You may think Charlotte, N.C., is the heart of NASCAR racing action, but you’d be wrong. Like many other NASCAR racing stops on the circuit, Charlotte gets the glory because it’s the largest metro city in close proximity to the track. The same could be said for Atlanta (actually in Hampton, Ga.) or Phoenix (actually in Avondale, Ariz.). But Charlotte Motor Speedway is actually in Concord, N.C., home to not only the NASCAR track, but also an NHRA dragway and a dirt racing track, as well as several racing attractions. Once you visit, you’ll agree that Concord is, indeed, “where racing lives.”
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Obviously the city’s biggest draw, Charlotte Motor Speedway is home to several NASCAR events, including the Sprint Cup’s longest race of the year – the Coca-Cola 600 – and the series’ All-Star Race. The track also hosts a number of other sporting events like World Karting Association races and weekly events featuring Legend Cars and Bandoleros. In addition, the track welcomes visitors to come tour the facility, climb into a race car for a ride-along or driving lessons, and shop at the onsite gift shop. When the race cars are silent, visitors can still visit the track for special events like Speedway Christmas, where visitors can see more than 1 million lights on display along with a Christmas Village filled with family-friendly activities like a petting zoo and photos with Santa.
When owner Bruton Smith said he was going to build a dragway unlike any other, no one really knew what to expect. What drag racers and fans got was the first-ever four-lane dragstrip. That’s right: four cars racing head to head at the same time. There’s nothing like watching, hearing and feeling four top fuel dragsters racing down the track at the same time, churning out more than 8,000 horsepower at speeds at more than 300 mph. While the track is home to a number of events throughout the year, its biggest events are the two NHRA Drag Racing races that take place in the spring and fall. In the spring, you have the Four-Wide Nationals, where you can see four cars racing on the track at once, and in the fall you have the Carolina Nationals, where you’ll catch traditional head-to-head drag racing. And, unlike NASCAR races, fans can walk among the pits, where they can watch race teams work on the cars between rounds, take photos with their favorite racers and even receive autographs. It’s fun for the entire family!
The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sitting next door to zMAX Dragway and across the street from Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Dirt Track at CMS is a four-tenths-mile clay oval that hosts annual events with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. With stadium-style seating for 14,000, the track also hosts a Monster Truck event each year.
One of NASCAR’s most beloved racers, Dale Earnhardt was born and raised in Cabarrus County in Kannapolis. A seven-time NASCAR Cup champion, Earnhardt continues to be a fan favorite, even more than 15 years after his death in 2001 at the Daytona 500. Those who come to learn more about him can do so as they follow the Dale Trail, a path that takes fans through Earnhardt’s life at stops like Dale Earnhardt Plaza in Kannapolis, which features a 9-foot, 900-pound statue of Earnhardt, the Car Town neighborhood where Earnhardt grew up, and Curb Motorsports Museum, which houses the car Earnhardt drove in 1980 when he won his first Winston Cup Championship. Those wanting to follow the Dale Trail should start at the Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Visitor Center, where they can pick up a brochure and map listing the stops and detailed information on each.
Cabarrus County is home to five of NASCAR’s top motorsports teams, and each one welcomes visitors to stop by for a look around. These include Hendricks Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Steward-Haas Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, and Wood Brothers Racing. Check out the crews as they work on cars through viewing areas, learn the history of these storied race teams, and, of course, pick up souvenirs for your favorite drivers in the gift shops.
For more information on these racing attractions or to plan your visit to Concord, N.C., talk with my friends at the Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Visitor Center. They can assist you with information, itineraries, tours, accommodations and dining recommendations.
Have you been to Concord, N.C., and visited any of these attractions? If so, which one is your favorite and why?
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