Saturday, August 27, 2011

My NASCAR-Filled Trip to North Carolina

Lake Norman

I know I said I was going to try “live blogging” from my weeklong trip to North Carolina, but it didn’t work out so well.  After the first day, the time I had to write at night quickly decreased, so I made the executive decision to write about everything – except for my visit to Richard Childress Racing, Childress Vineyard, Victory Junction Gang, and of course, the SPEED Studio – when I got home to make sure the quality of the article didn’t suffer from a lack of time to be properly written and edited.

As you may have seen, Saturday, upon arriving in North Carolina, I visited Richard Childress Racing, the Childress Vineyard, and Victory Junction Gang.  To see the complete article, click here. 

Sunday, I visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the first time.  To say I was impressed would be a complete understatement.  The facility was immaculate, the people were extremely friendly and willing to point you in the right direction, and the exhibits teach you a lot about the sport and its rich history.  My favorite part had to be seeing how our sport has evolved: in the cars themselves, the fans, journalism, and everything else you can think of.   It’s hard for me to pick a favorite exhibit from the Hall of Fame, but I’m going to say I was partial to iRacing, where I started fourth out of five cars and finished first against adults (let’s just say if I was a NASCAR driver, I would have a Kyle Busch attitude).  Heck, I don’t even have a driver’s license!  The hall with all of the Inductees was super cool too; you can learn more about them and their racing careers through their cars and their memorabilia.  Finally, my third favorite exhibit was “Glory Road,” which displays cars from NASCAR’s inception, all the way up to today’s cars. 

Monday was the highlight of my trip (besides Wednesday, but I’ll get to that later on).  As many of you have read, I was at the SPEED Studio for a tour and to watch Race Hub being filmed and visited Penske Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports.  (To read the full article, click here click here)  But my day didn’t end there; from the SPEED Studio, we headed over to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a tour.  The tour guide asked us if we were in a rush, and of course we said no, so he took our tour over to zMax Dragway and to the Dirt Track.  Included in the tour was: a lap or two around the 1.5-mile track, see the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series garages, take a ride on the infield road courses and down pit road, and a trip to Victory Circle…all for $9 for adults (13 and older), $7 for seniors (55 and older), military personnel, and children 12 and under.  Still, my day wasn’t over.  From Charlotte Motor Speedway, we traveled a few miles up the road to Roush-Fenway Racing.  After spending a half hour or so reading and looking at the cars, it was time for us to leave, but not without one more surprise; we saw none other than the “Cat in the Hat” himself, Jack Roush,  getting into his truck!  This little surprise concluded our busy day.

All the fun from Monday had to be balanced by Tuesday, which was spent looking at colleges.  It’s safe to say I love High Point University.  I’m seriously counting down the days until I can apply to go there!

Wednesday morning I had an early wakeup call since it was a three hour trip to Bristol for the Whelen Modified and Camping World Truck Series races.  This was my first trip to Bristol Motor Speedway and I was not disappointed.  As soon as we sat down in the stands, I was in absolute awe.  Honestly, I assumed it was going to be like every other track that I’ve been to – but it wasn’t.  From the altitude of the track to being able to see everything, I was hooked!  After missing the first half of the Whelen race for an Austin Dillon Q&A session, we grabbed pizzas and headed back to the stands to watch the second half.  I’m a rookie to the Whelen Modified Series and I think it’s safe to say I’ll definitely be paying more attention to that series from now on; awesome racing action, and quite a few young drivers with a lot of talent that will go far in NASCAR that people should keep an eye on.  The track was awesome during the day, but when the lights came on as the sun went down; it was a completely different atmosphere that I can’t quite put my finger on.  I’m sure you don’t want to read more of my rant of how amazing it was, so I’ll finish by saying it is one thing that every NASCAR fan should be able to go to!

Thursday marked my last day in North Carolina and it was a pretty low key day since we were exhausted from the long day before.  We went to Kevin Harvick Incorporated and Joe Gibbs Racing.  Again, both facilities were amazing.  I’m still amazed at the fact that these are race shops and are super clean.  For those who haven’t been to a race shop, they automatically think of dirt, grime, and a small, disorganized space.  In reality, it is the complete opposite. 

Now that I’m home, I will honestly say, coming home was disappointing.  I loved being in North Carolina and wish I could go back.  If you told me I could go back, I would be back there in a heartbeat…well, in at least ten hours.  This was one of the best vacations yet!

  • Richard Childress Racing/Childress Vineyard/Victory Junction Gang: click here
  • Hall of Fame: click here
  • SPEED Studio: click here
  • Penske Racing/Kyle Busch Motorsports/Charlotte Motor Speedway/Roush-Fenway Racing: click here
  • Kevin Harvick Incorporated/Joe Gibbs Racing: click here
  • Bristol Motor Speedway: click here

** If the links for the pictures don’t work, feel free to add me on Facebook to be able to see them.  Just let me know that and I’ll accept right away.  **

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