Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
Dover International Speedway 1131 N Dupont Hwy Dover, DE 19901
Year Opened: 1969
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-mile 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.
Food & Beverage 5
The normal food stands within the race track are standard event 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 option 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 options are quite delicious.
Dover International Speedway - Grotto Truck, Photo by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
You can also bring your own food into the track. They have to be in a NASCAR approved cooler. Check with the track’s 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 protection 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 per se around the speedway. Dover 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 across the street at 1159 N DuPont Highway. They have never been a favorite of mine but fans of them will flock there.
Other great choices include Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop on Gateway S Blvd, Restaurant 55 at 2461 S State St, La Tolteca Restaurant at 859 N Dupont Hwy and 33 West Ale House & Grill at 33 W Loockerman Street. The Fire and Ice Bar at Dover Downs Casino is another choice for a drink after the game.
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.
Return on Investment 4
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 statue 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.
Dover International Speedway - Monster Bridge, Photo by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
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 is a highly accessible track that offers race fans, both serious and casual, a fun place to watch and experience stock car racing.