Since 1948 the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule has seen some major changes. It has changed it just about every way possible. The length of the races has changed, the amount of races has been growing and the tracks themselves have come and gone. Its really astonishing how much its changed.
The inaugural season of NASCAR was in 1948 and it featured a long 52 race schedule. There were only TWO races above the Mason-Dixon line. They were in Langhorne PA and Dover NJ. Langhorne Speedway was a complete circle. It was one of the hardest tracks to race on. The only track that is still on the schedule is Martinsville Speedway. There were also a variety of dirt tracks that aren’t even around anymore that NASCAR raced on that year
The schedule didn’t change too much until 1971 when RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company took the title sponsor for NASCAR and it became the Winston Cup Series. The is known as the beginning of the modern era of NASCAR. The changes made were the season was shortened to 31 races. All races on dirt were removed from the schedule and all races that were shorter than 250 miles. Some tracks that around used by the Sprint Cup Series anymore were Hickory, Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Smokey Mountain Raceway and Trenton Speedway. Those are to just name a few but there were many others.
As hard as this is to believe, up until 1981 the Daytona 500 was NOT the first race of the year. It was actually the Winston Western 500 at Riverside Raceway. Riverside was on the Sprint Cup tour for the final time in 1988. The track was then torn up and a shopping mall was built in its place. Strangly enough the very next year Sonoma was added to the schedule. Isn’t that stupid that they take a road course in California out and then add a road course in California.
The schedule lost another great race in 1996 when North Wilkesboro Speedway closed its doors and has not held a NASCAR race since then. The track today is slowly rotting away. You can still see the Winston logos around the track. The 2 races were replaced in 1997 by the brand new Texas Motor Speedway.
The schedule changed more in the late 90s when Auto Club Speedway was added in 1997 and Las Vegas in 98. 2001 brought two tracks to the schedule. They were Kansas and Chicagoland. After 2001 the schedule did not see any new Tracks added to the Sprint Cup Circuit until 2011 when Kentucky Speedway was added and that is hopefully not going to be the last addition to the NASCAR circuit.