Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
Homestead-Miami Speedway 1 Speedway Boulevard Homestead, FL 33035
Year Opened: 1995
NASCAR’s Final Four
Homestead-Miami Speedway prides itself on being one of the top speedway destinations in America. That has been reflected in the track’s facility upkeep, modernization, and overall fan satisfaction. It continues to be host to a variety of events outside of NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend as well, with club racing and various track day events taking place on the premises throughout the year.
Food & Beverage 5
Homestead-Miami Speedway has some of the best food and drink selections when it comes to pro sports. 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 with locations all over the facility.
The track’s concessions stands are located around the track in various locations, making finding food easy. The food selection is still stellar and quite impressive when it comes to how much you can choose from. The prices are also still solid, despite going up a dollar or so. For example, hot dogs run from $5 to $9, depending on what kind you want.
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 are buzzing all weekend about the latest qualifying or practice results and their respective predictions for who will take home NASCAR’s top prize. Indeed, the Chase has produced one of the single most electric feelings at a sporting event in the world.
The track could use some updating in places (for example, most of the water fountains were green and moldy looking, if they work). Also, where restrooms used to be monitored by a cleaning staff, they are often left all weekend seemingly unchecked. The grandstands show their age, with many of them needing replacement or tightening, as they are loose and give a lot when leaned against. Homestead-Miami Speedway has made improvements to the track itself, but could use some sprucing up of the simple things, too.
Sadly, in years past where sponsor displays took up every inch of real estate both inside the gates and outside, now just a few main displays remain, meaning there is a lot less to do between race sessions. Aside from that, the track action is among the best in all of racing. The fans in the stands erupt with each pass for the lead, and know exactly who they do and do not like.
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 drastically changed. 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 from the track is the new state-of-the-art Homestead Hospital, as well as a shopping center off 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, Chipotle, and Panera Bread. Additionally, shopping options are there as well (Kohl’s, Publix Supermarket, 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-Miami Speedway, is also booming with new shopping plazas popping up with food options, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Jimmy John’s, Applebee’s, Golden Coral, Cracker Barrel, Krispy Kreme, etc. Looking for a hotel isn’t as hard as it used to be either, with a Home2 Suites by Hilton popping up in Florida City, as well as a few new hotels having arrived near Florida Turnpike exit 2, such as Hampton Inn & Suites Homestead.
For sights, the entrance to both Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park are just miles away.
While recent years have seen the crowds at NASCAR races dwindle due to the economy, the new Chase format makes Homestead-Miami Speedway stand out from the rest – the 2015 Ford EcoBoost 400 sold out over a month before the race actually began. However, that trend has continued to go down as well, with the 2018 edition of the race only selling out the day before the big race.
The fans packed the track for the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races as well, with the two series also having adopted a chase elimination style format. 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 literally be 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 via the multitude of driver appearances set up throughout the weekend.
For road course races, not many tracks rival Homestead-Miami Speedway 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.
Return on Investment 5
Homestead-Miami Speedway is NASCAR’s equivalent to the NCAA Final Four, the Super Bowl, and The Masters all rolled into one. 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 all the fan areas!
The fan experience at Homestead-Miami Speedway is made even greater by the pre-race festivities put on at the race itself. Prior to the 2018 Ford EcoBoost 400, for example, fans were treated to a pre-race concert by country music sensation Hunter Hayes, as well as driver introductions with UFC announcer Bruce Buffer. 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.
For fans staying in Homestead-Miami Speedway’s camping grounds, the Homestead National Parks Trolley is there to take visitors to either Everglades National Park or Biscayne National Park for free. In addition, every year there is a charity fishing tournament, with the best in both pro fishing and racing taking part in the track’s infield lake.
The various displays at Homestead-Miami Speedway also feature driver Q&As and autograph sessions during race weekends, though the number of displays has greatly diminished over the past few years to just a handful of sponsor setups. But ticket holders for all three races get post-race tickets to join the championship celebrations on the front stretch.
Homestead-Miami Speedway remains one of the top destinations for any sports fan to visit. History is made every year here, regardless of what happens – you will see a champion crowned, guaranteed; few other events in sports can say that.
Despite its aging flaws, Homestead-Miami Speedway remains a must-stop for anyone looking to experience the best NASCAR has to offer.