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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Homestead-Miami Speedway has always been one of the premiere racing facilities in America, if not the world. But after the newly altered NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase format, the track now hosts one of the single biggest and most dramatic sporting events in the world, as well.
Since it opened in 1995, Homestead-Miami Speedway has gone through several track redesigns, leading to the current format it will likely keep forever. The racing is top notch, thanks to the variable 18-20 degree banking in the corners. The speedway has hosted, in addition to NASCAR, the likes of IndyCar, AMA Motorcycles, Grand-Am (known now as TUDOR United Sports Car Series), Formula D, SCCA, FARA, PBOC, CCS, Ferrari Challenge, and others.
The track also has hosted several events that don’t feature racing, such as the Tough Mudder, Foam Glow 5K, The Color Run, the City of Homestead’s 4th of July Race to the 4th fireworks display, and countless others events.
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".
As always, Homestead-Miami Speedway has the best food and drink selections when it comes to Ford Championship Weekend. Whether you want traditional sports fare like burgers, hot dogs, pizza, etc., or you're looking for something more exotic (fresh pressed Cuban sandwiches, Polish sausages, sweets, et al), Homestead-Miami Speedway has you covered.
During several ancillary events, food trucks will also roll up to the track, just in case what you want isn't on their menu.
Drinks vary from water and sodas to several different international and domestic beer selections, as well as a wine and spirits collection that rivals any other sports venue in America.
The best part? You won't break your bank purchasing something to eat or drink. Rarely do you spend over $7 or $8 on an item, and the drinks are all reasonably priced. Even the guys walking up and down the grandstands during the race with beer, cotton candy, or lemonade are fairly priced.
As if the atmosphere in South Florida wasn't enough to make this a must-attend event, the latest NASCAR points system change has brought the energy at Ford Championship Weekend to a fever pitch.
Fans roaming the midway all weekend are buzzing about the latest qualify or practice results and their respective predictions for who will take home NASCAR's top prize.
Homestead-Miami Speedway was originally constructed in the middle of miles upon miles of palm tree farm fields, but you would never know that looking at it now. In the decade and a half since its construction, the immediate area has changed drastically. There are housing developments all around, with each one growing more expansive and beautiful with each passing day, giving the area a true "neighborhood" feel. Not far away is the new state-of-the-art Homestead Hospital, as well as a shopping center off of Florida's Turnpike exit 2 that has a wonderful array of dining options, like Olive Garden, Chili's, Sonic, Portofino Coal Fired Pizza, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, and Panera Bread. Additionally, shopping options are there, as well (Kohl's, Publix Supermarket, Sports Authority, etc.). That being said, South Beach and Miami are a mere 30 miles north, available for those who wish to visit the more vibrant side of South Florida. The Florida Keys are also nearby, just 15 miles south.
Florida City, which is literally next to Homestead, is also booming with new shopping plazas popping up with food options there, as well (Dunkin Donuts, Jimmy John's, Applebees, Golden Coral, Cracker Barrel, Krispy Kreme, etc.)
While recent years have seen the crowds at NASCAR races dwindle due to the economy, the new Chase format makes Homestead stand out from the rest.
The 2014 Ford EcoBoost 400 sold out over a week before the race actually began, a first for the track in over five years.
The fans packed in the track for the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races, as well, even though both of the championship fights for the two series were all but decided.
Indeed, NASCAR's changes to the Chase have made the fan base that visits Homestead-Miami Speedway even greater than before.
While Homestead-Miami Speedway may not be literally off the exit ramp from Florida's Turnpike, a few miles of rather direct traveling is all it takes to get there. Parking is extremely easy to find, while the signs are numerous and easy to read, as far as directing you to your destination. Traffic flow in and out is orchestrated by local police and security, as well as volunteers in the parking areas, so getting lost is very unlikely, and if it does happen, it is not hard to find help.
Entrances into the track itself are equally as numerous, and the lines to get in (bag checks are at every gate) are usually very quick-moving. Pit passes for most events are easy to purchase, and grant fans arguably the closest and best access to drivers, teams, and garages in the world. Autographs are almost a certainty, either through a pit pass, or the multitude of driver appearances set up throughout the weekend.
For road course races, not many tracks rival H-MS for how close you get to the action. All around the infield road course are bleachers set up for fans to watch the racing action at the closest battled corners of the track, all less than 25 feet from the track itself. It's as if you're sitting right on top of the action.
For the price of a ticket to the race, you get not just the event, but an experience. There are so many displays set up around the track during NASCAR weekend, and so many giveaways and contests, as well that one can easily go the entire weekend and likely miss something among the fan areas!
The fan experience at the track is made even greater by the pre-race festivities put on at the race itself. Prior to the 2014 Ford EcoBoost 400, for example, fans were treated to a pre-race concert by country music superstar Jason Aldean, as well as driver introductions with DJ Irie.
With the added knowledge that you WILL see a new champion crowned at the end of the Ford EcoBoost 400, you are also getting to witness history, and you certainly cannot put a price on that.
New in 2014 was something for everyone visiting Homestead-Miami Speedway that also loves the great outdoors. In partnership with the City of Homestead and the National Park Service, the Homestead National Parks Trolley began servicing Homestead-Miami Speedway during the entire race week, offering ranger-guided trips to either Biscayne National Park or Everglades National Park, both of which border Homestead and Florida City on either side. These trolleys are free and also include free entry into both parks. Everglades National Park's trolley features stops at the Ernest Coe Visitors Center and the Anhinga Trail, which also features Gumbo Limbo Trail.
The Biscayne National Park Trolley takes visitors to Homestead Bayfront Park and the Biscayne National Park Dante Fascell Visitors Center.
No track comes close to Homestead-Miami Speedway when it comes to fan access, fan friendliness, and the quality of the product you see on track.
For years to come, fans will continue to flock to this facility that has grown to become one of the best in all of sports. Whether you're visiting for NASCAR or a small SCCA race, the experience at the track is second to none.
Member Review by ChrisGreenPhotography on Dec 29, 2012
Homestead-Miami Speedway has quickly become one of the premiere sporting venues in the nation since it was opened in 1995. Having gone through 3 renovations since it was built, the track now is the host of the NASCAR championship weekend for its three major series. It has also hosted series on a recurring or regular basis such as Gran-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and IndyCar. Currently, its main draws are the aforementioned NASCAR weekend as well as the AMA Motorcycle racing series.
Add to these the multitude of smaller racing circuits that visit the track throughout the year (SCCA, CCS, PBOC, FARA, etc.) and you have a motorsports destination that’s being used on a nearly weekly basis. In addition, on Friday nights, the speedway hosts its “Speedway T-N-T” nights, a test and tune for drag racers on the track’s 1/8 mile strip set up on pit road. The races are not bracketed, but rather against whoever happens to pair up in line. Anyone can take their car off the street to race for $20 all night with no limits on races, and each run comes with a free printed stat sheet of run times.
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