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Big Bill’s Banking Idea

Back in the early 1950s, when Bill France Sr. was designing his new superspeedway to be built in Daytona Beach, Florida, he hoped to give spectators the ultimate race track experience. He felt that a curved front stretch would be best for viewing with the cars coming toward the crowd from Turn 4 and passing by them on their way to Turn 1. It was “panorama” view of the race. With the track being 2.5 miles in length, flat turns would cause the cars to virtually disappear in the distance. France thought back to the late 1920s when he was a young boy and his visits to the large board speedway located in Laurel, Maryland. Board tracks were made from 2×4 pine laid on edge and were all the rage in those days with lengths from ½ mile to 2 miles and extremely high banking in the turns. The track in Laurel was 1.25 miles in length with the turns banked at an astounding 48 degrees. This led to tight racing and a lot of action. The cars could easily be seen from anywhere around the track as they were racing on the high-banks several stories above ground level. There were no bad seats in the place.

France incorporated the idea of those early high banks into his new speedway. Daytona Int. Speedway has a more reasonable 31 degree banking and each seat offers spectators a full view of the action. With the birth of France’s speedway in 1959, high banking became the standard for nearly every major track built since then.

Which race track is your favorite? Are you more a superspeedway or dirt track fan?


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