Monday, May 28, 2007

More NASCAR observations

For the second weekend in a row, I found myself at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for a major race. A freelance assignment brought me to the track Sunday during the Coca-Cola 600.

First of all: Wow. I thought the crowd was impressive last weekend for the Nextel All-Star Challenge. Turns out that’s somewhat small potatoes compared to the estimated 180,000 on hand for the 600.

Last week, I marveled at how easy the traffic flow was around the speedway before the race. Not so for the 600. Who knew that by aiming for arrival around 2:30 p.m. before the 5:30 race, I’d be hitting peak traffic time? I allowed 90 minutes for a drive that’s normally 20, but it took nearly 2 hours.

I did learn that it pays off to study your map and learn a "back way" so you don’t need to rely on two exits off Interstate 85 as your only options. I cut over to Highway 49 and came in via Morehead Road, which seemed marginally quicker than the stop-and-go traffic on U.S. 29.

Also, I had the chance to observe from the infield. I can see why people shell out for the passes that allow them to wander around the Pit Row area. You get nice up-close views of the drivers and crews as they walk by – and feel sympathy at seeing the fireproof suits they have to wear in the Carolina heat. (I saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. reject adult autograph-seekers but sign his name for children; I also saw Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory chatting with team owner Rick Hendrick).

Another advantage to the infield: It’s not nearly as loud there as it is when the engine roars echo up into the stands.

It was difficult from there to properly observe the much-touted aerial stunt in honor of the "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" movie – but I did get nice up-close views of the four stars, including Jessica Alba and my personal fave, Ioan Gruffudd. (Never heard of the Welshman? Click here to see his accomplishments).

Though I didn’t have the endurance to stick it out for the entire race, I considered it a great day and an experience I was glad to have. I continue to recommend Lowe’s Motor Speedway as a must-visit place for newcomers who want to understand what this area is all about.

If any newcomers out there attended their first NASCAR race during the past two weeks, I'd love to hear your impressions - post here or e-mail me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liegh I noticed that KEVIN BUSh the race car driver gave his opinion about the ROADS here; I am in his pit crew and I will tell you all these roads need a Governmnet grant , toll roads or something quick; Remember Charlotte when it was bumper to bumper years ago and one overheat or accident and it was, your not getting to work that day at all. Thats what Charlotte is starting to get to again; I dont think they use their taxe base money wisely here ; The Outerbelt isnt even finished after 22 years and its costs more every year , prices are not going to get cheaper.If you tout people to come here from other States you ned roads Plain and simple.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just wait until the NASCAR MESEUM gets built and 240 thousand People come here at once on opening day! think about it the DOWNTOWN AREA and where will they park ? there is nop parking downtown . And how will ZPeople who have to be downtown to work like it when BANK OF AMERICA employees are all late that day alone; Charlotte dont think things out before they leap.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the time the nascar museaum is finshed all of Bank America's (Ha!!) jobs, except for top management will be in India so they can rent out their parking.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:36/7:40, if you were really in his pit crew, you'd at least know the driver's name is KURT Busch. It's a shame you feel the need to spew your venom in multiple posts on multiple blogs. You're extremely tiresome.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL @ Kevin Bush. Nice attempt.

Anyway, darnit I don't want everyone knowing about the back way to the speedway that'll just make it that much harder next year to sneak in and out in record time.

I'm glad you had fun at the race. It is a great place to be. Now that I live here though I usually skip the 600 opting instead to attend the All Star, Truck and Busch races. The 600 is just too long of an experience for me out in the heat. I did get to the track on Sunday in order to say happy birthday to one of my drivers on the Toyota stage but besides that I was home watching the race by 5:30.

1:38 PM  
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8:11 AM  
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8:13 AM  
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