Day Trips: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth

Public tours go behind the scenes for insights into race day excitement

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Texas Motor Speedway tours put you in the winner's circle. If you're lucky, the hourlong van excursion includes a lap around the 1.5 mile track.

You don't have to be a NASCAR fan to enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at the giant speedway. But if you're not a fan, be prepared to field the question of who's your favorite driver from others on the tour.

As soon as it opened in 1997, the track north of Fort Worth became a recognizable backdrop on the televised racing circuit. In person, the track is colossal. With seating for more than 181,000, the grandstand is 10 stories high. Standing in the pit area at the finish line, the empty seats stare back with a big toothy grin.

The tour guide drove our group around the infield, entertaining us with stories and fun facts. For instance, the world's largest HDTV, nicknamed Big Hoss, faces the stands with a surface area of half an acre and broadcasts the races in real time. It's also used to show movies on movie night.

The track hosts only seven major professional races annually, but holds multiple events during the year. There is a driving school that offers laps with a professional driver or on your own. There's drag racing on Friday nights during June and July. And during the summer a series with youths driving cars powered by motorcycle engines races on the track. Some events are free.

Texas Motor Speedway is north of Fort Worth at I-35W and TX-114. The tours start from the gift shop and are offered daily. Reservations for the $10 sightseeing are suggested by calling 888/816-8671.

1,349th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 40312, South Austin, TX 78704.

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Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, race track

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