With its 600 miles, the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race is the longest annual race on the NASCAR calender, and it is also famous for having visibility conditions that change dramatically throughout the race (a tradition started in 1993). The first third of the race has excellent natural light conditions, the second third happens at dusk, and the final third takes place under artificial lights.

Short facts about the race

Coca-Cola 600Distance: 600 miles

Laps: 400

Track surface: Asphalt

Track length: 1.5 miles

Turns: 4

The names of the race

1960-1984: World 600

1985: Coca-Cola World 600

1986-2001: Coca-Cola 600

2002: Coca-Cola Racing Family 600

2003-: Coca-Cola 600

The 1960 World 600 race was the inaugural race for the newly built Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Where is the Coca-Cola 600 race held?

The Coca-Cola 600 takes place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.

When is the Coca-Cola 600 race?

It takes place during the Memorial Day weekend. It starts around 6.20 PM.

A few notable events from the history of the race

  • In 1960, the reporter Chris Economaki rushed to the scene when Lenny Page had been severely injured as Don O´Dell´s Pontiac smashed into the door of Page´s Chevy. Economaki applied CPR until the safety crew arrived and was later credited with saving Page´s life.
  • In the 1976 race, Jane Guthrie became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup superspeedway race.
  • The 1980 race lasted seven hours because of 14 caution flags and two lengthy red flags for rain.
  • In 1989, Darrell Waltrip set a new record by winning the race for a 5th time. He had previously won in 1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, and 1989.
  • The 1992 race was the last Coca-Cola 600 to take place entirely in daylight.
  • The 2005 race set a new cautions-record for NASCAR Cup Series races by having 22 cautions. (There was also a red flag late in the race due too debris.) The race was one by Jimmie Johnson, who thereby became the first driver to win three Coca-Cola 600 races in a row.
  • A rainstorm delayed the 2009 race from Sunday to Monday. On Monday, more rain forced the race to an end after just 227 laps – and getting to that point took a whopping six and a half hours due to cautions and red flags.
  • 126 laps into the 2013 race, a cable supporting a Fox Sports Skycam snapped and fell onto the racing surface. Several spectators were injured and several race cars sustained damages.
  • During the 2014 race, a 348-gigapixel 360-degree image of the audience was captured. Its enormous size allowed each one of the 100,000+ spectators in the stands to zoom in on themselves.
  • The 2017 was the first Coca-Cola 600 to run in four stages instead of three.
  • When the 21-year-old William Byron took pole position in the 2019 race, he set a new youth record for Coca-Cola 600 pole position.
  • Because of the Covid19 pandemic, the 2020 Coca-Cola 600 had no spectators in the stands.

Background

The Daytona International Speedway gave the stock car driver Curtis Turner the idea to build a racetrack on his property in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Soon, he learned that Bruton Smith had similar aspirations (but for land near Pineville) and the two joined forces. After forming an alliance to build the track, Turner and Smith inked a deal with NASCAR to run a 600-mile event on Memorial Day.

The initial estimate for the cost of building the racetrack was $750,000 but that was before a layer of granite was discovered under the topsoil. The costs ballooned to almost $2 million and the race premieer had to be postponed (also partly due to a snowstorm that prevent concrete from being poured). When two weeks remained until the race in the spring of 1960, the paving subcontractor wanted to leave since he had not been paid. Turner and one of his friends threatened him with a shotgun and a revolver to keep the work going.

The first racing event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway took place on June 19, 1960.