For 2023, the NASA Championships is headed to Pittsburgh International Race Complex, one of the newer racetracks in the country. Renowned for its verdant grounds, its buttery-smooth asphalt with wonderful elevation changes, blind rises and challenging corners, PittRace is an ideal stage for a National Championships showdown.


Because PittRace is a 21st century track, there are no tales from the glory days when Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney or Bobby Rahal raced there or of some outlandish last-lap pass by Alex Zanardi. The 2023 NASA Championships are going to create history at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

Pittsburgh International Race Complex opened in 2002. Its original configuration, now known as the North Track is 1.6 miles long. Designed by Alan Wilson, the North Track was all there was when Jim and Kathy Stout bought the facility in 2011. It was a layout that Stout found boring, as did other racers he knew.

Since the couple acquired Pitt Race, they have added the South Track, which when combined with the North Track, makes for a 2.78-mile-long “full course” configuration. A quick Spec Miata laps the full circuit in about 2:08.

What drivers in the regions surrounding the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area know is that Pitt Race is one of the most entertaining tracks in the country. Pitt Race has a challenging layout with tricky turns of varying speeds, blind rises and elevation changes that add to the fun. The Stouts not only added the South Track, but also repaved everything while they were at it. The result is an excellent racing surface with usable curbs and ample runoff — perfect for NASA Championships-caliber competition.

Getting There

The most obvious and closest airport is Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). It is a major market airport, so flights in are readily available, although you might have to layover somewhere, and rental cars from the major vendors are plentiful. Use your NASA Member Benefits discount when booking with Avis or Budget.

Turn 1 is a downhill left-hander the empties onto a rising bend that forms Turn 2 and a straightaway to turns 3 and 4.

If you’re headed to the track from PIT, take Interstate 376 West to Interstate 76 East to Homewood, then north on Highway 18 to Penndale Road, which takes you right to the track.

If you’re headed from PIT to your hotel in Cranberry Township, take Interstate 376 East to Interstate 79 North, which takes you right to Cranberry Township.

Alternatively, if flights are cheaper, you can fly into Cleveland (CLE) and Columbus (CMH), Ohio, but rather than a 30-minute drive to the track, you’ll be driving for a couple of hours.

If you’re staying at the track, there are reserved spaces available as well as free parking at the track. Spaces with power have a wait list currently, but there are still reserved spaces available.

Buttermilk Falls State Park is just south of PittRace on Hwy. 18 in Beaver Falls.

Staying There

There are hotels close to the track on Highway 18, but the selection and quality is better at locations a bit farther from the track. This part of Pennsylvania isn’t real “touristy,” but there is a good selection of chain hotels south and east of the track, and of course, you can always take a deep dive into VRBO or AirBnB if you’re looking for houses. The bulk of your hotel options are in the Cranberry Township area.

Turn 5 has a steep uphill climb at corner exit on the way to the back half of the track.

Eating There

Racing can make you work up a big appetite, and there are a lot of good options fairly close to the track. El Paso Mexican Grill in Beaver Falls offers all the traditional dishes from south of the border. A Pittsburgh staple, Primanti Brothers in Cranberry Township is a Pittsburgh staple, almost famous since 1933, as the saying goes. Check out its signature sandwiches, which comes with French fries right on it.

If you’re looking for a reliable local chain, Eat ‘n Park in Cranberry Township offers breakfast, lunch and dinner and traditional American fare and all manner of desserts, including their iconic smiley cookies. Down in Cranberry Township, Mad Mex offers dine-in and takeout meals, including its namesake burritos and its signature Mad Bowls. Just east of Cranberry Township is Breakneck Tavern in Mars, Pa., which offers “sustainably crafted beer, food and cocktails,” including shrimp and grits and crab cakes. If you’re looking to do some driving after the day’s driving is done, the Smiling Moose in Cranberry Township has some great pub grub with a golf driving range out back.

Just south of the track on Highway 18, Al’s Corner is a one-stop shop for quick homemade meals, sandwiches, pizza and burgers, and gas pumps out front. Harry’s Place on Hwy. 51 in Darlington, Pa., doesn’t have a website, but it does have yummy ribs. If you’re looking for something to go with your morning coffee,  Oram’s Donuts in Beaver Falls has all kinds of donuts and its famous cinnamon rolls.

Driving There

We’ll be publishing a turn-by-turn tutorial in an upcoming issue of Speed News, so look for that in the coming weeks. The point of this segment is to highlight the best part of the 2023 NASA Championships, and that is the track itself.

As you exit the last turn onto the front straight, a slight rise gives way to your sightline to the Start/Finish line. Take the green flag and dive into Turn 1, a tricky downhill left-hander that empties onto a slight rise with a Turn 2 bend to the left onto the straightaway that leads to turns 3 and 4, which might remind you of the Corkscrew at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Turn 5 is tight downhill bowl with a tricky entry. Lots of camber and a steep uphill exit. Turns 7 through 11 are essentially some of the finest esses in the country. Turns 12 and 13 are critical to get right because they lead to the blind Turn 14, which empties onto the long back straight with high-speed turns 15 and 16. Turn 17 is the slowest turn on the track, but it sets you up for the front straight, which includes turns 18 and 19 Here’s a good example of a hot lap at Pitt Race.


The Facts

Pittsburgh International Race Complex

201 Penndale Road
Wampum, PA 16157

Primanti Brothers

200 Executive Drive

Cranberry Twp., PA 16066


 Eat ‘n Park

19085 Perry Highway

Mars, PA 16046


Mad Mex

20510 Perry Highway

Cranberry Twp., PA 16066


Breakneck Tavern

273 Mars Valencia Road

Mars, PA 196046-2723


Smiling Moose

8032 Rowan Rd,

Cranberry Twp., PA 16066


Al’s Corner

7412 Big Beaver Boulevard
Koppel, PA 16136


Harry’s Place

109 E Palestine Rd #2125

Darlington, PA 16115


Oram’s Donuts

1406 7th Ave.

Beaver Falls, PA 15010

Images courtesy of Brett Becker and Primanti Brothers

Join the Discussion