The Myrtle Beach sports scene may be best known for championship golf, water sports and other stick-and-ball games, but the fastest sport on the Grand Strand can be found at the historic Myrtle Beach Speedway. Located off Highway 501, about 9 miles away from Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort, the half-mile asphalt racetrack has been hosting NASCAR action for almost 60 years.
Opened in 1958 as one of the top stops on the young but growing NASCAR circuit, Myrtle Beach Speedway has welcomed such big names as Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson in recent years. The illustrious list of alumni includes two generations of Earnhardts (Ralph, Dale Sr. and Dale Jr.) and four generations of Pettys (Lee, Richard, Kyle and Adam).
The future stars of NASCAR continue to race around the storied bullring under the lights on Saturday nights from April through September, and feature races, car shows, concerts and other special events are held at the track year-round. In fact, racing is more than a spectator sport at Myrtle Beach Speedway, where the NASCAR Racing Experience puts fans behind the wheel to take a real race car for a spin around the same track NASCAR stars from the past, present and future use as a proving ground.
The popular NASCAR Experience program offers four options for flying around the half-mile oval. The Pace Car Ride allows the passenger to ride shotgun with an experienced and certified pace-car driver, while the NASCAR Ride Along alternative gives patrons three laps around the track in the passenger seat. But for those who prefer to take the wheel, the NASCAR Practice program gives the brave 5 minutes of live practice time, and the NASCAR Qualifier offers three hours of time on the track.
For racing fans who like to leave the driving to the pros and would prefer to watch from the safety of the grandstands, Myrtle Beach Speedway hosts one of the most popular biweekly racing programs in the nation. Featuring NASCAR Late Model, Super Truck, Charger, Mini Stock and Vintage Series divisions, Myrtle Beach Speedway offers lots of paint-swapping action in every show. The racing schedule for the remainder of the 2016 season includes the Aug. 20 “Race Back to School Night,” the Sept. 10 “Race Fan Appreciation Night,” the Sept. 16-17 CARS Tour, the Oct. 15 “Lock 'n' Load 200” and the Nov. 10-12 Myrtle Beach 400. The season finale attracts dozens of the top drivers on the East Coast to compete for cash prizes and the prestigious title.
In recent years, Myrtle Beach Speedway has expanded its schedule to include non-racing events. The NOPI Nationals Car Show is held each July and brings in an impressive lineup of race and street cars. The fall festivities include the Color Vibe 5K, which allows runners to hit the track on foot instead of wheels while being splashed with a colorful paint job. The concert lineup includes 1980s icons Rick Springfield, Night Ranger and the Romantics on the infield stage Aug. 27.
Myrtle Beach Speedway sits on 48 acres near the corner of Highway 501 and Highway 31 (the Carolina Bays Parkway). In addition to the biweekly races and other special events, the track is also home to the Horry County Fair, the Wheels of Destruction Thrill Show and the Myrtle Beach BikeFest in the spring. Compass Cove Resort guests can find discount coupons for Myrtle Beach Speedway’s regular racing schedule and special events in the coupon rack in the main lobby, so you and your family can save a few bucks while taking in all the high-speed thrills under the Saturday night lights. For more information, visit www.myrtlebeachspeedway.com.