NASCAR returns to smaller capacity Dover track

 Empty seats in turn three are covered by advertisements at the September 2014 race at Dover International Speedway. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Empty seats in turn three are covered by advertisements at the September 2014 race at Dover International Speedway. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

More than 17,000 seats have been removed from Dover International Speedway, lowering overall seating capacity to less than 100,000.

NASCAR fans will notice the seat reductions in turns two and three, which had been the lowest selling sections of the track in recent years. Grandstands have been eliminated in both the upper and lower sections of turn two and the lower section of turn three. Those seating areas have been barren on race days for a number of years. Track capacity for this weekend is at 95,500.

The seat trimming process isn’t over either. After the fall race weekend, work will begin on removing the upper sections of turn three. That will lower overall seating capacity to 85,000.

The reduction in seats comes after a major expansion at the facility through the 1990’s. The track added seats for 16 years in a row ending in 2001 with a full capacity of 135,000. That capacity lasted for about ten years. In 2011, the track widened its existing seats from 18 to 22 inches, reducing capacity to 113,000.

Other improvements

Fans will also notice changes along the edge of the race track, as a new catch fence has been installed to improve safety. “Our original fence served us well, but it was time for an update,” said Michael Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway. “The safety of our fans and competitors is something we never want to compromise.” 

At 21 feet, the new fence is six feet higher than the original. Tatoian said the $2.9 million fence incorporates the latest safety technology.

 

 

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