Address: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 1122 Route 106, North Loudon, NH 03307, USA
PH: +1 603 783-4931
Circuit type: Permanent oval and road courses
New Hampshire's tricky mile-long oval at Loudon – known as the 'Magic Mile' – is the largest sporting venue in New England, playing regular host to twin NASCAR events each year. Aside from stock cars, the track has played host to Indycars in the past (recent attempts to revive the race did not bring the expected crowds) and the road course sees regular club and track day action.
The present facility dates from 1990, but motor racing has been held on the site since the early 1960s. The story begins with an unlikely racing impresario: a tyre salesman and Baptist minister named Keith Bryar. Among his hobbies was dog sled racing and evidently he was quite the racer, even taking trips north to try his hand against the Alaskans. He kennelled his dogs on a parcel of land near Loudon, where he also ran a small amusement park, which included a merry-go-round, a kid's roller coaster and a go-kart track.
With a host of new small oval facilities springing up in the area, Bryar evidently decided this was something worth pursuing and soon he expanded the kart track, utilising its front straight and encircling the rest of the course with a clay oval. He surrounded the course with bleachers and opened the doors to what became known as 106 Midway Raceway.
By any measure, this odd little facility was a success; crowds were regularly in excess of 5,000 and races were heavily over-subscribed with sometimes as many as 60 competitors turning out. Heats had to be organised as the circuit could accommodate only 24 cars at a time.
By 1964, Keith decided to take the plunge and build a permanent road course on the site. Bryar Motorsports Park was born, the 1.6 mile road course being a short but exciting course which followed the contours of the hillside around a small lake. Once again there were excellent (for the time) spectator facilities, with bleachers overlooking the pits offering views of almost the whole course and seating 5,000. Another 2,000 seats were available at the northern end of the site and, in total, crowds of up to 18,000 could be accommodated.
It was not long before the new course began attracting some big name events and drivers; the SCCA Trans-Am cars paid a visit, with legendary tuner Bud Moore pitting his two Mustangs against Roger Penske's two AMC Javelins. George Follmer took the victory for Moore ahead of the Penske cars of Peter Revson and Mark Donohue. Parnelli Jones could only finish 13th in Moore's second car when the bonnet flew off on lap 62.
Later in 1970, NASCAR staged a Grand American Division race for the pony cars at the New Hampshire road course. That event was won by Buck Baker over NASCAR Modified star Max Berrier.
It was motorcycle racing that really put Bryar on the map; a paved 5/8 mile oval was added in 1968 and the circuit became the home of the Laconia National Race, later the Laconia Classic. Opening up the whole facility to allow fans to camp, a canopy of smoke could be seen for miles around when the event was on due to all the campfires.
By the mid-1980s, Bryar Motorsport Park was still a popular local venue, but a general lack of investment had meant the course condition had deteriorated somewhat and, by 1989, only motorcycles were using the venue. Enter Bob Bahre, who purchased the facility from the Bryars and announced plans for a new superspeedway – the first to be constructed in the USA since 1969. The new circuit – to be known as New Hampshire Motor Speedway – would feature a distinctive 1.058-mile four-turn oval.
Construction began in 1989 and was completed in nine months, with the new facility notable in being designed and constructed by the Bahres without consulting engineers. An additional road course extension was completed for use by the following year – this did not use any of the old Bryar course, though the Carousel curve did imitate part of the old track.
NASCAR made its debut at the track in July 1990, with a Busch Series race won by Tommy Ellis. For three years, the Busch Series hosted a pair of races at the track each year with other events including rounds of the Indycar Series and the Laconia Classics, which continued to draw the crowds despite the new surroundings.
The success of the Busch Series races prompted NASCAR to add New Hampshire to the main Winston Cup schedule in 1993 and a second race came three years later when the Bahre and Bruton Smith jointly purchased North Wilkesboro Speedway and transferred its date to New Hampshire.
With its relatively flat turns (the original banking was 12 degrees in the turns, one degree on the straights), the course came in for criticism over the years from the drivers on the NASCAR tour, who regarded it as difficult to overtake and race cleanly on. However, recent changes have done a lot to silence the critics, and the NASCAR events have proved popular with fans. 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 four degrees in the lower two lanes to around seven degrees in the upper portion. The addition of SAFER barriers to the corner walls was made in 2003.
On November 2, 2007, Bruton Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre. Closing documents were completed on January 11, 2008, finalizing the purchase of the newly renamed New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) and the remaining 50 percent stake in North Wilkesboro for $340 million.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is located in Loudon, on Route 106, approximately 14 miles northeast of Concord, New Hampshire. Boston-Logan Airport is the nearest to offer flights to international destinations, approximately 80 miles from Loudon. Regional and connecting flights are available from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, around 30 miles from Loudon.
By car from the south, take Interstate 93 to Exit 15E, Interstate 393. Take Exit 3. Turn left onto Route 106 North. NHMS will is 9 miles north on the right. On NASCAR weekends, it is recommended that visitors enter through the South Entrance. This will be the first gate on the right.
From the north, take I-93 to the Tilton Exit 20 to Route 140 through Belmont to Route 106 South. Follow Route 106 South to the Speedway which is approximately 7 miles on the left. On NASCAR weekends, it is recommended that visitors enter through the North Entrance. This will be the first gate on the left.
On non-NASCAR weekends, visitors arriving from both directions should proceed past the South or North Entrances to the Main Entrance.
The circuit provides free on-site parking to anyone with a ticket to the day's event, while shuttle bus facilities are also available from Concord and other destinations. Check the circuit website for details.