10 Abandoned Race Tracks, Speedways & Dragways

texas-world-speedway-abandoned-3 (Image: ViperFergy – screenshot via YouTube; an abandoned race track in Texas)

There’s something oddly counterintuitive about abandoned race tracks. The idea that a place so devoted to speed might play out its remaining years very slowly turning to dust seems faintly ironic, and not at all what you’d expect. Nonetheless, there they are. Lying across the Western world: the bygone speedways and abandoned drag strips of yesteryear. Once a place for thousands to gather and cheer on adrenaline-filled drivers, they are now little more than empty tarmac tracks, monuments to the drivers of the past.

Beach Haven Speedway, Pennsylvania (USA)

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abandoned-ruins-of-beach-haven-speedway-pennsylvania-6 (Images: Mike Kerick; the ruins of Beach Haven abandoned speedway)

Opened in the 1960s near an old amusement park, Beach Haven is a small slice of Pennsylvania racing history. Looking onto a vast lake and featuring only a small track, it was nonetheless a popular spot for people to go chill out and enjoy some motor racing in the mid-20th century. Eventually shut down due to being unprofitable, it is now likely one of the most-overgrown abandoned speedways in the entire world.

Seen today, the ruins of Beach Haven are astonishing. The bleachers are so overgrown that trees are sprouting between seats, ensnaring the entire stand in a thick tangle of branches. The track itself is carpeted with vegetation and structures are collapsing in on themselves. Old, rusted cars still dot the area, broken reminders of races past.

Windy Hollow Drag Strip, Kentucky (USA)

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abandoned-drag-racing-strip-windy-hollow-3 (Image: Adam Paris – website: AP Imagery; abandoned drag strip at Windy Hollow)

Seen today, the old Windy Hollow Drag Strip in Kentucky is a sorry sight. Fenced off behind rusted barbed wire, its tarmac surface overgrown and ruined, it looks utterly desolate. The stands are falling apart, there’s debris on the track and the atmosphere reeks of silence and neglect. Looking at these photos, it can feel like no-one has set foot on the abandoned drag strip in a very long time.

The surrounding Kentucky countryside only adds to this sense of overwhelming isolation. All around the old drag strip, the world sweeps away, flat and directionless. An eternity of scrubland and bedraggled woodland. In reality, a pair of main roads pass by not very far away, but in the ruins of the abandoned speedway, it can feel like you’re many miles from anywhere.

Historic Brooklands Circuit, Surrey (UK)

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abandoned-motor-racing-circuit-brooklands-4 (Images: John Chapman; Giles Williams; Dwilliams851; Brooklands’ historic race circuit)

brooklands-motor-racing-circuit (Image: via calflier001; depiction of Brooklands in its glory days)

Brooklands in Surrey has many claims to fame. The world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit (as opposed to an old cycle or horse racing track that had been repurposed), it was also one of the UK’s first airfields and a significant aircraft manufacturing hub. But it was most-famous for its 2.75 mile concrete racing track. Opened in 1907 with a procession of 40 cars, it was soon hosting events before an astonishing 280,000 spectators.

However, as time dragged on and Britain got embroiled in more and more world wars, the need to focus Brooklands on aircraft testing and manufacture became apparent. Although the races returned after the Great War, the outbreak of World War Two spelled the end of Brooklands’ days as a circuit. While the aerodrome part continued to function for many more years, the concrete motor racing track was left to become overgrown with weeds. Today, it forms part of the local museum, a reminder of the circuit’s place in the history of motor racing.

Texas World Speedway, College Station (USA)


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texas-world-speedway-abandoned-2 (Images: William Markus; Bing Maps; the abandoned Texas World Speedway)

Opened in 1969, the now-abandoned Texas World Speedway was for a period one of the USA’s longest racing tracks. The site of multiple NASCAR and Indycar rallies, it was once famous enough to even attract guys like Willie Nelson, who played a concert there in the 1970s. Yet its use as a speedway lasted only a comparatively short period of time. In the 1980s, the track fell into such a state of disrepair that NASCAR refused to hold races there.

Fast forward to today, and it can seem like the speedway never truly recovered. Although classic car showcases and driving schools continued to utilize it for many years, it never again reached the heights of its 1970s glory. Seen from above today, large tracts of it look utterly desolate; dusty stretches of asphalt that haven’t seen tires in a long time. Supposedly, the track itself was due to be redeveloped as housing some time in 2016, meaning this old abandoned raceway will likely soon be gone forever.

Phoenix Trotting Park in Goodyear, Arizona (USA)

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abandoned-trotter-park-race-track-goodyear-arizona-6 (Images: DragonLover; abandoned horse racing course in Arizona)

Not far outside the small town of Goodyear, Arizona, sits this monument to shattered dreams and failed ambition. A space-age concrete wonderland that was built in 1964, the Phoenix Trotting Park was originally intended to be a popular horse-racing track. At the cost of $10 million, the project opened in 1965. It closed a mere two-and-a-half seasons later. In the middle of nowhere, prone to flooding and buffeted by harsh desert winds, it simply wasn’t somewhere any racing fan wanted to be.

Today, the abandoned horse racing track is in remarkably good shape. Its concrete design has endured desert conditions for decades to leave behind an eerily complete ruin. While the insides are gutted and every available surface has been liberally tagged with graffiti, the overall effect is of somewhere abandoned only recently. Walking through its dead and empty halls, you could almost be forgiven for wondering where everyone had gone.

Keimola Motor Stadium, Vantaa (Finland)

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abandoned-Keimola-Motor-Stadium-Vantaa-Finland-5 (Images: Jussi Virta; the ruins of Keimola Motor Stadium)

Founded back in 1963, the 2.1 mile long circuit of the Keimola Motor Stadium was for a short time one of Finland’s premier race tracks. Sprawling through eight turns in the middle of a woodland before ending on a 0.62 mile home-straight, it was frequently used by Formula Two during its lifetime. However, it never quite managed to make the jump into becoming profitable. Eventually closed in 1978, the abandoned raceway stood empty for years.

Today, the track is little more than a forgotten ruin in the middle of a forest. The tarmac is overgrown and scattered with leaves. Broken, smashed up and rusted old cars turn to dust on its fringes. The remaining concrete buildings are covered with graffiti and look significantly worse for wear. Standing on the home stretch now, it’s almost impossible to imagine the old cars racing along here as they did a few decades ago. The place is too quiet, too forgotten. The abandoned Keimola Motor Stadium is now being transformed it into a residential area (updated).

North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Carolina (USA)


north-wilkesboro-speedway-abandoned (Image: Bing Maps; abandoned North Wilkesboro Speedway)

The first thing you notice about the now-defunct North Wilkesboro Speedway is the seats. Rows and rows of empty, dust-covered seats fading in the harsh southern sun, watching over the overgrown track. First opened in the aftermath of World War Two, in 1947, the now-abandoned speedway was a NASCAR mecca right the way up until its closure in the mid-1990s. Temporarily reopened in 2010, it again lies empty, a half-forgotten local icon.

Compared to some on our list, North Wilkesboro Speedway was never particularly impressive. The track was a simple oval, stretching no further than a total of 0.625 miles. Yet it certainly had its fans. When the circuit initially closed down in the 1990s, a grassroots effort to save it quickly emerged. A Save the Speedway campaign was started and people tried their best to bring back racing. Sadly, though, times had simply moved on. While 2010 saw a brief renaissance, the abandoned speedway was closed once again less than a year later.

Reims-Gueux Circuit, Champagne (France)

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Reims-Gueux-abandoned-motor-racing-track-in-france-5 (Images: Tvx1 (12); alainalelePaul Smith; drive through the abandoned Reims-Gueux)

One of the oldest tracks on our list, Reims-Gueux in France first became operational as far back as 1926. The second venue of the Grand Prix de la Marne, this racing behemoth covered a staggering 4.8 miles, including two extremely-long straight sections seemingly designed to get an audience’s pulse racing. Long one of the world’s greatest tracks, it came to define French racing in the mid-20th century.

Despite this, the track couldn’t last forever. Following a remodelling in the 1950s, the circuit soon began to lose money. By 1969, it had held its last car competition. In 1972, after three years of motorcycle races, Reims-Gueux closed altogether. Today, the impressive ruins of the old track can still be seen languishing alongside public roads, the stands decaying and covered in graffiti. While hopes of a revival for the track persisted into the 21st century, a partial demolition of the abandoned raceway in 2002 means this will almost-certainly never come to pass.

Abandoned I-70 Speedway, Missouri (USA)

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abandoned-i-70-speedway-3 (Images: Google Earth; Bing Maps; I-70 abandoned speedway)

A small-ish, half mile asphalt track in Missouri, the I-70 Speedway operated for 40 whole years between 1969 and 2009. One of the homes of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series in the 1990s, it was something of a mecca for Missouri racetrack lovers. Everyone from Mark Martin to Joe Shear to Paul Newman (yes, that Paul Newman) raced there, tearing round the curves before crowds of delighted onlookers. When the I-70 Speedway finally closed, many felt like it was the death of a local legend.

The fate of the abandoned speedway in the years since is more vague. Looking at it on Google Earth, it looks like some sort of construction work may be taking place, perhaps in the hope of redeveloping the site. Yet the stands still remain intact, and it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the track may one day reopen. Who knows? Perhaps a few short years from now, the abandoned I-70 Speedway will see more famous faces careening around its asphalt surface.

Abandoned Shuffletown Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina (USA)

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shuffletown-dragway-abandoned-charlotte-nc-2 (Images: Bing Maps; Google Streetview; this abandoned dragway is now Shuffletown Park)

North Carolina’s abandoned Shuffletown Dragway is the pinnacle of decay. A long stretch of cracked and broken tarmac with weeds sprouting through it, surrounded on all sides by dense forest, it’s an absolute, comprehensive ruin. The remaining spectator stands are crawling with ivy, overgrown and close to collapse. The other traces of the former dragway have more-or-less been swallowed up by nature. It’s a ruin to end all ruins; a slice of what America’s roads will look like decades after the world has ended.

First opened in 1958, the now-abandoned drag racing strip was originally in the middle of an isolated, rural area. But as the population of Charlotte grew, it began to be submerged under a tide of suburbs and residential streets. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened next. Faced with the noise of a raceway in their back yard, local residents complained. They complained until the Shuffletown Dragway was finally forced to close in 1996. The abandoned speedway has remained empty ever since, slowly succumbing to the elements.

Related: 10 Abandoned Car & Vehicle Graveyards of the World

 
 


 
 
 

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