Racing Across AmericaAbout 20 miles or so from Race City U.S.A. and literally just down the street from Lowe's Motor Speedway sits a unique half-mile asphalt tri-oval known as Concord Motorsports Park. Located on the outskirts of Concord, N.C., CMP is home to some exciting racing for just about any kind of race car you can imagine. Not only has it been the stomping grounds for quite a few top NASCAR drivers, it is a great training camp for many of the future stars of racing's top series.
Original owner Henry Furr operated this track, as well as Metrolina Speedway, for many years before Concord Motorsports Park came to life in 1982.
"The track was originally opened by Furr as a four-tenths-mile dirt track," says Larry Thomas, public relations director. "When the first Concord Speedway went the way of the housing development, Furr decided to buy this particular piece of property and opened it up as a four-tenths-mile dirt track in 1982."
Show up today and you are not likely to find Furr's original track. Over the years it has gone through several redevelopments. Around 1984 Furr paved over the dirt and eventually changed the name from Concord Motor Speedway to its current name of Concord Motorsports Park. During this same period of time, Legends cars became popular. What was originally built as a one-fifth-mile dirt go-kart track turned into a quarter-mile asphalt track for the Legends, and now Bandolero, racers.
"When that project was completed, Henry decided he wanted a half-mile track," explains Thomas. "He extended the backstretch out into a triangular shape that was determined more by the property line than anything else. He wound up with our current configuration and what is referred to as the 'World's Fastest Half-Mile Tri-Oval.'"
Concord Motorsports Park has been host to just about anything on wheels. Dirt stock cars were the first type of car to race at CMP. However, over the years these cars evolved into a kind of "Concord dirt-track vehicle." Racers were basically taking it upon themselves to decide what type of cars to run and writing their own rulebooks. Furr eventually had to pull in the reins due to the radical cars showing up. Mid-engined cars were not out of the norm at this time. Shortly after, the NASCAR Late Model stock cars started racing at CMP.
"Over the years Henry developed several classes of cars, primarily four-cylinders and production street V-8 types," Thomas says. "He also ran two divisions of cars that were purpose built race cars-the Late Model stock cars and the Late Model Sportsman, which was an offset-chassis car."
Around the late '90s, after the Laton family took over the track, the offset chassis car was replaced by the NASCAR Late Model as the feature class. Today CMP runs four divisions every Saturday night from late March through the beginning of November. The Latons also brought the popularity and growing interest of the Pro Truck Series, a metric chassis truck, to the track. Other divisions include the production-based V-8 Limited Stocks and the four-cylinder, two-door, rear-wheel-drive Mini Stocks.
And purely for fun, Concord Motorsports Park features the X-Carz. This is a novelty division, which normally runs after the feature. The original concept of the X-Carz was to take Lincoln Town Cars and Cadillac Sedan DeVilles, install some safety modifications and race them in novelty events.
"These are basically Street Stock automobiles that are not competitive, so we try to do things that make them so, such as second-over-the-line-wins races. Those are a zoo," says Thomas.