Believe it or not, I am a huge fan of cars and especially cars that go really fast. This weekend is the fall race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of my favorite tracks without a doubt! CMS is located in Concord, NC, just outside of Charlotte.
As I’m getting things together to head out for the weekend I thought that it would be fun to share a few Do’s & Don’ts of attending a race just in case you ever want to see what the exciting world of NASCAR is all about…
Do plan for a long day…. And get there early! Parking can be a
freaking nightmare challenge at almost all tracks, so you’ll want to arrive early for a decent location. Otherwise you will be walking miles to arrive and leave. I’d rather be close and sit in traffic than walk forever after an already long day. Whether you are walking through the vendors and other off track activities, touring Pit Road or sitting in the Grandstands, you will have a long day. Walk around and catch some of the driver interviews around the track, indulge in a few of the corny games, check out the really awesome cars on display, and hang out by the broadcast area… you might see one of your favorite drivers or find yourself on TV. It’s all a part of the NASCAR experience!
Do stay hydrated. NASCAR may begin in February and run through early November, but long days, often extreme temps and the fact that you might drink (I do not) add up so keep your body refreshed and hydrated with plenty of water. I can assure you, water will set better in your gut than soda and booze which will make your day much more enjoyable.
Do bring your camera. There will be a lot of photo opportunities at the track for both you and your family. If you like to be adventurous with you photos, try shooting the cars as they pass at 175+ mph. That is a challenge I take EVERY time we are at the track.
Do take a large tote bag with you. This makes it easy for carrying around extra water, a camera, light snacks, and other track “goodies”. Oh yeah! You can’t forget the sunscreen. Apply when you arrive and throughout the day or you will have some crazy lines and a painful burn! Check the weather before you go; you may need to bring a rain jacket or poncho with you. Most tracks don’t allow umbrellas inside so you want to be prepared. My track bag is a Calvin Klein tote that I picked up at TJ Maxx three years ago, just for race weekends. It’s light, has a couple of pockets, and plenty of room to stash necessities that I might need throughout the day.
Do dress appropriately. I’m amazed and often embarrassed by what people (especially women) will leave home in. Seriously, dress appropriately. Cowboy boots and shorts so short you cheeks hang out are NOT appropriate. Trashy? Absolutely. Crop tops with your fat hanging over the sides of your shorts or pants? Please have a little dignity! Short little dresses with stilettos in the grandstands are NOT appropriate. The men may like you wearing it as everyone gets a full view of your derrière as you climb the stairs…. just don’t.
And men…. Your shirtless, tattooed pot belly is not attractive. I understand you want to buy your driver’s favorite shirt once you arrive at the track, but wear something into the track that you can throw away. Please don’t come in half-dressed, showcasing a body that hasn’t seen the gym since
middle high school PE.
The wives and girlfriends of NASCAR’s elite are often dressed as if they walked off the stage of fashion week; chic sundresses, heels, large framed sunglasses, hair styled perfectly so that they are camera ready with their men. It looks out-of-place for a racetrack, but I do appreciate women who dress up. With cameras in their faces all day it’s only appropriate. While a more upscale look is acceptable for these ladies, it’s not as practical for the gal who is attending the race as a spectator (unless you are leaving your vehicle and headed straight to the air-conditioned suites for the race). So what do you wear for a long day at the track?
In the spring and fall, jeans and cute top are always appropriate. Add a pair of comfortable walking shoes, and even some cute accessories & fashionable sunglasses to finish your look. You can also layer your look as many races run into the evening. It may be warm as you tailgate and shop, but once the sun goes down (especially in late October), it can become extremely chilly. Leggings with a denim top and boots (that are made for walking) also make for comfortable fall race attire. In the warmer months I’m all about a long sundress (If I will be on Pit Road) or a great pair of capri pants and comfortable sandals.
Shorts are acceptable, but at 40-something I just don’t wear them except to the gym or beach. If you choose to go with shorts, be sure to bring along a beach towel to sit on as the bleachers or seats can really absorb some heat and burn your legs. Hats are good; not a big, floppy derby style hat, but a cute monogrammed cap. If there is a chance of rain, you will actually want a hat because your hair is going to fall flat, like it or not.
While there are fans who like to take things to the extreme, don’t be ashamed to rep your favorite driver. Since Mark Martin fully retired from racing a couple of years ago I haven’t just one favorite driver anymore, but occasionally your might find me wearing a ladies-cut Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick shirt with a cute pair of capris as we are hanging at the track. I like to dress-up a little more though when we are on Pit Road or in a suite.
Don’t drink too much. Seriously, save yourself and those around you the embarrassment and put down the alcohol. NASCAR can be fun for the whole family and personally I would rather my teenagers not reek of the beer you have tripped and split on them or hear your potty mouth. Now, if you want to be made fun of, feel free to act the fool because my husband and kids will have plenty of jokes to make at your expense.
Don’t be rude. It’s simple; everyone who is at the race is there to enjoy themselves. Don’t be that person who holds up the line at security with bags/coolers and extras that you probably should be bringing to the track. Each track website has rules of what is and what isn’t allowed. It takes five minutes to pull it up and read. Take the time to do it.
Also, if you do have the opportunity to meet a driver or grab a few autographs, don’t take up all the time so no one else gets a chance and for sure let the driver move on! With team meetings, driver meetings, media interviews, sponsor obligations and of course Driver Intos, race day is crazy busy for these guys and gals!
And have respect for those around you. It’s that simple. Just have fun without being uncivilized!
A few must-haves for race day:
Camera with a zoom lens
Binoculars (for an up close view of Pit Road action)
Scanner for listening to the crews communicate (Can rent at the track)
Earplugs, it gets LOUD
Snacks, although concessions are available
Lot’s of energy!