Race season officially began Feb. 18 with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 in Florida. But you don’t necessarily have to go on a long interstate trip to enjoy the excitement of racing.

Pocono Raceway

Situated in the Pocono Mountains at 1234 Long Pond Road, Long Pond, it has the nickname “Tricky Triangle” because of the 2.5-mile track’s unusual shape.

“It’s the only racetrack in the Americas with three turns,” said Pocono Raceway President Ben May, revealing that the track’s designers copied distinct turns from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Trenton Speedway and Milwaukee Mile, and combined them on the same course.

In business for more than 50 years, the family-owned raceway hosts multiple national motorsports events, including two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, one Verizon IndyCar Series, one NASCAR XFinity Series, one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and two Automobile Racing Club of America Racing Series Presented by Menards events each year.

Tickets are on sale now for NASCAR’s Pocono 400 weekend June 1-3 and Gander Outdoors 400 weekend July 27-29. You can also buy tickets for the ABC Supply 500 Indy race weekend, set for Aug. 18-19.

Although May says that more than 80 percent of Pocono’s crowds come from Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York, race fans from all 50 states, and 22 different countries, have made their way to Long Pond. Making a weekend out of it, many of them opt to camp on the track’s infield. “I’m always the most jealous of our RV campers because they’re having a ball. It’s become a big part of our business, and our environment is so much fun,” said May, adding that Pocono has electrical hookups for RVs; race weekend block parties that feature live music and fireworks; a dog park; a soft play area for younger children; zip lines; go-karts; bounce houses; face painting and more.

Set to debut in May is a 5,000-square-foot inclusive playground designed for children of all abilities.

Pocono’s 11th annual Kids Day will be held during the July NASCAR race weekend.

Open from April to Thanksgiving, the racetrack’s calendar is filled with anywhere from 180 to 300 events each year, and not all of them are motorsports oriented. There’s the Warrior Dash, Lantern Fest, Tough Mudder and more. May said that the goal is to expand the 2,000-acre Pocono Raceway property’s use into an entertainment facility that’s able to present events like air shows.

Call (800) RACEWAY or check www.poconoraceway.com, www.facebook.com/poconoraceway, https://twitter.com/poconoraceway, www.youtube.com/user/poconoraceway and www.instagram.com/poconoraceway.

Dover International Speedway

Race fans also enjoy camping at the site of the famous “Monster Mile” at 1131 N. Dupont Highway, Dover, Del., which has a reputation for being “the world’s fastest one-mile oval” (and having a 46-foot “Miles the Monster” statue), with drivers turning laps at speeds up to 170 mph in less than 23 seconds. Originally an asphalt track, the race surface was replaced with concrete in 1995.

With a capacity for 85,000 people, it’s where the Firefly Music Festival is held.

The 2018 season starts with a jam-packed weekend May 3-6, with NASCAR XFinity Series, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practices, qualifying and races all scheduled to take place.

Must-do race weekend activities include the eight-acre FanZone; the free, all-ages Monster Fun Zone and the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza. There’s also live music in Victory Plaza; driver autograph and Q&A sessions and hospitality appearances (pick up the free “Outside the Oval” publication for what’s been planned); the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and track tours.

There are also bucket-list opportunities to climb inside a race car and zip around the Monster Mile with the “Mario Andretti Racing Experience,” “NASCAR Racing Experience” and “Richard Petty Driving Experience.”

Dover International’s Guest Guide and informative videos can be found at www.doverspeedway.com. For tickets call (800) 441-RACE. Also see www.facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway, https://twitter.com/monstermile, www.youtube.com/user/DoverIntlSpeedway and www.instagram.com/monstermile.

Grandview Speedway

This NASCAR-sanctioned, 1/3-mile, clay, sportsman stock car track at 43 Passmore Road, Bechtelsville, opened in 1963, originally as a venue for the Pottstown All-Stars racing club, which at that time was holding stock car races at Hatfield, Sanatoga, and Philadelphia Municipal/John F. Kennedy Stadium. Except for Grandview, all of those venues are long gone.

Among the reasons fans keep coming back is how close the seats are to the action, and interacting with the drivers, with the pits opening 15 minutes after each race. Some teams have sportswear available and some teams do giveaways.

The first event on the schedule is an “Eduro & Blast from the Past” at 1 p.m. March 24. Highlights include the new Bruce Rogers Memorial race April 7. The Thunder on the Hill Racing Series, which began in 1990, is back for another season starting May 27. One of the major modified races is the Forrest Rogers Memorial, named after the track’s founder, on Aug. 11. The Freedom 76 for modifieds — a 76-lap event that pays more than $20,000 to the winner and attracts more than 100 cars, all just trying to qualify — is set for Sept. 15.

For regular shows, adult admission is $15 (cash only), free to children 11 and under. Some special events will have increased ticket prices.

Visit www.grandviewspeedway.com or call (610) 754-7688.

Montgomery County Quarter Midget Race Club

Now in their 63rd year, this 90-families-strong club introduces children 5-16 to competitive auto racing with instruction, “rookie training,” and eventually putting them behind the wheel of small cars that can reach top speeds of around 45 mph.

“The quarter midget is truly one-quarter the size of a midget,” said club president and Douglassville resident Jeremy Gerber, referring to the adult class of four-cylinder, 300-400-horsepower dirt track race cars. “A lot of kids use the quarter midgets as a stepping stone (to midget racing). It’s a great program for kids not interested in football, basketball, baseball ... It promotes sportsmanship and equality. We have a fair amount of girls that race. Some of these girls are really, really good. The kids really work great together.”

A demo day for the curious will be held March 17 at the club’s track at 920 Township Line Road in Phoenixville. It begins with a flea market at 8 a.m. and drivers experiences starting at 10 (rain date March 18).

Races are free and open to the public and are held Saturdays April through November following the noon warm-ups, and Wednesday nights at 6:30 May through September. “It’s a good little family time out,” Gerber said, adding that the track’s Snack Shack offers burgers, fries, pizza, walking tacos, chicken tenders, mac and cheese, chicken patties, pierogies, hot dogs and different food specials every week. “Because we are family oriented, there’s no alcohol allowed.”

Their website is www.mcqmrc.com and the track hotline is (610) 960-4061.

Save the date

On April 10 at 8 p.m. Sellersville Theater 1894, 24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville, presents “Inside F1 Racing,” a program with Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett and racing icon Mario Andretti. Tickets are $75 and $125, with the option of a 6:15 pre-show meet and greet for $100. Call (215) 257-5808 or go to www.st94.com.

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