New Hampshire International Speedway is a 1.058 mile oval track which has hosted NASCAR racing since the 1990s. It is commonly referred to by its location, Loudon. (Turn 4 and the north grandstand are actually in the neighboring community of Canterbury.)
The track was opened in June 1990, after 9 months of construction after the Bahre family purchased the Bryar Motorsports Park in the region and redeveloped the popular motorcycle circuit into a multi-purpose track, with NASCAR added to the popular motorcycle and SCCA races on the complex. It was the largest speedway in New England, and later expansion has made this the largest sports venue of any type in the region. NASCAR made its debut at the track in July 1990, with a Busch Series race won by Tommy Ellis. For 3 years, the Busch Series hosted a pair of races at the track each year.
These races were successful and led to Loudon earning a spot on the Winston Cup schedule in 1993. Rusty Wallace won the inaugural Slick 50 300 in July of that year.
A second 300 mile race was added to the schedule in 1997, taking one of the spots that North Wilkesboro once had on the schedule after that track was sold in an estate sale. The race is held in the middle of September, and in 2004, Loudon became the first race in NASCAR's Chase for the Cup "playoff" series.
In 2000, the track was the site of a pair of fatal accidents which took the lives of promising young drivers. In May, while practicing for a Busch Series race, Adam Petty perished when his throttle stuck in the middle of a turn. When Winston Cup made their first appearance, a similar fate befell 1998 Rookie of the Year Kenny Irwin, Jr.. For safety reasons, track owners decided to run restrictor plates on the cars during their return trip to the speedway in September 2000, making it the first track outside of Daytona and Talladega to use them. It would be the last one as well; a boring race won by Jeff Burton, which had no lead changes, was the result of the experiment. It was the first wire-to-wire race since the 1970's.
The 2001 New Hampshire 300 was originally scheduled for September 16, the Sunday after the September 11 terrorist attacks. NASCAR initially announced that the race would be held as scheduled, but finally the event was postponed until the Friday after Thanksgiving. There was much concern about the weather, but race day turned out to be unseasonably mild.
Two changes were made. In 2002, in an effort to increase competitive racing, the track's corners were turned into a progressive banking system, as the apron was paved and became part of the track, and the track's banking was varied from 4 degrees in the lower two lanes to 12 degrees. The addition of SAFER barriers to the corner walls was made in 2003.
During the September 2003 Sylvania 300, an incident occurred at this track involving Dale Jarrett where his car was stuck in the middle of the race track and was in danger of getting hit while other cars raced back to the caution flag. As a result, NASCAR banned racing back to the caution flag, resulting in a "free pass" (popularly referred to as "the lucky dog") in which the first car behind the leader not on the lead lap would get their lap back during each caution period in all of NASCAR's national and regional series.
In mid-May 2006, Loudon was one of many New England communities which experienced damaging floods after a week of near-record rainfall. Several roads and bridges were washed out near the speedway. The infield was flooded, as was the track itself (while a road racing event was going on.) The facility also experienced flooding in October 2005.
Recently, the track has expanded its infield care center and remodeled its radio and television booths. Sylvania sponsors the latter of the two race dates at Loudon and has done so since 2003. Lenox sponsors the first race.
- NASCAR Nationwide Series - Camping World 200 presented by RVs.com
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - Lenox Industrial Tools 300
- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series - Sylvania 200
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - Sylvania 300
- New Hampshire International Speedway Official Site
- New Hampshire International Speedway Page on NASCAR.com