The Charlotte Motor Speedway complex in Concord, North Carolina includes Charlotte Motor Speedway, Z-Maxx Dragway, and The Dirt Track at Charlotte. The speedway is an asphalt track where NASCAR races occur. Z-Maxx is a great place to see drag racing and one of the only places where you’ll see cars raced 4-wide. And the dirt track shows off the cars that are specific to dirt racing–late models, modifieds, and sprint cars. The speedway and dragway have major events twice a year, and the dirt track hosts three major events a year in May, October, and November. I attend races at the complex at least twice a year, if not more.
Here are some tips if you plan to attend a race at the Dirt Track at Charlotte:
1. Plan to stay overnight. These are multi-day events and it’s a fun vibe. If you’re the camping type, the complex has huge campground facilities perfect for motorhomes and travel trailers. If you’d rather stay in a hotel, there’s a section of hotels along a circle between the interstate and the complex. Book early as these fill up fast. Prices also go up the closer it is to the event. I’ve stayed in most of the hotels in that section and they’ve all been really good. My favorite is the Springhill Suites by Marriott. This hotel offers suites that have a sofa that can fold out into a bed. It’s great in case a friend needs a place to crash, or if someone wants to join at the last minute. I’ve stayed at a few places outside of this area and they’re okay, but not nearly as nice or well-kept as the hotels near the speedway.
2. Pack a cooler. Unlike other sporting events, you can bring a cooler with you to the racetrack. No glass bottles, of course, and the cooler needs to be 14″x14″x14″ or smaller. You’ll save a bundle by bringing your own drinks and snacks. And yes, you can even bring beer.
3. Wear comfortable shoes. There will be a lot of walking. The Dirt Track at Charlotte is a big facility. Depending on where you park and whether you decide to just be in the grandstands or get a pit pass will determine how far your walk will be.
4. Bring layers of clothing. May, October, and November is when these races occur and temperatures can fluctuate greatly. On my last visit, it was in the high 70s during the day and dropped to the mid-50s at night. Be prepared for anything.
5. Bring sunglasses and safety glasses. Dirt and dust will fly. Sunglasses are great during the day. And clear safety glasses will keep dust out of your eyes at night.
6. Fuel Up. On food, that is. If you’re trying to save money, get a bite to eat before the races at one of the local restaurants. Concessions at the track are pretty spendy. However, for the true fan experience, there’s nothing like a trackside hot dog. And the food is really great! I especially like the Italian Sausage and french fries. And funnel cakes. Yum. I also love grabbing a cup of hot chocolate when it gets chilly.
7. Bring a blanket or seat cushions. If you’ll be spending most of your time in the pits walking around, you may want to skip this so that you’re not hauling around a bunch of stuff. But if you’re spending most of your time in the grandstands, I definitely recommend it. The grandstands are aluminum, so they are as warm or cold as the air temperature. I don’t know about you, but when my butt is cold, I’m not happy. I generally bring a blanket so we can wrap up if temperatures drop. If not, we have extra cushioning on the seats.
8. Score some souvenirs. Trailers are set up in both the grandstand area and near the pit side grandstands. There are T-shirts, hats, checkered flags, and more.
9. Plan for traffic. Especially at the end of the race, everyone will be leaving at once, so traffic will be heavy. The speedway does a great job of directing and they even change the number of lanes on the main road to get things moving as quickly as possible.
10. Join the after party. There’s not really a party, but after the races you’ll find many drivers, teams, and fans at one of the surrounding restaurants. From what I’ve seen, the most popular is Twin Peaks. It is just a couple of miles away at the Concord Hills Mall. Hooters is also a popular spot. Everyone is really friendly and it’s a fun time.
I hope these tips help if you decide to attend a race. Do you have more tips to offer? Please leave a comment below.