"Speedway At Nazareth" as written by and Mark Knopfler....
After two thousand came two thousand and one
To be the new champions we were there for to run
From springtime in Arizona 'til the fall in Monterey
And the raceways were the battlefields and we fought 'em all the way

Was at Phoenix in the morning I had a wake-up call
She went around without a warning put me in the wall
I drove Long Beach, California with three cracked vertebrae
And we went on to Indianapolis, Indiana in May

Well the Brickyard's there to crucify anyone who will not learn
I climbed a mountain to qualify I went flat through the turns
But I was down in the might-have-beens and an old pal good as died
And I sat down in Gasoline Alley and I cried

Well we were in at the kill again on the Milwaukee Mile
And in June up in Michigan we were robbed at Belle Isle
Then it was on to Portland, Oregon for the G.I. Joe
And I'd blown off almost everyone when my motor let go

New England, Ontario we died in the dirt
Those walls from mid-Ohio to Toronto they hurt
So we came to Road America where we burned up at the lake
But at the speedway at Nazareth I made no mistake


Lyrics submitted by redmax

"Speedway at Nazareth" as written by Mark Knopfler

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Speedway At Nazareth song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentSongs mean different things to different people, and not to minimize Rodan2000's interpretation, but to me this song clearly refers to open-wheel racing, mostly the CART series with some IRL thrown in (artistic license, I guess), and has nothing to do with Dale Earnhardt or NASCAR.

    First, Dale Earnhardt died in the first NASCAR race of the year in February 2001 in Daytona, before springtime and the first race mentioned in the song.

    Second, there's only one race in Indianapolis, Indiana in May, probably the most famous race in the world, the Indy 500. In 2001 that was an Indy Racing League (IRL) race, in which CART racers were allowed to compete, and one won the race.

    NASCAR does race at Indy, but in August.

    The other track locations in the song hosted CART races (except Arizona) in 2001, most also NASCAR. Toronto has a CART race but never NASCAR.

    For non-racing fans, the Brickyard is a nickname for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a reference to a time when it was actually paved with bricks. Gasoline Alley is the garage area.

    "So we came to Road America where we burned up the lake" - The Road America race runs at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

    Just a coincidence, but the winner of the 2001 CART race at the Speedway at Nazareth was Scott Dixon. Interesting (to me, anyway) on an album that features a song about the surveyor Jeremiah Dixon.
    Glenn1963on September 23, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIMO the text is about racing, yes, but the meaning of the song is different. The racing season where the text is about is a metaphor for... life.

    The beginning of the season (or life) is full of hope, a new chance is there. You have a long way to go to archive happiness.

    The first things don't come easy. Once you realize that, that's the wake-up call. Then there is the struggle to make things better, but at first, you don't succeed. You'll get the three-cracked-vertibrae.

    Then it all goes on, and it seems to get better, but some people dear to you may get lost... And then you see the improvement...
    You'll get better, almost get your successes that you need so badly, and the joy in life, but not quite, your motor let you down... But you're still strong, and the last few knocks don't really bother you... Because at the end, at the Speedway at Nazareth, you made no mistake... You won, and everything was complete.

    Conclusion: The meaning of the song, is that at the end, everything will be fine... Just don't give up!!
    And this because of this moral it is my all-time favorite song.
    davidsmiton February 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe album "Sailing to Philadelphia" was released in 2000, so a song about the 2001 season was fiction. The song is actually based on the 1994 CART racing season. The circuit changed the sequence of races every year and the only year that went from Phoenix to Monterrey in the order described in the song was 1994. CART did the Indy 500 until 1996. There were no reported serious injuries in the 9 crashes during 1994 Indy race, but in 1995 Stan Fox was critically injured. Knopfler got much of his background information from Swedish racer Stefan Johansson who ran the CART circuit from 1992 until it folded in 2003. Johansson had a successful CART racing career even though he never won a race. I agree the song has allegorical implications, as do many other Knopfler songs.
    danltdon June 14, 2006   Link
  • +1
    MemoryI saw Mark June 12, 2010 in Helsingborg, Sweden on the Get Lucky tour. (Great concert!) He introduced Speedway at Nazareth by saying that it is a song he wrote about a very good Swedish friend.
    mjson July 10, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is one of my favorite songs. its actually about Dale Earnhardt, and when he crashed into the wall. its a great song, and is one of theose Mark Knopfler thigns that only he can do, about remembering aperson like Boom LikeThat is about McDonald's (more specifically the guy who brought it over seas), and Sailing to Philidelphia is about the Mason Dixon Line.
    Rodan2000on October 16, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI appreciate Glenn1963 clearing up the whole NASCAR/Earnhardt confusion. This song is about the 2001 CART racing season. It is fictional though. No one ran at Long Beach with "three cracked vertebrae" that year, or any year that I could find in extensive research. But, I do believe Mark Knopfler did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the CART driver mindset. The season is a grind, with mishaps and blown motors ruining your run when all else seems to be going well.

    The championship chase is largely a survival and endurance ordeal for the mid to lower-echelon car/driver teams.

    The reverence for Indy is right on target. There is so much to learn from every veteran you can corner for a beer or coffee, and every practice lap. Try going 230mph and make a nano mistake - you are toast.

    Scott Dixon ran in the CART races in 2001, but his victory at Nazareth came in early May (6th), before Indy. He finished on the lead lap at Toronto and Mid-Ohio, so he must not have hit the wall hard enough to make it hurt.

    But, as a fan of open-wheel racing, I must congratulate Mark on giving me a glimpse of the grind that drivers feel as they go through a season. Just to keep at it and take away the one time you made no mistake as the shining moment, that is why so few can do what these guys do. (Sorry, Danika).
    TruthSleuthon October 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdavidsmit: love your take on this song. it's so much more meaningful than just saying it's about racing.
    myimaginarybandon September 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere was a Nazareth speedway in Nazareth PA in 2001 it was torn down. Why? I don't know.. but I think it has something to do with that since the type of cars he raced, raced there.
    fenderpaman16on May 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe song is great even if it is not historically accurate. as a midwest u.s. racing fan it is cool to hear all the tracks mentioned. a great story.
    joeton80on June 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNazareth, Pa. is where the Andretti family lives. Mario is an icon of American racing. There are references to CART, IRL and dirt track racing. All are forms of American racing that the Andretti family has vast experience in. Best song I have ever heard about racing in the USA.
    Mike12on June 24, 2009   Link

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