Should NASCAR come to Portland? Short answer: No

With a large crowd of enthusiastic race fans in Oregon for today’s Portland Grand Prix — the first major-league race in the Pacific Northwest in over a decade — some of you have been asking a great question: Should NASCAR race at Portland as well?

I’m admittedly biased because I live in Portland. And obviously, I have a heavy interest in NASCAR since that’s where I spend most of my time. So you might think I’d be waving my arms and saying, “HEY NASCAR! CHECK THIS PLACE OUT!”

But actually, I don’t think it would be a good idea for NASCAR to visit Portland International Raceway.

The track itself could probably put on a good show. It’s very short for a road course (1.96 miles) and has two long straightaways, which would favor NASCAR-style racing.

But the facility would have to get some major upgrades to meet the typical NASCAR standards.

There are no garages at Portland. Lower series like Xfinity and Trucks occasionally work from behind their haulers or under awnings, but Cup never does.

But I don’t even think Portland would be great for a Truck race (even though the series previously raced here).

Pit road, from what I can tell, isn’t long enough for a full NASCAR field and doesn’t have much room to expand. The safety setup — concrete walls, short runoff areas and low fences — look like a track which last hosted a major race more than a decade ago (which is actually the case here). And there’s hardly any on-site parking for fans — not to mention a lack of permanent bathroom/concessions structures.

The track is run by the City of Portland’s parks department, and it’s basically like racing through a nature preserve. It’s beautiful. And the asphalt surface itself is in fantastic shape.

But there’s just not a lot of the infrastructure NASCAR officials, teams, fans and media are accustomed to.

It works better for IndyCar, which races at several street circuits and has more experience showing up to places and setting up what they need to put on a successful race (hospitality chalets, race control, etc.).

That said, this event is shaping up to be a mega hit for IndyCar, so it’s understandable if NASCAR would want to race at an established circuit like Portland. But more of an investment would be required before that happens.