradually bring the car lower down the track until the exit. Remember to power thru the banking -- it keeps the suspension loaded and glued to the track.
As you exit the banking look way up and aim a straight line to the braking point. You should try to be as straight (parallel to the wall) as possible when you hit your braking point. Be conservative at first and slowly move your braking zone closer to the turn-in point. You'll most likely be doing 150+ mph. Don't be a hero here though if you can't get the car slowed down enough. If you don't think you can make the turn, just keep braking straight, punt a few cones and use that runoffs space (actual NASCAR track) to slow the car. Heel-toe downshift to 3d gear.
Turn 1 is wide, fast and bumpy. It's imperative you be under power coming through the turn. Use a conservative (late) turn-in and nail that apex. Track out as far to the wall as possible. You can experiment with earlier turn-ins until you get uncomfortable with your track-out spacing to the wall. You can also look for smoother lines thru there. Either way, ensure you're close to the wall for the turn in for 2. The more room you have on entrance means the straighter (and faster) turn 2 will be. It's only about a 45-degree turn with a bit of banking so you can rocket thru here much faster than it appears. Late apex it though and bring the car back to the left to get set up for 3.
Charlotte is a big-time horsepower and guts track. Keep your head and eyes up to minimize the sensation of speed and to give yourself more reaction time. Enjoy!
Chris W. Ingle www.tracktapes.com
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