The track was built in the late 1800's for horse racing. The first auto race was an exhibition held here in 1901. Traditional auto racing events have been staged here since 1914.
In 1954, the track was modified for strictly auto racing (and not horses). The track surface was banked. Lights and guardrails were also installed. Over the next 14 years, the weekly racing program evolved from stock cars to modifieds to super-modifieds to sprint cars. The first annual Knoxville Nationals were held in 1961.
A wooden covered grandstand stood along the front stretch from 1917-69. Today, each straightaway features a large grandstand with a total seating capacity over 24,000.