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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Dover International Speedway (formerly Dover Downs International Speedway) opened in 1969. The track features one layout, a 1 mile (1.6 km) concrete oval, with 24° banking in the turns and 9° banking on the straights. The speedway is owned and operated by Dover Motorsports. It is a a multi-purpose facility, as it also hosts a harness race track in the speedway's infield, as well as the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.
The harness horse racing is a .625 miles gravel track, while the NASCAR racing surface is a 1 mile concrete surface. The racing surface is known as being fast, tight and extremely brutal on cars and drivers.
Dover Motorsports, Inc. is a company that also owns Gateway International Raceway in Madison, IL, Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, TN and Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, TN. Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment is a separate company that owns the harness race track and the gaming facility, although they were all one company at one time.
The track, nicknamed "The Monster Mile," had its first race on July 6, 1969, when the Mason-Dixon 300 was won by Richard Petty. The most wins at the track were by Jimmie Johnson with 10, but Mark Martin has been the most consistent driver in track history with 24 Top 5 finishes and 33 Top 10s.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The normal food stands within the race track are standard event type food; hot dogs, burgers, chicken nuggets. And there are plenty of beer options. The prices are not super high, but not cheap enough to gorge yourself. But these stands do not tell the whole story.
Around Victory Plaza and the whole fan experience area there are numerous food trucks and food tents offering a large variety of food options, often at great values.
Grotto Pizza, the DelMarVa Peninsula's famous pizza has a truck selling pizzas by the slice. I have never personally cared for the offerings of Grotto, but the long lines will say that I am in the minority. If you do not like one option keep moving as there are quite a few others. Italian Sausage is always a winner for me and the choices are quite delicious.
You can also bring your own food into the track. They have to be in a NASCAR approved cooler. Check with the tracks website pre-race to make sure what you try to bring in meets the requirements. Bringing in a personal 6-pack is tradition for a day of racing at Dover.
NASCAR races are extremely loud. Did I say LOUD? Yes, they are loud, so bring good ear protections as you will need it.
The seating areas are not especially exciting. Expect to be on large metal bleachers that sit far and high from the track. The amount of seating will astound you although there has been some lowering in numbers recently because of some dips in attendance.
The atmosphere surrounding race weekend is almost like no other. You will become immersed in a culture and event that you may have never witnessed before. Fans love their drivers and their car manufacturers. The fervor is amazing.
Check the track's website as there are pre-race concerts, events and autograph sessions galore.
The Fan experience area has interactive booths and demonstrations from various vendors and sponsors. Expect to be offered free barbecue ribs from one booth while being offered chewing tobacco at the next. It is like a state fair on some kind of weird steroids. Make sure to soak in this atmosphere as this is just as important as the race to many fans.
The speedway's mascot is called "Miles the Monster." Miles is featured on the winner's trophy, the track's tickets, memorabilia, website, and his own 46-foot Monster Monument in Victory Plaza.
There is no real neighborhood around Dover International Speedway. The speedway sits off the very busy DuPont Highway.
The area is good if you need food and sustenance before or after the game. Legendary local chain Grotto Pizza has a sports bar located right nearby. They have never been a favorite of mine but fans of them will flock there.
Other great choices include Capriotti's Sandwich Shop, Restaurant 55, La Tolteca Restaurant and 33 West Ale House & Grill. The Fire and Ice Bar at Dover Downs Casino is another choice.
NASCAR fans take their love to whole new levels of passion. Nearly every fan will wear and support their favorite driver or drivers. If not a specific driver, then expect to see Ford, Chevy or Toyota emblazoned wears. That passion is evident the moment you even get close to the town of Dover.
The speedway is right off of a major road in DuPont Highway. A toll road, Route 1, which takes you most of the way north to Wilmington, is also nearby.
Dover is about a one and a half hour trip from Philadelphia or Baltimore, and at least two hours from Washington DC. It seems close by on a map but is isolated at the center of the Delmarva Peninsula. If venturing to a shore destination such as Ocean City, Maryland or Rehoboth, Delaware, then Dover may make a quick, enjoyable stop, but as a destination it is not the easiest location to travel to.
There may also be tolls unless you are already on the eastern shore or Delmarva region. If travelling from the DC and Annapolis area you will have to pay tolls across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. If going around the top of the bay from Baltimore you will have to pay very hefty tolls on either Route 40 or I-95. And coming from Norfolk you will need to pay for the Bay Bridge Tunnel.
Parking can be pricey depending on where you decide to park. I usually opt for parking at nearby Delaware State University since parking fees go to whatever college organization is running the process.
There are also shuttle options from around the Dover area, as well as from Wilmington. Please check the Dover website for specifics on those options.
Prices are not cheap. There are a variety of ticketing and package options. But expect to pay more than you would to attend even an NFL game. And many fans pay for whole weekend packages, plus accommodations, etc.
So, although the NASCAR race is not cheap, the value is still very high. It is a BIG event and you must go in expecting to pay BIG prices. It is still very fair for the value extracted.
Miles the Monster, and his large stature is such a destination and meeting spot that it is one of the best things the track has done. It sets the tone for the fan experience and Victory Plaza areas outside the track.
The fan experience area, near Miles, is also quite an experience. It is fun to wander around here and see what the various sponsors of the sport are trying to give out and sell. There is a great kids area, although you will have to register ahead of time for that area.
The Monster Bridge is a seating area that is 29 feet above the track at the entrance to Turn 3. Only seating 56 seats, if one can arrange to sit in these seats they will have a view and experience of the track unlike no other. The seats are not for sale and are used by track sponsors and partners, usually for contests and giveaways.
Check the schedule for autograph sessions. Usually Friday afternoon is a good time to see if one of the Sprint Cup drivers are signing and visiting with fans at one of their many sponsors.
Check out the massive fan store tent where you can buy the goods from nearly every driver on both the Sprint Cup and Xfinity series.
Dover International Speedway is a track that offers race fans, both serious and casual, a fun place to watch and experience stock car racing.
Member Review by gtcrawley on Oct 13, 2012
In 1969, Dover International Speedway opened as a dual-purpose (vehicle and horse racing) facility in Dover, Delaware. The first event, the Mason-Dixon 300, was won by "The King," Richard Petty, one of approximately eight zillion races won by him in his storied career. Nicknamed "The Monster Mile," Dover is brutal on cars. The 14-foot high turns are physically grueling, and the course has been called “Bristol on steroids.” If you are one of those people that wonders what is so difficult about driving in circles for 3 hours, I suggest you try this track at 170 MPH, then report your findings back to me at the "Miles the Monster" Statue, assuming you aren’t in the hospital.
Member Review by Stadiumdude99 on Mar 12, 2016
Nice track with good events. Some difficult travel brings this down but it is a nice venue.
Member Review by NJJammer on Apr 17, 2016
It is a shame that the crowds are not attending Dover International Speedway in the numbers they used to. I am not sure if it's due to ticket pricing, the inconvenience of actually getting to and from the track or if it is fans losing interest in motorsports in general but it is certainly deflating and detracts from the atmosphere when there are acres of empty aluminum grandstands at what is a great track with wonderful sightlines.
Earplugs are a must, this track is LOUD...forget having a conversation. I prefer watching the action on the track as opposed to socializing so this is a plus for me. I enjoy feeling the thunder of 43 (now 40) race machines at full throttle. Last race (I have been to 5 Cup races at DIS), I had an entire row to myself between turns 1 and 2. In fairness, that was probably due to a storm that threatened to blow through that weekend. Kevin Harvick dominated and won what was a lackluster race from a competitive standpoint in Fall of '15.
The seating is great in Dover after they widened the spaces from 18" to 22" a few years ago. The benches have backrests (a huge plus.) The restrooms could be spruced up a bit as they seem a bit dated and they could also increase some of the food options (especially out in the turns). All the premium offerings seem to be located near the Monster Monument.
I wish Dover would update the scoring pylon and invest in larger video screens but I love short track racing and you can see all the action at DIS from almost anywhere unless you are sitting in the bottom few rows. I like this Speedway a lot and it only needs incremental improvements such as handrails for the long climb up to the top rows.
Great track. I hope attendance picks up so DIS can continue to have two Cup races a season.
1159 N Dupont Hwy
Dover, DE 19901
859 N Dupont Hwy
Dover, DE 19901
30 Gateway S Blvd
Dover, DE 19901
33 W Loockerman St
Dover, DE 19904
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