The excitement of the NASCAR playoffs makes its way to the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. But it’s not the only racing memories you’ll find in North Carolina, home of NASCAR and many of the teams that compete in its events.
Day 1: NASCAR Hall of Fame and Red Rocks Cafe
Start in Uptown Charlotte at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It’s where the sport’s biggest names are enshrined in the Hall of Honor. There's a lot to see, so take your time and stay at least an entire morning or afternoon.
Begin your visit at Glory Road, where 18 race-used cars – handpicked by guest curator Dale Earnhardt Jr. – are on display. The pitch of the exhibit changes through its length, each degree of banking marked and matched to that of an actual track.
If there's a NASCAR-affiliated track near your hometown, you should find something from it in the Heritage Speedway exhibit. It’s where you can trace NASCAR’s more than 70 years of history through trophies, uniforms, car parts and even pieces of pavement cut from tracks.
But looking is one thing, and trying is another. You’ll find interactive exhibits in the Inside NASCAR portion of the hall. You can build your own race car at the virtual painting booth, explore celebrated racetracks through photos and projections, and try out your skills as a NASCAR reporter. Fight the snap of an impact wrench at another exhibit as you spin off actual lug nuts. You can put it all together in a simulated pit stop, pumping the jack handle, changing tires and adding fuel to a race car all under the pressure of the stopwatch.
Day 2: Race Shops
The majority of NASCAR teams are based around Charlotte, and all are happy to have you visit them. Most offer viewing areas, where you can watch mechanics work. Start your day in Mooresville, where you’ll find Penske Racing. Climb the stairs and enjoy the view of the shop floor from the second-floor balcony.
In Concord, visit Hendrick Motorsports, about a mile from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Park your car at the team’s museum, where televisions play videos of Hendrick drivers sharing stories from their careers. Displays explain how a race car and its engine work. Race cars on exhibit will take you from the team’s one-car beginnings to its current four-car dynasty. When you’re done, take a short walk up the hill to the shops and peer through huge windows at cars being prepared for Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott and William Byron.
If you're in town early to mid-week, head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for its race week festivities. Tours are offered multiple times a day leading up to race weekend.
Day 3: Hot Dogs, Cookies and Wine
Drop your trip into low gear and spend the day outside of the Charlotte region. After a 90-minute drive, you can arrive in Winston-Salem for lunch, a perfect time to stop at Pulliams Hotdogs & BBQ. It doesn’t look like much – a small green-and-white-striped building in a gravel parking lot – but inside is a heaping helping of racing history and the best hot dogs in the South, according to editors at celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s magazine. The regulars like them “all the way” – mustard, onions, slaw and chili. Former NASCAR CEO Bill France Jr. loved them so much that he would divert his corporate plane to Winston-Salem so he could pick up a few on the way to a race. Eat your hot dogs at the stainless steel counter – they don’t have tables – while you look at the photos and memorabilia from racing past.
While in Winston-Salem, if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, visit the historic Moravian Culinary Trail. Several renowned bakeries, including one that’s been around for more than 200 years, create cookies and cakes that make perfect souvenirs. For another taste of local culture, stop by one of the city’s popular craft breweries.
If you'd rather skip the breweries, on your way back to Charlotte, take US Highway 52 south from Winston-Salem to Lexington. That’s where you’ll find Childress Vineyards. Owned by former NASCAR driver and current team owner Richard Childress, this destination allows you to sample chardonnays and merlots in the tasting room and purchase your favorites to take home.
Day 4: Bank of America Roval 400
The Bank of America Roval 400 is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. Avoid heavy traffic by heading to Charlotte Motor Speedway early. The heaviest traffic is usually on Bruton Smith Boulevard and both ways on Interstate 85 from its exit, so try NC Highway 29 or 49 to get to the track. One option that eliminates the traffic altogether is arriving a day or so earlier and staying in an RV at the track campground.
Getting to the track early will give you time to pick up souvenirs from your favorite driver’s merchandise trailer and soak in the atmosphere. The track is known for its prerace activities, which have included mock military invasions and stunt shows.
You won’t miss any action, no matter where your seats are located. The track is home to one of the world’s largest high-definition television, which measures 80 feet tall and 200 feet wide.