Every sport has its stereotypes. Stereotypes of fans, of atmosphere at a game and of the sport itself. NASCAR is no different. For years, those stereotypes have been repelling a certain demographic, who would stipulate it as redundant and rural. As it seems now, NASCAR is on a mission to change its image for the better, by doing what they do best, being NASCAR. On the surface, NASCAR is simple, fun and casual. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see it turns into much more than a sport of driving around an oval. It becomes a competition of engineering, calculation and details of such precision it’s almost, dare I say, art.
So when NASCAR asked us to come join them at a race for the Sprint Cup Series, we accepted, but wanted to do it right. A handful of our RSVLTS editors and staff came on the trip, keeping an open mind, by traveling via RV from NYC to one of the Mecca’s of competitive racing, Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500. Now be mindful, we’re journalists. But in the unique angle of this story, we felt obligated to “scrapbook” the visuals and give the reader the experience of our surroundings. We challenged NASCAR to make us fans.
After a full day of interviews with NASCAR officials, pit crew teams, and shadowing arguably the best up and coming driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., we gained a new found respect and awe in the lifestyle of the sport. The laid back, casual light of NASCAR is gaining fan loyalty and popularity. Fans casually interacting with the teams hours before the race is a virtually unheard of concept and foreign to followers of the big 4 sports. I think it’s safe to say you’ll never see Eli Manning driving around tailgates at Met Life Stadium in a custom golf cart before kick off. They’re building a loyal following based around personal access, creating memorable NASCAR-fan connections. That’s how NASCAR made 8 bros from New York and North Jersey fans of their sport. While we still may not watch 300 + laps, every race will definitely be in our weekend channel rotation of football games. Why? Because we need to see how Ricky’s doing. Isn’t that what a fan is, after all?
There she is, our home away from home for the next three days.
Not quite Budweiser but it’ll do…
Apparently Jell-O shots are a big tradition at Charlotte Motor Speedway so we made 125 of them. Over the course of the weekend we would come to find out that the green tequila shots are viciously strong.
If you’re staying in the infield at a NASCAR event, make sure you have something to balance the weight on top of your truck or RV, because you can’t get a better seat in the house. Throw a few lawn chairs up there, crack a few brews and you’re fine today. That’s the minimalist approach at least. We saw make shift rooftops that put the College Gameday set to shame.
Scott is having a tough time adjusting to the loud noises.
The RV crew.
Not that everything about NASCAR tailgating is centered around drinking, but when you’re with good friends what better way to do some outdoor drinking then with some beer pong. Amiright?
It was night #1 of our NASCAR experience so after a few drinks we decided to explore. This is what we came across…
Doritos, Jeff. Your southern style Grit Chip’s are Doritos.
Sports fans who oppose the idea of NASCAR being a sport are absolutely right. It’s an experience. Every week NASCAR rolls into another city with the best drivers in the game. You don’t get a Brown vs Chiefs game in this sport, but what they’ve done is made the actual race the tiny core that the immense experience surrounds. “NFL fans tailgate for three hours, NASCAR fans tailgate for three days.”
NASCAR superfan, Bubba Hammond, purchased this bus a few weeks after 9/11 and decorated it with the Stars and Stripes. He rode the bus to all the NASCAR events in the area to have U.S. soldiers come aboard and sign the roof.
Many of the soldiers left patches and other flair on the bus.
They allowed us to sign the roof but it took a minute to find a space, Every square inch is covered with the signature of brave Americans.
Bubba has even been recognized in the media for his incredible support of our troops.
They even asked me if I wanted a beer. Obviously how could I turn that down with my new friends.
Real f**king funny, guys…
Sadly, Bubba passed away on August 6th, but his sons and friends (above) are keeping the tradition alive by bringing the bus to all the races. These are the amazing people you meet at a NASCAR weekend.
Lil’ Sebastian of Parks and Rec loves it and so can you!
The day of the Bank of America 500 we got to take a lap around the track in the official Pace Car.
We topped out at 120 MPH and the G-forces were incredible.
Spoiler alert, Clint Boyer won the race a few hours later and we know why. He has a smokin’ hot blond in his pit crew.
Jimmie Johnson is one of the most dominant racers in NASCAR history and also topped Forbes.com’s Most Influential Athletes list for two consecutive years (2011, 2012).
Stopped by Jimmie Johnson’s pit…
and met some superfans!
Stopped back at Bubba’s bus to snap another pic.
We got to meet up with 2010 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year and 2011 Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Steinhouse Jr. gave us the ultimate hauler tour. These things are swiss army knives, full kitchen, back office, enough spare parts to build a separate car, not to mention second floor storage for 2 cars.
We got stranded and he also offered to give us a ride to the fan event. The custom golf car (with rims) is baller but he drives like a Grandma.
Then it was off to the Spint experience where he was interviewed by the beautiful and super friendly Miss Sprint Cup, Jaclyn Roney.
Ricky’s fan was in the house!
Miss Sprint Cup challenged Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to a hoolahoop contest. It didn’t end up well for her.
Almost race time, Ricky drove us back to the track and went off to prep. Which meant more exploring…
Race time! While all our bros were bust enjoying hour 15 of beer pong we headed down to Pit Row for the start of the race.
We decided to post up at Jimmie Johnson spot. Might as well hang with the best.
Jimmie has some good looking fans….