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There are two main things that are totally unique about the Homestead-Miami Speedway. First, the speedway gets to host the final race of the season each year for all three top NASCAR divisions. That’s a big deal and a major draw for ticket sales.
The three major races for Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Truck Series are Ford EcoBoost 400, Ford EcoBoost 300, and Ford EcoBoost 200, respectively. The annual event is aptly named Ford Championship Weekend
The second defining factor about the Homestead-Miami track is its amazingly versatile track configurations that allows for tons of different kinds of races. The complex even has a course dedicated to radio remote-control car racing and hosted the world championships in 2011.
Brad Keselowski currently holds the track record for fastest NASCAR lap. His qualifying lap in 2014 of 29.795 was the fastest the track has ever seen. And while Jeff Gordon has the most starts and most top-fives with seven, it’s Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart who are tied atop the all-time most wins list with three apiece.
This article will take a closer look at the history of the Homestead-Miami Speedway and how it became the world-class racing venue we now know and love. But first, let’s check out some fun fast facts that all race fans should know.
- Location: Homestead, Florida
- Project broke ground in 1993 and was completed in 1995.
- The steel cable used as barrier fencing to protect drivers and spectators is long enough to stretch from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale
- The track has 1005 palm trees on site comprised of 15 different varieties
- The venue has two tunnels which are both beneath sea level and wide enough to hold two tractor trailers side by side. The back tunnel is the southernmost tunnel in the continental United States
- The track has four lakes, one of which is more than 6 stories deep. It also has a tower that holds 1,000,000 gallons of water
- Owned by: International Speedway Corporation
- Track Types: 1.5 Mile (2.4km) oval, 2.3 Mile (3.7km) road course
- Oval turns: 4, banked 18-20 degrees progressive
- Straightaways: banked 3 degrees
- Race lap record: 0:29.795 Brad Keselowski, November 14, 2014 (Qualifying)
- Capacity: 46,000
- Major Races: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (EcoBoost 400), Xfinity Series (EcoBoost 300), and Truck Series (EcoBoost 200)
Homestead-Miami Speedway History
The Homestead-Miami Speedway story begins in 1992, on the heels of the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew. The track was built to help the city and its residents get back on their feet.
More than a quarter-century since the Hurricane, the speedway still puts a lot of emphasis on fundraising for the local South Florida community. One of the largest charities operating out of the track, which began on the 20 year anniversary of Hurricane Andrew in 2012, is their Drive For a Cause Foundation which raises funds for local education and youth development.
It is clear and inspiring to know that the main goals, aspirations, and ideals that were initially set forth at the onset of the development in 1993 are still active to this day and still making an impact on the local community.
Host to Top-Tier NASCAR Races
The speedway officially opened for business in 1995. Straight off the bat, the venue held Xfinity Series (then Busch Series) races at the end of the NASCAR calendar.
By 2002 both Cup Series and Truck Series racing at Homestead-Miami became the anchor leg of the annual schedule. With its Ford sponsorship, the season finale is dubbed the Ford Championship Weekend.
In 2009 the track actually hosted a total of five season-finale races. On top of the three NASCAR events, they also had the year-end events for IndyCar Series racing and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. These days the Grand-Am race is earlier in the year and the IndyCar event has been discontinued at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Initially, the track configuration was more rectangular than oval. This caused issues for drivers as passing became more difficult and overall speeds were lower compared to its NASCAR oval counterparts. Add to that an increased likelihood of dangerous crashes and it is no wonder the facility decided to reconfigure its course layout in 1996.
Just seven years later the course made changes again. This time the issue was banking. Track owners wanted to make the angles steeper to improve racing and viewing for the fans.
Finally, a state-of-the-art lighting system was added that allows races to be held at night.
Since that big initial overhaul Homestead-Miami Speedway has been known for intense competition and extremely tight finishes.
Tight Quarters and Fatal Crashes
The first few years of racing at the track were highly scrutinized for the flat and sharp turns which caused a lot of congestion on the aprons. The first round of alterations in 1996 attempted to fix the issue by making the aprons of the turns wider, in some cases by as much as 24 feet.
Even after the track made adjustments to its configuration in attempts to reduce pile-ups and dangerous collisions, there have been several unfortunate fatalities at the site.
Indy car driver Paul Dana collided in warmups with Ed Carpenter in 2006 and didn’t survive the impact. Previously, Grand-Am driver Jeff Clinton fatally crashed in 2002 and so did Truck Series driver John Nemechek in 1997.
A special seating area called the Champions Club Tower was constructed near the first turn that offers incredible views and exhilarating atmospheres for the lucky fans who can afford it.
Each of the 16 skyboxes can h1057old up to 32 people and includes all sorts of lavish amenities including access to five-star buffet, full bar, and dozens of plasma television sets. Members who use the Club Towers are also given pre-race track-access passes.
And the media are also well taken care of thanks to the completely revamped and refurbished Infield Media Center that was completed in 2008.
The massive 18,000 square-foot facility can accommodate more than 300 people over multiple floors with exceptional views and state of the art equipment with which to cover the proceedings.