Phoenix International Raceway Packages
Sun, November 10, 2013
The Chase for the Sprint Cup is coming down to the wire, and the excitement is heating up in the desert. The AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, formally known as the Kobalt Tools 500, may prove to be the race that decides this year’s cup champion.
7602 S. Avondale Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85353
Phoenix International Raceway is, literally, like the mythical phoenix. The race track located just west of downtown in Arizona’s capital city rose from the ashes of a fire, started by a lightning strike, that burned down most of its main grandstand in 1987. The next year, however, Phoenix International Raceway came back from that sad day to being a new era in racing in the Southwest. NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series, now known as Sprint Cup, made its first visit to the 1-mile oval in 1988 and Phoenix has been flying high ever since.
Phoenix International Raceway sits in the foothills of the Estrealla Mountains. Built in 1964, it first served as a desert oasis for American open-wheel racing. IndyCars made 58 visits to Phoenix International Raceway, with great drivers like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt and the Unsers gracing its Victory Lane.
Another great Phoenix International Raceway tradition began in February 1977 when a pair of races on the track’s oval and road courses were held in a two-day event known as the Copper World Classic. That annual event still draws some of the best racers from several different series to Phoenix International Raceway.
After the fire in April 1987, work began on the new Phoenix. When a three-story suite building was completed outside Turn 1 in October 1988, the track’s capacity for reserved tickets was up to 30,000 and Phoenix International Raceway was ready for the first visit by NASCAR’s Cup series. That race turned out to be a memorable one for many reasons. The race, held Nov. 6, 1988, wound up being the first Cup victory for Alan Kulwicki, the tough-minded independent driver who would go on to win the 1992 Cup Series title. Upon taking the checkered flag that day, Kulwicki turned around and took his victory lap backward, going clockwise around the track, giving birth to his now famous “Polish victory lap.”
By the time the track celebrated its 30th anniversary in 1994, Phoenix International Raceway had seen Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Davey Allison and Mark Martin also win Cup races. Dick Trickle had won Southwest Series events, Ken Schrader had won in the U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown Series, Michael Andretti had topped 170 mph in an IndyCar, the International Motorsports Association ran an event in its Camel GT series under the lights on the track’s road course and the American Motorcycle Association had brought its National Superbike Series to town.
International Speedway Corporation bought Phoenix International Raceway from owner Buddy Jobe in April 1997, and under the ISC banner the track has continued to grow. More than 76,000 reserved seat tickets can now be sold for each event, and when the large crowds that watch races here from the unique vantage point of a mountainside outside of Turn 3, crowds for NASCAR’s top events now top 100,000.
In April 2005, Phoenix International Raceway moved to yet another level when it hosted the Subway Fresh 500 under new lights that produce enough to light more than 10,000 city blocks. The addition of that race to the NASCAR race schedule gives Phoenix International Raceway two Sprint Cup weekends each year, including the traditional November date that comes in the next-to-last weekend of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship battle.