Dover International Speedway and Dover Downs Hotel & Casino unveiled two new Delaware historical markers during a ceremony and luncheon on Thursday, kicking off the Monster Mile’s May 3-5 NASCAR tripleheader weekend as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary.
Delaware Gov. John Carney, NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, Dover Motorsports, Inc. President and CEO Denis McGlynn, State Rep. William Carson, Twin River Worldwide Holdings Executive Chairman John Taylor and Delaware Public Archives Director Stephen Marz spoke at Thursday’s press conference that celebrated the long history of the dual-purpose auto racing and harness racing facility, which opened on July 6, 1969, with the “Mason-Dixon 300” NASCAR Cup Series race, won by Richard Petty.
The facility’s three founding fathers, Gov. David Buckson, Lt. Gov. John Rollins and Melvin Joseph, were represented at the ceremony by family members, as well as prominent placement on the markers. More than 650 historical markers have been placed statewide since the program started in the 1930s.
“We want to thank the Buckson, Joseph and Rollins families for their contributions to Kent County and the entire state of Delaware,” Gov. Carney said. “Fifty years is a tremendous achievement and we look forward to seeing what the future holds here at Dover.”
“It’s an honor to be here on behalf of NASCAR,” Helton added. “We congratulate everyone at Dover on their 50th anniversary milestone.”
The Dover International Speedway historical marker text is as follows:
The Speedway hosted its first NASCAR event, the Mason-Dixon 300, on July 6, 1969. Richard Petty won that race by 6 laps. The highly-banked, one-mile oval track was created, financed, and built by Gov. David P. Buckson, Lt. Gov. John W. Rollins, and Melvin L. Joseph beginning in August 1967. Nicknamed the “Monster Mile” for its punishing impact on cars and drivers, speeds on the track can reach 170 mph. The track surface was changed from asphalt to concrete before the 1995 racing season. Auto racing legends Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, David Pearson, and Cale Yarborough have all seen success at Dover.
The Dover Downs Hotel & Casino historical marker text is as follows:
Dover Downs began as a dual-purpose racing facility that featured a five-eighths’ mile dirt horse racing track built within the larger one mile racetrack of Dover International Speedway. Gov. David P. Buckson, Lt. Gov. John W. Rollins, and Melvin L. Joseph began jointly developing the facility on the former Thomas Murray farm in August 1967. The first harness racing card was held on November 19, 1969. Thoroughbreds also raced at Dover from 1969-1974. In 1995, Dover Downs expanded to include video lottery machines and in 2002, a hotel and conference center were also added to the complex. The May 3-5 NASCAR tripleheader weekend includes the “Gander RV 400” Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, May 5, the “Allied Steel Buildings 200” NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash race on Saturday, May 4 and “JEGS 200” NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series on Friday, May 3 at the world’s fastest one-mile oval.
Funding for the historical markers was provided by the three state legislators whose districts border and encompass the Monster Mile: State Reps. Carson and Sean Lynn and State Sen. Trey Paradee.
Next to the speaker’s podium on Thursday, Dover International Speedway’s original pace car, a 1969 Oldsmobile 442, was on display with a golden Monster Trophy, which provided the backdrop for dozens of photos for ceremony attendees.
In addition to the special gold Monster trophies given to the race winners and free 1:64-scale Dover diecast cars to the first 15,000 guests on Sunday, fans can also enjoy multiple free performances by the famous Harlem Globetrotters in the 8-acre FanZone (Sunday), a free Charlie Daniels Band concert on the Xfinity Stage in Victory Plaza (Sunday), free appearances by country music star John Rich (Saturday and Sunday), as well as Micro Wrestling Federation matches (Saturday and Sunday), Del Rods Car Club car shows (Saturday and Sunday), a Winston Cup Mobile Museum display, on-site NASCAR and sports betting (Sunday) and much more.
Keep up to date on all 50th Anniversary announcements and schedules by visiting DoverSpeedway.com or calling (800) 441-RACE. You can also keep up with all track activities at Facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway, or on Twitter and Instagram at @MonsterMile.