BANK OF AMERICA 500 RACE EXPERIENCE
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
First Run: October 19, 1960
Previous Names: National 400, National 500, Miller High Life 500, Mello Yello 500
The Bank of America 500 is one of the longest-running races in NASCAR history and has been known by an abundance of names over the years. The event began in 1960 and was called the National 400 until 1965, and in 1966 the race expanded to its current format of 501 miles. The race would change sponsors myriad times over the years, but Bank of America took over the rights to the race in 2006. The race has been held annually at Charlotte Motor Speedway and has traditionally been run at the end of the NASCAR season in the month of October. With NASCAR's current points structure and rankings system, this puts the Bank of America 500 squarely in the middle of the Chase for the Sprint Cup and could make or break a driver's championship hopes by the end of its blistering 334 laps.
The Bank of America 500 has been run annually at what many call the Mecca of motorsports, Charlotte International Speedway. The track 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 was run on the new track. The track has adapted with the times and now offers a bevy of amenities to enhance the 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, a total of 40 condominiums were built above turn one and another 12 were built in the following years that are certainly prime real estate for major NASCAR fans!
The fan experience has improved by leaps and bounds from the early years of the Bank of America 500. 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 is 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.
The Bank of America 500 has been renowned for its competitive nature, which is evidenced by the fact that four drivers, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson, are tied for the all-time lead in wins with three each. More than half a dozen other drivers have won the race two times each and the race has seen a new driver in the winner's circle each year since 2006. It's no wonder why race fans can't wait for the Bank of America 500 each year to see how the event's vital position on the NASCAR schedule can revitalize or dash their favorite driver's quest for a championship.