26 Feb Making our Way to the Jewel in the Desert – Phoenix International Raceway
49 years ago the Phoenix International Raceway started as an open-wheel racing venue tucked away in the desert mountains. Through the years there have been a number of updates and improvements to the track and facilities, making the Phoenix International Raceway a favorite destination for NASCAR drivers and fans. Even though the first NASCAR Sprint Cup races weren’t held at PIR until 1988, there is almost a half century worth of racing history tucked around the beautiful Estrella Mountains. From the first “Polish Victory Lap” to Arie Luyendyk’s one-lap world record for speed on a true one-mile oval, PIR holds a special place in racing history.
As the oldest major-league oval track west of the Mississippi River, Phoenix International Raceway has seen its fair share of redesigns and upgrades. Originally completed in January of 1964, this one mile track has grown to accommodate more and more fans through the years. Although it’s not the largest track on the circuit, the 11 degree banking in turns one and two and nine degree banking in turns three and four, along with the “dogleg” design has made the Jewel in the Desert a fan favorite!
The Arizona heat and mountain climate have created drastic changes in temperature and weather at the Phoenix International Raceway. Extreme weather coupled with the nearly 200 major races wreaked havoc on the track’s racing surface, necessitating a pavement overhaul in 1999. After the “Great Pot Hole Fiasco” at the 2010 Daytona 500, the Phoenix International Raceway recognized the need for another repaving job. This repaving was also accompanied by the first major redesign in Phoenix International Raceway history. In order to increase the level of competition at PIR, the engineering team and leadership at the track discussed their plans with a number of drivers and Goodyear tire experts. Through their experience and expertise, coupled with the foresight and passion of the PIR team, the Phoenix International Raceway was redesigned to create a better racing surface for drivers and an enhanced view for fans! The Jewel in the Desert now boasts side-by-side racing views for fans going into Turn 1 all the way through and out of Turn 4; Spectators in the grandstands get a better view of the race, something PIR is very proud of.
Though Clint Bowyer’s last trip to the Phoenix International Raceway was an eventful one, we’re hoping for less time in the garage and more time in Victory Lane in 2013! Whether you’ve got a trackside seat at PIR for the upcoming Subway Fresh Fit 500 or you’ll be tuning in from home, take some time to appreciate the track and soak in all the amazing landscape and racing history that comes with an event at the Jewel in the Desert! Best of luck to Clint and the entire 5-hour ENERGY® Racing Crew!