Down to the wire: Crews putting finishing touches on Speedway Christmas

Speedway Christmas brings together 4 million lights, 50 nights of fun and thousands of visitors for a can’t-miss holiday tradition
The biggest holiday light show in the Carolinas is just two days away from coming to life in Concord.
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 2:59 PM EST

CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - The biggest holiday light show in the Carolinas is just two days away from coming to life in Concord. For the 13th year, Charlotte Motor Speedway is hosting Speedway Christmas presented by Atrium Health. This year there are more than 4 million lights over a nearly four-mile-long road course. Crews are now on the last lap of setting up this big show right now.

“Six days a week, 10 hours a day with a big crew of people making sure we get set up on time,” Garrett Carter, Vice-President of Operations at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It’s all things Christmas for sure. We have 5 and half weeks of nonstop setup. Two days after the ROVAL this year we cleaned up all the rash from the race and we were setting up Christmas lights on the Wednesday after the race.”

And they’re just about there…just a little more digging, twisting, pulling, and checking millions of light bulbs.

“Every year we get bigger and badder and it’s fun,” Carter added. “Our staff really enjoys it, obviously it can be a little tough here and there to put it up, long hours, being in the cold, rain, at the end of the day we love it, it’s what we do.”

They’ve been challenged by the weather occasionally, and by the fact that this is a working race track where they sometimes need to stay out of the way. It’s the 13th year for Speedway Christmas and every year it’s gotten bigger, just like its reputation.

“Charlotte Motor Speedway is known for NASCAR, that’s 60 years of our DNA, but second to that anytime of year really is, you guys do the Christmas lights right, that’s coming back this year, right?” said Jonathan Coleman.

Coleman says 2020 was a significant year. It was the pandemic that forced the cancellation of many Christmas activities, but not Speedway Christmas.

“I think through the pandemic when there were less options of things to do to get out and spend time with the family, that gave us a bit more of a spotlight because we were something that was COVID safe and it opened up, I think, a lot of eyes to folks who might not have otherwise come out because there were other things going on,” Coleman added.

And while it may not look that impressive in the light of a sunny day…at night it becomes magical. And that’s why the workers have been on the job 6 days a week, 10 hours a day, for more than five weeks…to be rewarded with these moments.

“It’s fantastic,” Carter said. “Our crew, you can kind of see, even though how hard…their fingers hurt, their back may be hurting, their feet hurt, but as soon as you see the first car roll in and folks tell you how much they enjoy it and love coming to the show it makes all of that hard work good.”

Here are this year’s facts, by the numbers, for the country’s largest drive-thru, synchronized light show:

4 million lights: Creating a spectacular showcase of sparkle, the speedway has added lights this year, bringing the grand total to a mind-boggling 4 million. The theme of this year’s display – Santa’s Mountain – will see popular scenes from the jolly elf’s come to life in illuminated fashion alongside millions of LEDs synchronized to popular Christmas tunes.

3.75 miles: With lights strung throughout the infield, along portions of the iconic speedway and innovative ROVAL™, in the grandstands and under the concourse, Speedway Christmas guests wind through nearly four miles of illuminated magic as they take in hundreds of creative displays and lights synchronized to Christmas-themed music.

5,200 hours: A light show of this magnitude takes a sizable effort to construct. The speedway’s operation team has been hard at work since mid-October stringing lights, running power and testing the displays. In total, crews will rack up more than 5,200 work hours getting ready for opening night.

14,000 feet: Hundreds of light displays require plenty of extension cords. This year crews will use approximately 14,000 feet of cords to provide the power needed to bring the lively displays to life.

10: In addition to dazzling lights, the infield Christmas Village offers visitors a holiday oasis of activities, including photos with Santa Claus himself, kid-friendly rides, concession and warming up by the fire with roasting s’mores at one of the village’s 10 cozy fire pits.

16,000 square feet: Back by popular demand, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 16,000-square-foot HDTV will transform into a drive-in movie screen throughout the light show, playing holiday hit movies like “Elf,” “Home Alone” and “A Christmas Story” every Thursday through Sunday night. Click here for a full schedule of movie nights.

50 nights: Open nightly from Nov. 18 through Jan. 8, 2023 (closed only on Christmas Eve), Speedway Christmas will come to life for 50 nights throughout the season, providing families plenty of opportunities to take in the magic of the show. The Chirstmas village will be open every Thursday through Sunday night and the entire week of Christmas.

14 songs: Much of what makes Speedway Christmas so unique are the synchronized lights-to-music that fill much of the infield and concourse. Fourteen popular scores played in rotation bring the show to life as displays – some towering as high as 80 feet in the air – dance and glisten to the tunes.

Only 1: With millions of lights, a slew of popular Christmas movies playing on the speedway’s 16,000-square-foot HDTV and the return of the ever-popular infield Christmas village, there’s only one place families need to be this year to get into the holiday spirit – Speedway Christmas presented by Atrium Health.

CAR PASSES:

Speedway Christmas presented by Atrium Health will be open nightly from Nov. 18 through Jan. 8, with the exception of Christmas Eve. Tickets are sold per vehicle (up to 15 passengers), online or at the gate starting at $30 Monday through Wednesday and $40 Thursday through Sunday. For just $70, guests can skip the line and use the Express Lane, located at Entrance P off of Morehead Road.

For opening night, Eli Lilly will cover the cost of the first 250 vehicles through the general admission line. On Saturday and Sunday nights, Atrium Health will provide the first 250 vehicles with a commemorative Speedway Christmas ornament as a keepsake.

Tickets, schedules and more information are available online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or at the gate.