Last week, I had a friend from out of state in town. Perhaps the most important activity on our list was a visit to Texas World Speedway, a monstrous two-mile oval practically in my childhood backyard. Upon pulling into the infield, she had no words.
It took us a couple of tries to catch an open gate into the infield tunnel, but I wouldn’t let her back on the plane for the trip home without getting a chance to see the speedway from the inside. The view of its humble exterior—a grassy hill that covers everything other than the top of the press box—just wouldn’t do.
Once we got into the track, she reacted as I expected. Just as I had, years and years ago. Her jaw dropped at the sight of such a large, empty facility echoing with the sound of a couple of Porsches running the interior road course.
She took in the massive, D-shaped oval, amazed at the drastic transitions in banking—how the eight degrees of the front stretch shoots into a 22-degree turn. She paced back and fourth, taking in the weathered track surface and grandstands and whispering to herself about “how amazing it would be to see a major-league race on this oval.”
That’s what TWS does to you. It makes you want to sit back and breathe in the history, because you can practically hear the echo of a crowd in the grandstands and a field of cars thundering out of that fourth turn to take the green flag.
But other than those two Porsches, TWS was eerily quiet upon this visit. We weren’t there to watch a major-league race like folks, including my mom, did decades ago—we were just there to admire it. To be awed by it. To wish we could’ve been around when that crowd was real, not just a whisper in the wind.
The track faces an uncertain future these days, which is actually a good thing. TWS prepared to close its gates for good last summer in preparation for a new subdivision, but some interested investors hope to find out in the spring of 2016 whether or not they will get to take control of the track. If they do, the interior road course will get a facelift and a few new support buildings.
And I hope it does get to stick around, for many years to come. For me, TWS is my favorite location to show visitors whenever they come to town. The history surrounding the track never fails to consume me, and it’s always an amazing experience to take a racing enthusiast out there for the first time.
With that, I want to know which places or objects make history wash over you. So, what’s the best piece of automotive or racing history you’ve had the chance to see? What was your reaction to the whole thing when you first made a visit?
Photo credit: Alanis King/Jalopnik
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