CONCORD, N.C. — Early this year, we were fortunate to visit a pair of race tracks we’d never been to.
The two tracks are drastically different. One is a massive facility, so big you’d never be able to cover it on foot in a single day. The other is a small, more personal track that carries with it a certain charm larger venues lack.
In early February, we traveled down the East Coast to Daytona Beach, Fla., to visit Daytona Int’l Speedway. Despite having been a member of the motorsports press for roughly 10 years, our schedule had never allowed for a trip to Daytona until this year.
Our first view of the track came from the airplane as it landed in Daytona Beach. We knew the track was huge — it is a 2.5-mile superspeedway after all — but seeing it in person put it in a different perspective.
Once we finally got inside, the scope of the facility was immediately clear. There was not a single position from the infield where we could see the entire track. In fact, in most instances we could only see a small portion of the track.
With that said, Daytona Int’l Speedway certainly lived up to the hype. They don’t call it The World Center of Racing for nothing. Standing on pit road and looking up at the grandstands during practice for the ARCA Menards Series opener reminded us of the history of the track, the people who have raced there and how important the track is to the motorsports industry.
At one point, we decided to take a walk to nowhere in particular. We wanted to make our way around the interior of the track and see as much as we could. We ended up walking to Lake Lloyd, the lake inside Daytona Int’l Speedway, where we watched as Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars practiced for the Advance Auto Parts Clash.
Where else can you stand on a pier at a lake and watch as the world’s best stock car drivers prepare to compete at one of the world’s most legendary race tracks? We’d certainly recommend taking in at least a portion of practice or a race from the pier at Lake Lloyd, it’s a breathtaking experience.
A few weeks later, an opportunity presented itself to travel to Tennessee for the 15th annual Tuckasee Toilet Bowl Classic at Clarksville Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt track.
The event — featuring more than half a dozen divisions and headlined by the super late model class — has grown in stature through the years based mostly on the name of the event. Let’s be honest, a race called the Toilet Bowl is bound to attract some attention.
The track is vastly different from Daytona Int’l Speedway, but that’s not a surprise. It’s situated near a community in the town of Clarksville, Tenn., and also features an eighth-mile drag strip.
There’s no lake at Clarksville Speedway, but there is plenty of Tennessee red clay. From the outside, the facility may seem out of date and lackluster, but track owner William Scogin has put in a lot of effort to upgrade the grounds.
The most recent addition is a new concession and suite building that is adjacent to the track. On the lower floor, there is one of the nicest concession stands we’ve seen at a dirt track, as well as some of the cleanest restrooms at any local short track.
Upstairs in the same building are suites, where fans or sponsors can enjoy the racing in air conditioned rooms away from the dirt, grime and dusty conditions typically found a dirt track.
The grandstands are well built and there are plenty of places to watch the racing action from, even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a suite seat.
Most importantly, the racing was fantastic. The Friday night super late model feature was a torrid affair among eventual race winner Brian Shirley, Allen Weisser and Robby Moses that saw all three take turns leading the 30-lap feature.
Saturday’s 40-lap super late model finale wasn’t nearly as exciting, but it was still intriguing as David Seibers fended off Shirley to earn the $5,000 top prize and the trophy toilet that goes to the winner of the Toilet Bowl.
Daytona Int’l Speedway and Clarksville Speedway are very different, but each has its own unique charm. From Lake Lloyd inside Daytona Int’l Speedway to the red clay at Clarksville Speedway, both have characteristics that make them stand out..
Whether you’re a dirt-track die-hard or a lifelong NASCAR fan, we feel pretty confident you’ll find something to enjoy at one — or perhaps both — tracks.