the north face shops In the fast lane at NASCAR Hall of Fame
If life in the fast lane turns your gears, then Cabarrus County will get your heart racing.
The starting line is downtown Charlotte and a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The $200 million, city run facility opened in 2010 and boasting 13,945 square metres is the largest hall of fame in the United States and second largest in the world. Exhibits trace the roots of stock car racing back to the days of prohibition and pay homage to pioneers of the sport and modern day NASCAR icons.
NASCAR historian Buz McKim says Bill France Sr. came up with the idea for a structured racing circuit and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was born February 1948. It remains today a family business and advertising juggernaut.
Whereas most advertising in the 1960s was from local businesses, today more than 300 Fortune 500 companies are involved with NASCAR. It costs about $10 12 million a year to sponsor a race car and merchandising alone generates $1 billion annually. It a $5 billion business in North Carolina alone.
a good investment because of all the TV time and media exposure, McKim says. even a on Sunday, sell on Monday theory, where car sales would inevitably go up if your car won. said the hall highlights six generations of NASCAR: 1949 mid 1966, mid 1966 1980, 1981 1991, 1992 mid 2007, mid 2007 2012 and 2013 to the present.
The hall is jammed with eye opening static displays and exhilarating interactive stations.
The main hall features a winding track detailing the degrees of banking at different speedways used by NASCAR. Stock cars are tethered to the track and guests can step onto platforms to get a real feeling for how steep the banks are. Like the 33 degree banks at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
have to do at last 75 miles per hour (120 km/h) just to stay on the track at that degree, McKim says.
Thrill seekers head for the simulator machines providing a driver view of the action as cars travel just inches apart at almost 322 km/h.
The hall of fame changes it featured seasonal exhibits twice a year. The recent Rockin and Racin gallery highlighted the connection between music and racing: Guitars emblazoned with musicians favourite racing teams, cars driven by music legends including Marty Robbins and a KISS inspired racing suit worn by Ron Hornaday Jr. To this day, it common for music stars to sing the Star Spangled Banner prior to NASCAR races.
A 270 seat state of the art theatre is used for special events and regularly runs a documentary detailing the growth of the sport.
McKim says the debate over race car drivers being athletes never seems to end.
out there in incredible heat, racing 180 200 miles per hour (290 to 320 km/h), there no second stringer to take your place, there no halftime and every time you turn the wheel it life or death, he explains. mental energy required is incredibly draining and most drivers will lose 10% of their body weight during a race. They really are athletes. argument from Rick Hendrick, whose auto sales and repair empire generated more than $7 billion in revenue last year.
Hendrick branched out in 1984 to build the behemoth known as Rick Hendrick Motorsports. Its NASCAR team boasts a talent laden roster of top notch drivers including Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson.
Hendrick has 14 national series owners championships under his belt and his team is second in all time NASCAR victories. It employs 600 people.
The facility is open for free tours and a behind the scenes look at everything that goes into building and maintaining the race cars. The shop floors are clean enough to eat off! There also a museum and gift shop displaying Hendrick cars, safety equipment and team trophies.
In the distance there a constant roar as speedsters hit the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for practice and testing.
The speedway, built in 1960 at a cost of $1.25 million, is a series of three major tracks and four minor ones spread across 5,666 hectares. It even includes a condo complex.
Randy Huffman pilots a tour van through a maze of roads and infield tracks leading to the Sprint Series garage. He then radios for clearance to enter pit road.
winner of the first ever race here took home $27,000, muses Huffman as his foot slams the accelerator and launches the van onto the main track in front of 135,000 empty seats.
Soon the van is snapping at 24 degree corner turns as the speedometer climbs toward 240 km/h. Riders who only ever watched NASCAR on television are afforded the sensation of racing an oval.
The van zooms under the 330 ton video screen (lighted by 9,000,000 LEDS) before cruising into pit road and onto the Winner Circle area.
The speedway plays host annually to the Coca Cola 600, Bank of America 500 and dozens of other NASCAR series races.
And the place to been seen at the race is the Speedway Club with a glorious vantage point hovering above the straightaway.
The Speedway Club is open year round, dishing up certified Angus steaks and seafood fresh from the coastal Carolina waters. Produce and dairy products are sourced locally.
Laura, our server, says major race days crazy in the fine dining establishment as members of the club are seated at one hour intervals.
the winner usually comes up to the restaurant and poses for photos, she says. a lot of fun. That what makes NASCAR such a fan friendly sport the drivers are approachable and love to sign autographs. a mile from the track is Sea Life at Concord Mills shopping centre.