Hendrick Motorsports and Lowe's Motor Speedway - 2009
The day before we were heading to Myrtle Beach, television news reported fires in the area we were planning to visit. Due to Mary Lou's asthma, fire and smoke is not the best environment for her. So, we changed our route which took us close to Charlotte, North Carolina. Steve had suggested we stopped by Hendrick Motorsports near Charlotte if we were in the area - now we would be. He had given us information before we left encouraging us to go visit the home of 'his' driver - "Jr" and the "88" car.
We found the visit to be very enjoyable and the tour of the speedway an added thrill. For a racing fan, there are many other places of interest in this area.
Off I-85 (Exit 49), then two miles east on Speedway Blvd., up the exit ramp and directly in front of us, was the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Very impressive.
Following our GPS gal, we turned right at the first street. Oops - not the correct street. We ended up in a campground where we were met by a real friendly owner who invited us back for the night. He showed us how to get out of his campground and told us how to get to the Hendrick Motorsport complex.
Hendrick Motorsports . . .
Hendrick Motorsports is a 67-acre racing complex with a museum, and race shops. It is located at 4400 Papa Joe Hentrick Blvd.
To our right just inside the door, a 1931 Chevrolet . . .
To our left, two 25th Anniversary Chevrolets . . .
The museum and team store offered a lot to see and buy.
As you read our story and look at our photographs, you may notice a slant towards the #24 and #88 cars. Fred's Uncle Irv has been a #24 car fan for many years. Steve, Michelle's husband, recently switched to supporting the #88 car.
Oops . . .
The body moved up and down showing the frame under the shell.
Exhibits included entire walls of model cars, racing suits, trophies and other memorabilia.
Even a motorcycle . . .
Again, nine parking spots work out great for our rig.
Up the hill from the museum and team store, we visited the shops where the work is done.
The grounds were beautifully maintained.
In the power train lobby . . .
"Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to produce uncommon results."
In the power train shop, a display of cars was in front of of the door leading to the shop area.
We heard many stories about how, in the old days, the racing crowd was a rough bunch. Today, the people attending the NASCAR races are more controlled. This fence very effectively made sure that visitors don't get to the shop area - maybe they thought some of the 'old-timers' were going to show up.
In the body shop was in the building next door. More cars were displayed in this lobby.
The body shop was inside a glass wall. Thus, you had a great view. Both shops were as clean as a hospital.
Team work demonstrated . . .
All aluminum and chrome floor jack . . .
Wheel alignment . . .
While we were at Hendrick Motorsports, Shirley, the body shop receptionist told us about a tour at Lowe's Motor Speedway. She made it sound so interesting, we decided to spend the night at the campground we had 'found' and take the speedway tour the next morning. Tickets were only $5 each.
The speedway is a 1.5-mile oval with banking up to 24-degrees.
The speedway seats 140,000 fans.
The main entrance is where you access the ticket office and gift shop.
The Charlotte Motor Speedway
Corporate Headquarters bronze.
Every imaginable item of NASCAR memorabilia was available.
This countdown clock tells you how much time you have until someone says "Start your engines".
The walkway to the main entrance is scattered with imprints of hands and feet of retired race car drivers and pit crew members.
From a stairway into the stands, our campground and HHII could be seem.
Continuing up the stairway into the stands, we watched the cars providing ride-alongs.
We were scheduled for the 10:30am tour. Knowing that they do not sell tickets the day before and not knowing how many they could accommodate, we arrived 45 minutes ahead. That gave us a lot of time to talk with Francis, the gal from the gift shop. Fred asked which side of the van was better for photographs. She noted on the tour sheet that Fred's ticket number got 'shotgun' - giving him clear shots out the windshield for the track tour. As it turned out, Francis was our driver.
The vans entered the infield through the tunnel.
One area in the infield provides parking for the driver's luxury motor coaches. Jeff Gordon has the #1 spot.
The infield hospital has a staff that includes eight doctors during every race.
The NASCAR garage area was not very busy.
The Press Box was empty.
Only two families live in these condo year around.
Another garage area was busy with activity. It had been rented for the day by a Corvette club.
All race cars use the same fuel.
The Ride-Along activity was busy.
Colorful seats . . .
On the tour, we experienced the banking of the track and sped around the track at 80 mph. A little slower than the NASCAR cars go, but it was still fun.
Francis also made a photograph of us in the Winner's Circle.
Then, it was time to leave the infield.
RV parking was set-up in fields outside the track.
Lowe's is one of only a few speedways that retained a dirt track. It is across the street.
The day we were there the fire department was conducting training exercises.
On the way back to the front of the building, we passed by the original tunnel to the infield and the traffic command center used on race days. Francis posed next to the van for Fred.
If you are interested in NASCAR activities or just want to spent a fun day, visit a team shop and headquarters for a couple hours and then a spend a couple hours at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Camp across the street and enjoy the 'sounds' of NASCAR. This recommendation is for non-race weekends.
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