COCA COLA 600 RACE EXPERIENCE
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
First Run: June 19, 1960
Previous Names: World 600
The Coca Cola 600 is one of the highlights of the spring NASCAR lineup, and its history dates back to 1959 and the golden age of stock car racing. NASCAR hoped to create an event that would take place each Memorial Day weekend to compete against the hyper-popular Indianapolis 500, but it wasn't until 1974 that the events went head-to-head on the same day. The first race was held in 1960, and was known as the World 600 until 1985, when Coca Cola took over the sponsorship rights of the race. The event is held each year at Charlotte International Speedway and is the longest race on the NASCAR calendar that runs for 400 laps for a total distance of 600 miles.
Since its inception, the Coca Cola 600 has been held at the fabled Charlotte International Speedway, which was designed and built in 1959 by famed NASCAR promoter O. Bruton Smith. Construction was completed on the 1.5-mile superspeedway in early 1960, and in June of that year, the first World 600 took place on the new track. Over the years, the caretakers did their part to improve the overall spectator experience. Thousands of luxury boxes and grandstand seats were built to improve sight lines and accommodate many attendees, as well as a wealth of concessions and bathroom facilities. Another unique feature of the Charlotte Motor Speedway is that it is the only sports facility in America to offer year-round living accommodations. In 1984, 40 condominiums were built above turn one and another 12 were built in the following years that could appeal to only the most hardcore racing fans.
The fan experience has improved by leaps and bounds from the early years of the Coca Cola 600. In addition to the great experience that spectators will have in the stands, attendees can also apply for space in the center of the track to accommodate their campers or RVs, and there are a wealth of pre-race events where fans can get autographs, meet and greet with their favorite drivers and check out the many vendors that descend upon Charlotte Motor Speedway for race day. The track is also known for its stunning HD video board, which is 80 feet high, 200 feet long and is the largest HD video screen in the world.
Of course, when the green flag flies, most spectators will be concerned with the action on the track during NASCAR's most grueling endurance race. In recent years, Kasey Kahne has had immense success at the Coca Cola 600, becoming one of seven three-time winners after capturing the checkered flag during the 2006, 2008 and 2012 races. The all-time record goes to Darrell Waltrip, who won the race five times over the course of the late 1970s and mid-1980s. In the extremely competitive race for points toward the Sprint Cup, the Coca Cola 600 is a huge event for NASCAR that has a little bit of everything for race fans to enjoy.