The Center of the NASCAR Universe
Trip Start Aug 08, 2010
69Trip End Nov 19, 2010
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Where I stayed
Tom Johnson camping Center
Then we took off for Charlotte under cloudy skies. After driving awhile, we then hit serious rain about a 20 miles from our destination. Then we spent about 30 minutes trying to find the RV park that was at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Complex. This is a gearhead's mecca! They have the big NASCAR speedway, a 1/5th mile track, a dirt track, and a four lane drag strip - yes - four lanes at one time! Once settled in, we ate some wings from Quaker Steak and Lube, and burgers and onion rings from Sonic down the street.
Today, we awoke to mist and light rain, but warm weather. After breakfast at Cracker Barrel (yes, Larry Kasper has been converted!), we took off for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It is in UPtown, Charlotte. They have a parking garage next door and a Buffalo Wild Wings adjacent to their facility - making things very convenient. Once inside, it was a well presented place. The gound floor had a fantastic display of key cars that have made NASCAR what it is today. They are displayed on a curving elevated racetrack that increases in slope as it curves. At two points, you can climb on the track and experience the slope - the most extreme being the Talladega's famous 38 degree track. They also show an excellent movie that captures the history and the reason why NASCAR is what it is - the fans and the racers.
On the transition to the second floor, they have a room that tells the story and shows key artifacts/cars of the first inductees to the HOF. Very humbling for those that have grown up around cars and NASCAR.
On the second floor, they have a great series of hands on displays that allow you to be a member of a pit crew and challenge another pit crew, to drive a simulator to qualify, and an in car simulator to race. There are several other exhibits that allow you to see up close what goes on behind and in front of the TV screen.
On the third foor, there are numerous artifacts and stories of many people who have contributed to the sport - from the early days to the present. There was a short film and the actual cars involved in the Yarborough - Pearson wreak that caused the sport to capture the attention of America and launched NASCAR on TV.
This is the place to go if you are a NASCAR fan or if you love cars.
After we left there, we headed for Hendrick Motorsports. I had been there once before when my brother, Steve, took my Step Dad and me there several years ago. The complex was huge then and is bigger now. We toured the museum and gift store and saw several of the cars that have made them what they are today. Then we went to the buildings where they finish assembling the four team cars for Jimmy, Jeff, Dale Jr, and Mark. Of course the garages are spotless and run very efficiently - an essential for generating EIGHT (now nine) NASCAR Championships.
By then, it was time to head back to the rigs for happy hour - this time with the beautiful sounds of race cars on the speedway next door hitting the redline. Awh - such sweet music!!!
Tonight we are under a tornado/thunderstorm watch, so we are keeping an eye on the sky.