NASCAR venues continuing to help their communities


Between race weekends, NASCAR venues host a wide variety of events. But due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – and subsequent local/state measures to keep the virus in check – they had to get creative in order to keep serving their home regions.

They became sites for blood drives, COVID-19 testing, and food distribution to help those in need.

They hosted graduation ceremonies for thousands of local high school and college students, who, instead of walking across a stage, took a lap around the track in their cars on the way to receiving their diploma.

They also provided some respite from a tough year with socially distanced entertainment, including events like drive-thru Halloween celebrations, and drive-in concerts and movie nights.

This month, many of these venues will continue to host community events, including some helping local charities and organizations.

Bristol Motor Speedway

Now through Jan. 2 – Pinnacle Speedway in Lights powered by TVA

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Now through Jan. 17 (Closed for Christmas Day and other select nights for private events) – Speedway Christmas presented by Count on Me NC

This nearly four-mile course of lights features more than four million lights and takes vehicles onto the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval and “roval.”

Thursday-Sunday nights also include drive-in movies on the track’s big screen.

Now through Jan. 17 (Closed for Christmas Day) – The Rink at Speedway Christmas

New for 2020, this 5,400-square-foot outdoor ice rink features concessions and a DJ. The guest fee of $15/hour includes skate rentals.

Following COVID-19 practices, the number of skaters on the ice at any given time is limited, skates are sanitized after each use, and visitors are required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

Saturday, Dec. 19, 7 – 10 a.m. ET – Cars & Coffee

Car owners and enthusiasts show off their prized machines in this free monthly gathering.

Daytona International Speedway

Now through Jan. 2 – Magic of Lights

A portion of proceeds will benefit the AdventHealth Foundation in Volusia and Flagler counties.

Dover International Speedway

Wednesday, Dec. 16 – Food distribution event for local families in need

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dover International Speedway has partnered with the Food Bank of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Transportation to host food distribution events at the track.

Food Bank personnel, volunteers and track employees have helped load vehicles with foodstuffs for families in need. Since March, these monthly events have assisted 11,995 area households with more than 1 million pounds of food.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Now through Jan. 10 – Glittering Lights Las Vegas

Michigan International Speedway

Now through Dec. 31 – Nite Lites Christmas Lights display

Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET – 12th Annual MIS Cares Charity Track and Toy Drive

Fans who donate a non-perishable food item or a new, unwrapped toy will get to drive five laps around MIS’ 2-mile oval in their personal vehicles.

All food items will be donated to the St. Mary’s Good Counsel in Adrian, Michigan.

The toys will be donated to the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots in both Jackson and Lenawee counties.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Now through Jan. 3 – Gift of Lights presented by Eastern Propane & Oil

Sonoma Raceway

Ending Today – Virtual Food Drive

The track’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, which has taken place virtually since Nov. 2, comes to a close today.

Over the last five weeks, the track’s social media channels have highlighted food banks in the San Francisco Bay Area, and encouraged race fans and community members to donate online.

Since the drive’s inception in 2000, it has distributed more than 40 tons of food.

Now through Dec. 16 – 18th Annual Holiday Toy Drive

All toys collected during the drive will be distributed to youth-serving organizations in the Sonoma Valley, including the Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance.

New, unwrapped gifts, as well as gift cards for newborns to 12 year olds, are needed.

Friday-Sunday, Dec. 11-13 – Transcendence Theatre Company’s Broadway Holiday at the Drive-In at Sonoma Raceway

Transcendence Theatre Company, an award-winning theatre company based in Sonoma County, presents a collection of performances from the last five years of their annual Broadway Holiday Spectacular.

A portion of proceeds will go to the local chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities to help youth organizations in Sonoma County.

Texas Motor Speedway

Now through Jan. 3 – Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway

A portion of proceeds for this drive-thru display of 2.5-million lights goes to the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.

Thursday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. CT – Karting for SCC-Texas

A portion of all sales at on-site Lone Star Kartpark go to SCC-Texas. This event occurs on the second Thursday of each month.

Friday & Saturday, Dec. 11-12 – Texas Women’s University Drive-Thru Commencement

TWU graduates will make a lap around the 1.5-mile oval before stopping near the start/finish line. They will step out of their vehicles to receive diploma covers and later pose for photographs. Participants are allowed up to two carloads of families and friends.

This past spring, Texas Motor Speedway hosted over 30 local high school graduation ceremonies for nearly 14,000 students.

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. CT – American Red Cross Blood Drive

SCC-Texas is inviting the Red Cross to the Lone Star Condos Clubhouse, which has become a monthly event this year and will continue every other month in 2021. Residents are asked to donate blood or power reds to help the supply in North Texas. They can sign up at

Friday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m. CT – Drive-In Movie Night featuring “Elf”

Will Ferrell’s modern Christmas classic will be shown on the track’s Big Hoss screen. A portion of proceeds go to SCC-Texas and the CoServ Charitable Foundation.

Alex Bowman confident as he returns to racing from back injury


CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman watched the rain-filled skies over Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday with more than a touch of disappointment.

As weather threatened to cancel Saturday night’s scheduled NASCAR Cup Series practice at the speedway, Bowman saw his chances to testing his car — and his body — dissolving in the raindrops. NASCAR ultimately cancelled practice and qualifying because of rain.

MORE: Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup practice, qualifying

Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car accident last month and has missed three Cup races while he recovers. Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the season’s longest race, is scheduled to mark his return to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet.

“It would have been really nice to kickstart that with practice today,” Bowman said. “I haven’t raced or competitively driven a race car in a month. I’m trying to understand where my rusty areas are going to be and where I’m still good.”

Bowman ran 200 laps in a test season at North Wilkesboro Speedway this week, but, of course, that doesn’t compare with the faster speeds and tougher G-forces he’ll experience over 400 laps Sunday at CMS.

Bowman admitted that he is still experiencing pain from the back injury — his car flipped several times — and that he expects some pain during the race. But he said he is confident he’ll be OK and that the longer race distance won’t be an issue.

“I broke my back a month ago, and there’s definitely things that come along with that for a long time,” he said. “I have some discomfort here and there and there are things I do that don’t feel good. That’s just part of it. It’s stuff I’ll have to deal with. But, for the most part, I’m back to normal.

“I’m easing back into being in the gym. I’m trying to be smart with things. If I twist the wrong way, sometimes it hurts. In the race car at the end of a six-hour race, I’m probably not going to be the best.”

The sprint car crash interrupted what had been a fine seasonal start for Bowman. Although winless, he had three top fives and six top 10s in the first 10 races.

“I’m excited to be back,” Bowman said. “Hopefully, we can pick up where we left off and be strong right out of the gate.”

He said he hopes to return to short-track racing but not in the near future.

“Someday I want to get back in a sprint car or midget,” he said. “I felt like we were just getting rolling in a sprint car. That night we were pretty fast. Definitely a bummer there. That’s something I really want to conquer and be competitive at in the World of Outlaws or High Limits races. Somebody I’ll get back to that. It’s probably smart if I give my day job a little alone time for a bit.”




Charlotte NASCAR Cup Series starting lineup: Rain cancels qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — William Byron and Kevin Harvick will start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the front row after wet weather cancelled Saturday night qualifying.

Rain pelted the CMS area much of the day Saturday, and NASCAR announced at 3:45 p.m. that Cup practice and qualifying, scheduled for Saturday night, had been cancelled.

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

The starting field was set by the NASCAR rulebook.

Following Byron and Harvick in the starting top 10 will be Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The elimination of the practice session was particularly problematic for Alex Bowman, scheduled to return to racing Sunday after missing three weeks with a back injury, and Jimmie Johnson, who will be starting only his third race this year. Johnson will start 37th — last in the field.

Charlotte Cup starting lineup

Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup Series practice, qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR Cup Series drivers will start the longest race of the season with no practice or qualifying.

Wet weather and predictions of more to come led NASCAR to cancel Saturday night’s Cup Series practice and qualifying in mid-afternoon. The field for Sunday’s 600-mile race was set by the NASCAR rulebook, placing William Byron and Kevin Harvick on the front row for the  scheduled 6 p.m. start.

MORE: Charlotte Cup starting lineup

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

Weather also could be an issue Sunday as more rain is predicted for the speedway area.

Drivers were scheduled to practice at 7 p.m. Saturday. That session was to be followed by qualifying at 7:45 p.m. The cancellations were announced at 3:45 p.m.

The time-trial cancellation marked the first time in 64 years that qualifying has been canceled for the 600.

Charlotte Xfinity race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — Persistent rain forced the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled 300-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to Monday.

The race is scheduled to start at noon ET. It will be televised by FS1 and broadcast by the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Driver introductions and other pre-race activities were held at the track Saturday, but rain that had dampened the track in the morning hours returned. After several attempts at drying the track, the race was postponed after heavier rain returned in mid-afternoon.

Justin Allgaier will start the race from the pole position.