Day and Night
This year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule
features Richmond International Raceway’s
first race on a Sunday afternoon instead of its
traditional Saturday night.
How does the change affect fans? It de- pends on their favorite tailgate time. Some fans prefer to attend night races, like at
Daytona International Speedway, Charlotte Motor
Speedway or Bristol Motor Speedway, while others
prefer afternoon races and being able to get home
earlier. With Richmond now featuring one day race
and one night race instead of two night races, fans
who visit the Virginia short track have to decide: Is it
worth getting up hours earlier to set up a tailgate?
Some, according to social media posts on Twitter
and Facebook, are fine with moving the race to the
afternoon. Not everyone, however, is convinced
afternoon start times make tailgating easier – particularly those who travel long distances to tracks.
“Getting up at 8 a.m. for an afternoon race cuts
some of the time away [from tailgating],” said
James Tyler, a New York native who’s made the trek
to Richmond for night races. “A lot of the fans’ stuff
is going to be rushed, whereas before we could take
our time. It’ll be an adjustment for some of us, but
we’ll have to get used to it. You’ll just have less time
to tailgate on race day.”
For fans wanting to tailgate at Richmond Interna-
tional Raceway, getting to the track earlier will be
only one new facet of their experience this year. The
track plans to remove its backstretch grandstand,
reducing seating capacity to 60,000. That equates
to earlier tailgates and fewer tickets. It’ll definitely
be different when April rolls around.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU
BEEN A RACE FAN?
I got into it when I moved to
Darlington in 1999.
WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST
The 1999 Southern 500. I
was in the stands that year.
I’ve had a spot in the infield
WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE
It was Rusty Wallace and
Jeff Burton. Now, I don’t
really have one. I like a lot
WHAT MAKES A GOOD
Good food, good people
and good facilities.
WHAT CAN FANS FIND
AT YOUR TAILGATES?
We’ll do hot dogs, barbeque
chicken and wings. We mix
it up. Sometimes we’ll boil
peanuts. It depends on what
mood we’re in the week
before the races.
HOW MAN Y PEOPLE
SHOW UP TO YOUR
A good deal. The last race
[in September], I had to go
buy 10 more tickets. We’ll
get 10-20 people but some
people come in and out.
It’s a base camp for a lot of
Why settle for a
regular spatula when
perfectly good steaks
and chicken breasts
could have your
favorite driver’s car
number on them?
Sportula, an Indiana-based company, manufactures stainless steel spatulas with laser-cut logos.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88, Tony Stewart’s No. 14,
Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 and the No. 24 – of Jeff
Gordon or Chase Elliott, whichever you prefer – can
be found on the Sportula site.
If you’re looking to spice up your tailgate and
show off to friends, nothing beats a fresh, grilled
chicken breast with a big car number in the middle.
It’s a hungry race fan’s dream.
■ The NASCAR season kicks off in February at Daytona
International Speed way, so fans will pack into Daytona
Beach, Florida, all month. For something fun to do,
check out the Daytona 500 Experience, located just
outside the speedway. It features all-access tours, interactive videos, motion simulators and plenty of racing
memorabilia. You can even participate in a live pit stop.
■ Nothing gets a fan’s adrenaline going better than stepping
away from the fan side of NASCAR and into the driver’s
seat. The Richard Petty Driving Experience lets fans strap
into Sprint Cup Series race cars and wheel them at 18 different tracks across the country, including Daytona, Charlotte Motor Speed way, Indianapolis Motor Speed way, Las
Vegas Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
■ It’s never too early to start planning for Christmas.
Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speed way
illuminate the night with holiday–themed lights. You can
drive around Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval while looking at
massive Christmas lights while listening to Christmas
music. That’s worth building a schedule around, isn’t it?