While NASCAR is a sport that features drivers racing as fast as they can, some tracks are slower than others. Since some venues pale in average speed when compared to the rest, you may wonder what the slowest NASCAR tracks are.
The 5 slowest NASCAR tracks are:
- Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
- Bristol Motor Speedway (Dirt Race)
- Martinsville Speedway
- Richmond Raceway
- Bristol Motor Speedway (Night Race)
Below, we will take a closer look at each of these tracks to discover why they’re slower than the rest. NASCAR has raced at other even slower tracks in the past, and we will explore them as well, and then we’ll finish by talking about NASCAR’s slowest road course.
What Is The Slowest Track In NASCAR?
The slowest track in NASCAR is the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, while the slowest track that hosts a points-paying race is Bristol, for the dirt race. The LA Coliseum is the slowest both in terms of pole speeds (about 65 mph/105 kph) and average race speeds (29 mph/47 kph).
The LA Coliseum
The average speed at the inaugural Clash at the Coliseum was just 29 mph (47 kph), slower than the speeds at the Bristol Dirt Race. Further, the pole speed sat at just 65 mph (105 kph), which is by far the slowest in NASCAR. The only track with a pole speed that comes even remotely close is Martinsville, which was 96 mph (155 kph) in 2022.
NOTE: The Bristol dirt race doesn’t use traditional qualifying, and instead uses heat races, so there is no pole speed metric for this event
If you are counting the slowest track holding points-paying races in terms of overall pole speeds and average race speeds, the honor goes to Martinsville, with an average pole speed of 97 mph (156 kph) and an average race speed of 75 mph (121 kph).
Bristol Motor Speedway
Since the Bristol Dirt Race runs at substantially lower speeds than the two Martinsville events, you could count Bristol as the slowest track, but only during the dirt race. When they race at Bristol on its regular cement surface, it still has fairly slow speeds (for NASCAR), but its high banking makes it a much faster track than Martinsville.
NOTE: We took the last 5 available years of pole speeds and the associated average race speeds from those years to determine the order for our list
The 5 Slowest NASCAR Tracks
1. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Average Pole Speed: 65 mph / 105 kph | Average Race Speed: 29 mph / 47 kph | Track Type: Short Oval | Track Length: 0.25 miles / 0.4 km
Counting every race on the NASCAR schedule, exhibition or points-paying, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is the slowest track. One reason drivers can’t pick up a lot of speed here is a result of its small size, as it’s just 0.25 miles long (4 km). This means the drivers are on the straights for a small amount of time before they must slow to turn.
Another reason for the ultra-slow speeds stems from the fact there’s minimal banking in the corners – it’s banked at just 2.5 degrees all the way round. When you watch the Clash, pay close attention to the turns, and you will see that this is the flattest oval in NASCAR, as well as the shortest.
2. Bristol Motor Speedway (Dirt Race)
Average Pole Speed: N/A (Heat Races Determine Starting Grid) | Average Race Speed: 35 mph / 56 kph | Track Type: Short Oval | Track Length: 0.533 miles / 0.85 km
The Bristol Dirt Race has the second slowest speeds in NASCAR today, thanks to the dirt providing a unique challenge for drivers. This race requires a different strategy, and it starts with the fact that they use grooved tires here instead of slicks. Drivers must also change up their driving style for the dirt as well.
Drivers must ease off the throttle a lot more, and they can’t drive anywhere nearly as quickly in the turns, and this is what makes Bristol such a slow track when they run the dirt race.
3. Martinsville Speedway
Average Pole Speed: 97 mph / 156 kph | Average Race Speed: 75 mph / 121 kph | Track Type: | Short Oval | Track Length: 0.526 miles / 0.85 km
Martinsville’s narrow width, low banking, and short length are what make the speeds here so slow. When racing on their regular surfaces, this track pales in speed comparisons to Bristol Motor Speedway, despite the two being similar in size. Bristol’s steep banking is the main reason you see much faster speeds there than at Martinsville.
Even with Martinsville’s status as one of the slowest tracks overall to hold points-paying events, don’t expect the track to hold pedestrian racing! Like the Coliseum and the Bristol Dirt Race, Martinsville’s narrow turns and width are what makes racing here so exciting, even with slower speeds.
4. Richmond Raceway
Average Pole Speed: 122 mph / 197 kph | Average Race Speed: 89 mph / 143 kph | Track Type: Short Oval | Track Length: 0.75 miles / 1.2 km
Richmond has been a staple on the NASCAR circuit since 1953, and like other short tracks, it often gives us some of the slowest speeds. However, much like the tracks listed above, it has historically produced exciting racing. Like Martinsville, one reason speeds aren’t high here is the low banking, which sits at just 14 degrees.
Richmond is one-third larger than Bristol and Martinsville, which also explains why the speeds here are substantially faster than those at Martinsville. Because of Bristol’s high banking, its speeds rival Richmond’s in terms of average race speed.
5. Bristol Motor Speedway (Night Race)
Average Pole Speed: 129 mph / 208 kph | Average Race Speed: 89 mph / 143 kph | Track Type: Short Oval | Track Length: 0.533 miles / 0.85 km
At 24 degrees of banking, many consider the World’s Fastest Half-Mile a fast track, and they are not wrong. Bristol is much faster than the other short tracks on the circuit, and it even has steeper banking than many intermediate ovals. But when you account for race speeds, Bristol is still a slow track even when the cars aren’t racing on dirt, so it gets the fifth place ranking on this list.
Other Slow Tracks NASCAR Has Raced On
Shorter tracks often lead to lower speeds, and the shortest track in NASCAR history was known for speeds that weren’t far above the Bristol Dirt Race. Islip Speedway was just 0.2 miles (0.32 km) in length, and the average race speed sat between 42 mph (68 kph) and 50 mph (81 kph). The fastest pole speed occurred in 1966, at just 56 mph (90 kph).
During its time hosting points-paying races, North Wilkesboro was one of NASCAR’s most popular tracks. With little banking and being just 0.625 miles (1 km) in length, it was also one of the slowest tracks.
During its final seasons on the NASCAR circuit before it returned for 2023, North Wilkesboro’s average pole speeds were 118 mph (190 kph), and the average race speeds were around 98 mph (158 kph). While the average race speeds were faster than what you saw at Bristol at the time, North Wilkesboro’s pole speeds were substantially slower.
Bowman-Gray Stadium was one of a few stadiums that hosted NASCAR events, and its speeds never reached higher than 52 mph (84 kph), making it one of the slowest tracks of its day between 1958 and 1971.
Like the LA Coliseum, it was a small, 0.25 mile (0.4 km) short track, and while the average race speeds weren’t the slowest here, the pole speeds were some of the slowest ever recorded. -Gray Stadium never saw a qualifying speed higher than 56 mph (90 kph).
California State Fairgrounds
This track is eye-catching because, despite short tracks dominating the NASCAR landscape in the 1950s and early 1960s, the California State Fairgrounds sat at 1 mile (1.6 km) long, yet its average race speed was ultra-slow, even for the 1950s. While they hit 74 mph (119 kph) in 1956, they never reached such speeds again over the five subsequent events here.
The top pole speed sat at 79 mph (127 kph) during the final event held at the track in 1961. For a track that’s a mile long, these are pedestrian speeds.
Central City Speedway
This was a 0.5 mile (0.8 km) track that held 7 NASCAR events. It was home to slow speeds, with the fastest recorded pole position of just 61 mph (98 kph) occurring in 1953. As for the fastest average race speed, it occurred at another event that same season, reaching 56 mph (90 kph).
The Slowest Road Course In NASCAR
Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is the slowest road course in NASCAR. One reason the speeds are so slow here comes from the track’s 20 turns, the highest number on the NASCAR schedule. Drivers spend less time pressing the throttle pedal here than on many other tracks.
For example, turns 6, 7, 8, and 9 are stacked so close to one another that drivers are braking and shifting gears constantly to get through them. Turns 1 and 11 are some of the narrowest on the NASCAR schedule.
Road Courses Are Usually Slower
Road courses are generally slower tracks in NASCAR because they have so many twists and turns. Most road courses have narrow bends, which force slower speeds in qualifying and in the races themselves, as cars can’t race 5-wide into most of them like they might at wider ovals.
COTA is also one of the newest road courses added to the NASCAR calendar, so many drivers are not very familiar with the track. This is yet another reason you won’t see super-fast speeds here. Weather also plays a major factor both at COTA and other road courses, since these are the only tracks where NASCAR will race in the rain.
Such a situation occurred here in 2021, which forced the average race speed to be just 59 mph (95 kph). These are slower speeds than some of the tracks we have listed above, although in the dry the average race speeds may be above 70 mph (113 kph).
The short tracks are the slowest tracks in NASCAR because the shorter straights mean drivers can’t reach as high speeds as they can on longer ovals. The slowest track overall is the Los Angeles Coliseum, given its small size and lack of banking. The Bristol Dirt race is the slowest points-paying event.
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