What Is the Coca-Cola 600?

What Is the Coca Cola 600

The Cup Series is the most prestigious in NASCAR competition, and the Coca-Cola 600 is one of the crown jewel races of the season. The longest race on the schedule, a win at the Coca-Cola 600 is a major accomplishment for any driver and one that is sure to get attention. One of the races in the Cup Series is the Coca-Cola 600. Read on to learn all about the Coca-Cola 600.

Basic Information:

  • Venue: Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Location: Charlotte, NC
  • First Race: 1960
  • Distance: 600 miles
  • Laps: 400
  • Most Driver Wins: Darrell Waltrip (5)
  • Most Manufacturer Wins: Chevrolet (25)

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Charlotte Motor Speedway has been the host of every Coca-Cola 600 race since the event’s inception in 1960. The course was created by a joint group led by Curtis Turner and Bruton Smith with the hopes of attracting a big-time racing event to the Charlotte area. In the spring of 1959, the project was started with the hopes of hosting an event on Memorial Day weekend in 1960, approximately one year later. Unfortunately, a snowstorm in the spring of 1960 forced construction and the resulting race to be postponed. Eventually, the inaugural race was held at the Speedway on June 19th, 1960. Since then, the race has been held 63 times, with a rich legacy left on the sport.

History of the Coca-Cola-600

Over the course of its 63 runnings, the event has gone by several names. It was originally known simply as the World 600 from 1960 to 1984 and went by the Coca-Cola World 600 for just a year in 1985. Since 1986, the race has been known as the Coca-Cola 600. This is with the exception of 2002 when it was briefly called the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600.

The Coca-Cola 600 was invented because NASCAR wanted to compete with the IndyCar Series’s famous Indianapolis 500 race that took place every year on Memorial Day weekend. That is why the original plan was to host the first race on Memorial Day weekend in 1960 before the surprise weather delay. Due to various circumstances, the first few Coca-Cola (then World) 600s did not compete directly with the Indy 500. The first time the two races took place on the same day was in 1974.

Even though the race was designed to be a competitor to the Indy 500, many drivers have raced in both races over the years. This happened quite a bit early on when the races occurred in the same week but not on the same day. From the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, this became impossible due to the races starting at similar times on the same day.

Starting in 1992, when lights were installed at Charlotte Motor Speedway, drivers began to push to start the race later in the day due to the intense summer heat and humidity in North Carolina. Eventually, the race was settled on a start time of 5:30 PM. Since the Indianapolis 500 started earlier in the day, drivers had enough time to race the Indy 500 and hop on a plane and fly to North Carolina for the Coca-Cola 600. While this was more popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, only one driver has done so since the race was moved back to noon in 2011 (Kurt Busch in 2014).


Notable Winners of the Coca-Cola-600

In the 63 of the Coca-Cola 600, 35 different drivers have won the race. Of those 35, 16 are multi-time winners. The driver with the most victories is Darrell Waltrip, who won the event five separate times. Waltrip was the champion in 1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, and 1989, thus winning back-to-back titles two times. Other legendary multi-time winners include Jimmie Johnson (four), Dale Earnhardt (three), Jeff Gordon (three), and Richard Petty (two).

Future NASCAR champions David Pearson (1961), Jeff Gordon (1994), Bobby Labonte (1995), and Matt Kenseth (2000) all claimed their first victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Other notable drivers to get their first victory here are Casey Mears (2007), David Reutimann (2009), and Austin Dillon (2017).


How does the Coca-Cola 600 work?

The Coca-Cola 600 is a race that is a part of the NASCAR Cup Series. Drivers who compete in this series qualify for races by setting lap times in qualifying sessions. In the Coca-Cola 600, drivers drive 400 laps around the track for a total of 600 miles, and the driver who crosses the finish line first is the winner.