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2014 track profile: Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Charlotte, North Carolina is considered the center of the NASCAR universe, so it's only fitting that some of the season's most exciting night racing takes place in its backyard at Charlotte Motor Speedway, located on Concord Pkwy. South in Concord. Opened in 1960, the 1.5-mile speedway features many ingenious ideas set forth by O. Bruton Smith and H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler.

The two masterminds came together in the mid-1970s, and set industry standards for customer satisfaction for racing facilities. Luxury suites, the Speedway Club, more than 50 condo units, and a revolutionary lighting system are just some of the improvements made throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The facility is also home to a 2.25-mile road course, a 0.6-mile karting course, a 0.25-mile asphalt oval, and a 1/5-mile oval. The track hosts a huge auto fair and auction in April, and during the holiday season hosts the Speedway Christmas light show. Located nearby and part of the complex are The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway and zMAX Dragway, the four-lane "Bellagio of drag strips."

2014 NASCAR action gets underway in May with the Camping World Truck Series (Friday, May 16th), the Sprint All-Star Race (Saturday, May 17th), Liftmaster Pole Day for the Coca Cola 600 (Thursday, May 22nd), the Nationwide Series (Saturday, May 24th), and the Sprint Cup Series' Coca Cola 600 (Sunday, May 25th). NASCAR returns in October with Bojangles' Pole Night (Thursday, October 9th), the Nationwide Series (Friday, October 10th), and the Sprint Cup Bank of America 500 (Saturday, October 11th).

Tickets are now available for May Speedweeks through www.ticketmaster.com: tickets for the All-Star Race range in price from $49 to $89, while tickets for the Coca Cola 600 range in price from $49 to $135 (plus taxes and fees). For more information on tickets for the NASCAR weekends, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

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