When Roger Penske built his 2-mile Michigan oval, the track was originally named Michigan International Speedway. The track was later bundled with Penske's California Speedway, sold to International Speedway Corporation (NASCAR's publicly-traded kissin' cousin company), and renamed simply Michigan Speedway.
For about the last 30 years, all the media and fan hype during the off-season builds toward February's Daytona 500 to open a new Cup season. Throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s, however, the Cup drivers opened the season in January at the road course in Riverside, CA. Also, when Ontario Motor Speedway closed following the 1980 season, Riverside took its place as the season-ending race. NASCAR's new Cup champ was crowned at Riverside from 1981 through 1988 before Riverside too went the way of Ontario.
- Bobby Allison secured his one and only Cup championship at Riverside in 1983.
- Ricky Rudd and Bill Elliott won their first career Cup races at Riverside.
- Tim Richmond won his first (driving for J.D. Stacy) and last (driving for Rick Hendrick) Cup races at the track.
- Richard Petty won at Riverside in 1969 in his first ever race with Ford and again in 1972 in his first ever race with STP as a sponsor.
Rockingham. The Rock. Two names most often used for the track in the sandhills of North Carolina. Rarely did folks refer to it by its proper name: North Carolina Motor Speedway. The track lost its Cup dates early in the 2000s and was all but given up for dead. But Andy Hillenburg bought the track, spruced it up, renamed it Rockingham Speedway, and a few events have now returned. Its certainly a happier story than the fate that befell tracks like Riverside, Ontario, Trenton, Nashville, North Wilkesboro, and countless others.
Like Rockingham, few folks ever called Talladega by its original name: Alabama International Motor Speedway. Even shortening it to the acronym AIMS didn't help the name roll off the tongue. Eventually International Speedway Corporation got tired of wrestling with the name and rebranded the track as Talladega Superspeedway. If they had really wanted to cater to the track's diehards, they would have named it "Tallahdayger".
I'll close this entry with a couple of decals from the good ol' days of Atlanta. The track was a true oval, and the track was named Atlanta International Raceway (AIR). When Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports bought the track, the name was changed to Atlanta Motor Speedway. For many years, this logo is the one I most often associated with the track.
This next one, however, baffles me. I've got the decal, but I don't have a memory or the knowledge. The logo is a good bit different than the AIR logo I remember. But it was also fun for me to re-discover the decal and logo unexpectedly.
Entry #3: Hmm, I think I might roll with decals of non-Petty drivers.