I would most definitely not consider myself a race rookie, but on July 31, I most certainly was - I went to my first Bandolero and Legend races at Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series.
The Summer Shootout Series is on Tuesday nights during the summer on the quarter-mile oval situated on the front straightaway. Admission is only seven dollars for adults and children under thirteen are free with a paying adult. There are other things to do; you can go check out the Charlotte Motor Speedway gift shop (I've been there maybe once or twice…), get something to eat, and if you have children, there are plenty of things for them to do - there's even a bouncy castle, heck, I'm seventeen and I wanted to go play.
Let me start off by saying that Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of my favorite tracks - always has been. The first time I was there for a race was the 2008 All-Star Race when Kasey Kahne won (the Kasey fan girls will now go on their computers and look at those pictures…yeah, you know you're going to), and that was the last time that I was at the track for a race. Since then I've been back there for a track tour, but no races, no matter how many times I've asked to go to the All-Star Race. I digress. Going back to CMS was incredible; I didn't realize how much I missed being there until the orange, yellow, and pink sun sunk behind the clouds and the bright white lights came on, illuminating the track.
There were about twelve races that were twenty laps each (which is the equivalent of going around Pocono Raceway only twice). The racers were anywhere in age from seven to over fifty, which made for some insane racing. I was actually quite surprised and knew a few of the drivers participating in the races, which made it easy for me to pick who I wanted to win. One of the names I immediately recognized was Dakota Ratcliff. Does the last name sound vaguely familiar? Tick tock, tick tock. Time's up. Did you guess that he's Jason Ratcliff - Joey Logano's crew chief's- son? You did, good job, you get a gold star sticker. Dakota actually won his first race that night after dominating the twenty-lap shootout. You could definitely tell he comes from a racing family, just by the way he conducted his post-race interview; it sounded like an interview you would hear after a Sprint Cup Series race: he knew who to thank and in what order to thank them.
The races themselves were actually quite entertaining - dare I say more entertaining than the Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono? Yes, it was much better; anyway, that's irrelevant. I have to say, the little eight-year-olds know how to put on a good race! Between the lead changes and the passing, not a lap went by that was boring. Don't even get me started on the "crazy old guy" category. No, I'm serious, that's what they call them; it's a group of guys that are fifty-years-old and older that race their Legend cars. That was the best race of the night, there were wrecks (not bad ones), guys driving into the barrels, and a last-lap pass that caused a guy to lose the race!
For all you car buffs out there, there was a car show that night too. Not just any car show though, the car owners got to bring their cars into the infield and then drive them around the track. How cool is that?
If this article has sparked your interest and you live in the Charlotte area, be sure to check out the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series. There are only three nights of the Shootout left; one of them being tonight.
Sitting in the stands, I couldn’t help but think that one day, the kids I was watching drive their little Bandolero cars to Victory Lane would be the future stars of NASCAR; and hopefully, one day, they will be!