This month, we will take a look at the motorsports industry from a race track perspective.

Each week fans travel to tracks to watch all forms of racing. These venues serve as the gathering place for both camaraderie and competition.

The majority of racing takes place on the grassroots level. Millions cheer their favorite drivers and teams in their quest for taking the checkered flag to victory lane.

Racing occurs at oval tracks, drag strips and road courses on dirt or paved surfaces. These tracks are located coast to coast many in rural areas or on county fairgrounds.

Many early facilities had short life expectancies, as they were crude venues in farmers’ fields, or a carved-out oval or road course or drag strip on an airport runway.

New information about active and closed tracks is updated and researched on social media by groups like TrackChasers and SuperFans.

The exact count of tracks is difficult to determine, but famed racing historian Allan E. Brown details many in his book – The History of America’s Speedways – Past and Present. The number of race tracks thru the years is over 9,000.

The total number of tracks varies from decade to decade. It reflected the popularity of the racing era, barnstorming, board tracks, midgets, jalopy and stocks cars.

The peak of racing venues was the 1950’s. There were over 2,000 oval tracks in operation. This reflected the post-war boom, rising popularity of stock car racing and participation of number domestic manufacturers.

The oil crisis of the 1970’s affected the muscle car era and the oval track count declined to around 1,300. It leveled out at this level for next few decades with the technology advances in open-wheel racing.

Each year, there are market corrections in operating facilities. It is more of a slow steady trickle then a deluge.

Historically, there have been about 10 to 20 new tracks built each year on a similar amount closing or into hiatus, leaving the total number somewhat stable. That trend has changed as more oval tracks are closing then opening last then are being built. There has been limited growth of new permanent road courses constructed as they meet demand for track time.

There ongoing balance of supply and demand, is affected by declining attendance and car counts, rising cost of racing, competition for the entertainment dollar.

The investment in and construction activity at motorsports facilities is noteworthy. Many tracks are constantly renovating or repurposing seating areas. This reflects the importance of extending the Motorsports Fairness and Permanency Act legislation.

Many dormant venues are being redeveloped for residential and commercial properties as the land values rise for other uses.

According the National Speedway Directory – 2019 Edition, there are about 1,240 facilities in the United States and Canada. This includes oval tracks – dirt and paved – (65%), drag strips (23%) and road courses (12%).

The state with the most tracks is California at 73. It is followed by Texas, Iowa, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Racing occurs coast to coast and will continue well into the future. It important for race fans to get out to a race and support their local tracks.

NSD – 2019 – Track Survey

Country Total Tracks Oval Tracks – (Dirt / Paved) Drag Strips Road Courses
US 1,226 815 – (Dirt – 610 / Paved – 205) 268 143
Canada 131 71 – (Dirt – 30 / Paved – 41) 43 17
Total 1,357 886 – (Dirt – 640 / Paved – 246) 311 160

Source: National Speedway Directory