Ah, May! Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, leaves are turning green, and Nascar is having fun. Nascar is always about fun, but for the next two weeks, our favorite folks in the Nascar world can have their friends and families around them. Lowes Motor Speedway is the home track for the majority of the teams.
Most of Nascar's teams are located in the greater Charlotte, NC area. Most are specifically located in Mooresville or Concord, or places like Huntersville. Ray Evernham's shops are located in nearby Statesville, and Richard Childress Racing is located not far away in Welcome, NC. Racing in Concord is a rare home stretch for Nascar. For two straight weeks, the drivers and crew and all the folks involved in the world of making cars go fast get to sleep in their own beds at night. They get to sit down with their families and friends and live like normal folks for a change, instead of nomads on the road.
These two weeks are especially good times for the long haul drivers that spend much of the year out on the road, driving race car haulers, team haulers, souvenir haulers all over the country every week. Think about how many people are involved in all these tasks. Also getting a needed break are the drivers of the motor coaches, who move the drivers' and owners' portable homes around the country.
Nascar racing is not only a big business, and a sport, but it's a way of life for the folks that make it all happen every week. Think about all the officials at every track every week. This is a rare chance for them to be in one place for two weeks straight in the middle of a busy season as well. It's not so much time off as it is time just to be home. Though the next two weeks will be busy ones, a lot of people will get to go home at night, instead of sleeping in a motel, or a hauler, or on an airplane going somewhere else.
I think one of the best aspects of May Days in Charlotte is the fact that a lot of family and friends will get to see their loved ones doing their jobs at the track. May is Nascar's 'bring your kid to work' day. Kids get to see their parents doing their jobs, which usually takes them out of town for a few days.
When you arrive at Charlotte this weekend, or next weekend, you'll probably be aware of somewhat of a holiday attitude around the track. It's old home week, and the racing will be as good as it gets. Tomorrow night, we will see a race that will pit all the drivers against each other as true competitors. There will be no saving the car when it comes down to the final laps. There is nothing to lose but pride. It's going to be a lot of fun.
The Coca Cola 600 is Nascar's marathon. 600 miles is a grueling race for all of the drivers and crews. The race will start in the daytime, and end late at night. Track conditions will change very much as the race unfolds. Loose will become tight, and crew chiefs will be scrambling to keep up with the changing track conditions to keep their drivers happy. Anyone who stays for the entire race will be exhausted when they leave the track. Drivers, crews, officials, and yes, even the fans. I've been to three 600's, and you will be worn out by the time you leave.
My best advice to anyone going to the 600 is to bring plenty of water and make sure you've got adequate protection for your ears. If you have kids, I would recommend that you have wax ear plugs as well as ear muffs. If you've never been to a race, you cannot appreciate just how loud these cars are. 43 cars going by at nearly 200 miles per hour will damage your hearing if you don't have protection. Even if you have premium sound connected to your TV at home, and you crank it up, you still will not appreciate the sound of 43 screaming racing engines. Take hearing protection. Trust me.
If you have kids with you, I would suggest that you sit in one of the non alcoholic sections, if at all possible. You will see fans who have imbibed a little too much, and will probably be shouting profanities at certain drivers. That might happen in the non alcoholic sections as well, but probably not as much. For the most part, Nascar fans are the nicest people you could ever meet, but there are always a few bad apples that spoil the cart for the rest of us.
Racing is fun, and tomorrow night should be about as fun as it gets. The 600 will be fun too, but there's way more on the line for the drivers and teams involved. Like I said, it's a marathon, the longest race of the year, and we will see who has been doing their homework, and who hasn't. Engines will blow, tires will let go, and drivers will hit the fence. You will see good racing at Charlotte, always.