Short track, long game: America’s small-town speedways

Rumble turned to roar as the field on the speedway accelerated under a fluttering green flag. The night’s main event was underway: 25 cars, 25 laps, one winner. In the madness, promising young driver Carson Macedo surged ahead, and rival racers jockeyed for spots in his dirt wake. Sliding, snorting, mere inches apart, the pack poured into Knoxville Raceway’s first turn.

Just as in the old Billy Joel song, it was 9 o’clock on a Saturday and the regular crowd had shuffled in. While tonight’s grandstand-shaking rush of race cars felt novel to me, a similar scene had already played out many times over within the past two hours across the United States. There are an estimated 900 short tracks, dirt or paved ovals measuring less than a mile in length, operating throughout the country and featuring grassroots racing on a weekly cadence. On any given summer weekend, thousands of racers take the green flag… read more >

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