Do Nascar Races Happen at Night?


Do Nascar Races Happen at Night

When you consider how fast and hot the cars run on any given NASCAR track, it stands to reason that they must – logically – run a little cooler at night. During the day, they have the heat from the sun in addition to the heat from those monster engines. Then again, racing at night is surely far too dangerous to attempt. Or is it?

NASCAR races do happen at night, with eight from 41 races (20%) in 2022 being run under lights. The atmosphere is completely different, with cooler temperatures influencing team tactics and driving styles. Fans are offered a new perspective, and the action guarantees night racing its own set of fans.

NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing) attracts fans from all over the world and some of the finest. Fans of night racing seem to be a breed of their own and will travel hundreds of miles and take an entire day off work to be able to see their favorite drivers and teams performing under or not under lights.

Why do People Enjoy Night NASCAR racing?

Ask ten fans, and you’ll get ten mumbled replies because no one really knows. It’s just a great vibe, sitting in the stands at your beloved turn or straightaway with your family and the roar of engines flying by. The smell of high-octane fuel in your nostrils and those ‘gourmet’ burgers in your hands – oh man!

If you ask fans to think about the question, they might cite previous experience racing or supporting a driver at the grassroots level way back in time and the thrill of traveling to these races that covered almost all of the US. Watching NASCAR night races seems to focus one’s perception and concentration somehow: There’s just you and the track.

All you can see at night is the part under lights, so there are no planes overhead or traffic nearby to catch your attention. Just the pure excitement of NASCAR and night racing is ‘plenty excitin’, as they say. This applies to TV viewing also, but honestly, there is a world of fun separating TV and live viewing of a night race.

Does Night racing Attract more NASCAR fans?

We tend to blame COVID-19 for much of the world’s problems (and it deserves much of the criticism), but attendance at NASCAR events has been down for five years at least. Why not place more tracks under lights then, in a concerted effort to draw more people through the turnstiles?

However, the benefit of having more time to get to the (night) race is offset by the inconvenience of having to travel home late at night or swallow the added expense of sleeping over. The jury is still out regarding children, as one opinion is that it is detrimental to child spectators, while another camp feels it is more of an adventure for the kids to watch NASCAR at night.

Unfortunately, the TV cameras miss very little, and large swathes of empty seating do not herald a rosy dawn for the sport. Even the colosseum of Bristol Motor Speedway has been affected, and this firm short-track favorite is often held up as a benchmark concerning the health of NASCAR.

Would more night races improve the situation perceptibly? Night racing is not a new concept, having been first tried in 1992 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where it was very well received. Perhaps much of the plaudits were due to how the race finished: Kyle Petty took no prisoners and removed Dale Earnhardt on one of the corners on the last lap but was still pipped at the post.

Davey Allison and Petty had the crowd enthralled as they crashed one another across the start/finish line, but despite a broken collarbone, Allison took home the winnings. Night racing was on the map! It caught the attention of the American racing public, and racetrack owners started racing one another to see who could get their track lit first.

It also allows people to attend after work and to make an evening of it. The issue as highlighted above is what happens if the race is caution heavy and that evening out starts to turn into an early morning. This has happened on occasions with races not being completed till after midnight.

Do Nascar Races Happen at Night

Where Are The NASCAR Night Races In 2022?

In 2022, the Bluegreen Vacations Duels 1&2 are both run at night at the Daytona International Speedway. Still, interestingly, they are both short races (150 miles/60 laps), giving spectators plenty of time to get home at a reasonable hour. Run on the same night, the first duel is at 7 pm and the second two hours later. They are the qualifying rounds for the Daytona 500 on the 20th February.

Martinsville Speedway is the next to offer night racing, with the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 over 210 miles or 400 laps starting at 7.30 pm and giving race-goers a full menu. Not to be outdone, the Food City Dirt Race is held at Bristol Motor Speedway a week later, starting at 6 pm local time. On dirt, the race is 125 miles / 250 laps in length.

This is particularly exciting because it heralds a real shift in the thinking of the sanctioning body that sees Easter Sunday racing at NASCAR for the first time in years – and on dirt at that! 1989 saw the previous Easter Sunday race, and Bristol will be hosting the first Easter race in 33 years. The fans are even more pleased.

Bristol trucked in tons of dirt in 2021 to cover the concrete surface, and the experiment will continue in 2022. Long live the free spirit of the US.

Texas Motor Speedway is next, with the short, 75 mile / 50 lap NASCAR All-Star Open. The race starts at 7 pm, and this track always offers a great spectacle. Not to be outdone, the Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts the Coca-Cola 600 from 6 pm and is another race not to be missed.

As you can see, there are a good number of night races, but some of the fans’ favorite tracks are not taking the night route. After Charlotte, there is a long wait until late August for a night race, when the Coke Zero Sugar 400 takes us back to Daytona for the 400 mile / 160 lap race.

Once we reach the Playoffs/Round of 16, Darlington is back in play for the ‘Night Owls,’ hosting the 501 mile / 367 lap Southern 500 from 6 pm ET. The Bass Pro Shops Night Race is at Bristol from 7.30, 13 days later. Which wraps up the scheduled night racing for 2022

There is also the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on February the 6th, which we have included in the table below but not in the descriptions above.

Table of NASCAR Night Races in 2022.

DateNASCAR Night RaceTrackStart time
February 6th, 2022Busch Light Clash at The ColiseumLos Angeles Coliseum6pm (ET)
February 17th, 2022Bluegreen Vacations Duels 1&2Daytona International Speedway7 and 9 pm (ET)
April 9th, 2022Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 40Martinsville Speedway7.30pm (ET)
April 17th, 2022 Food City Dirt RaceBristol Motor Speedway (dirt)7pm (ET)
May 22nd, 2022NASCAR All-Star Open / RaceTexas Motor Speedway8pm (ET)
May 29th, 2022Coca-Cola 600Charlotte Motor Speedway6pm (ET)
August 27th, 2022Coke Zero Sugar 400Daytona International Speedway7pm (ET)
September 4th, 2022Southern 500Darlington Raceway6pm (ET)
September 17th, 2022Bass Pro Shops Night RaceBristol Motor Speedway6.30pm (ET)

From Bristol, it is day racing all the way through to October, so of the 41 races between February and October 2022, only eight are run at night. Hey, maybe that makes them all the more special, and a true NASCAR fan will be watching almost every race anyway, but it would be nice to have maybe a couple more, purely from a fan’s point of view.

Which NASCAR Tracks Have Lighting?

If you go back through the history of nascar night racing, and we did when researching this article, you will see the same Tracks being used each season to run night races. this is not out of favouritism or anything like that. Some tracks simple dont have the ability to run a NASCAR night race as they lack lights. those headlights on the cars are not real, and the race would be real short if they tried to run at Talladega for example.

We have the NASCAR tracksOpens in a new tab. below that have and don’t have lights for your reference.

Table of NASCAR Race Tracks with and without Lighting for Night Racing.

NASCAR Tracks with LightingNASCAR Tracks Without Lighting
Atlanta Motor SpeedwayCircuit of the Americas
Auto Club SpeedwayDover Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor SpeedwayIndianapolis Road
Charlotte Motor SpeedwayMichigan International Speedway
Darlington RacewayMid Ohio Sports car course
Daytona International SpeedwayNew Hampshire Motor Speedway
Homestead – Miami SpeedwayPocono Raceway
Kansas SpeedwayPortland International Raceway
Knoxville RacewayRoad America
Las Vegas Motor SpeedwaySonoma Raceway
Los Angeles ColiseumTalladega Superspeedway
Lucas Oil Raceway ParkWatkins Glen International
Martinsville Speedway
Nashville Superspeedway
Richmond Raceway
Phoenix Raceway
Texas Motor Speedway
World Wide Technology Raceway

So even though the majority of NASCAR race tracks do have lighting, there are still plenty, including popular circuits like Talladega, that don’t have lighting. Obviously this makes it impossible to run races at night on them!

Conclusion

Night racing is incredibly peaceful yet massively exciting to watch and a wonderful event to enjoy with your loved ones. In 2022 25% of races were held in the evening, and it looks like night racing is going to stay part of the schedule for years to come. We for one think the sport is better for it.

References

https://www.nascar.com/2021/bass-pro-shops-night-race/

https://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1402057-nascar-5-reasons-why-we-need-more-night-races

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