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CPit Practice, Raceworld USA, Home of Michael Waltrip Racing (c) Thomas R. Fletcherharlotte:  Racing and More

By

Thomas R. Fletcher

            Charlotte could rightly be called “NASCAR Central.”  About four out of five NASCAR Cup series teams are based in the Charlotte area.  Not only are most teams based in the area, a large percentage of the drivers live there.  Charlotte —the Queen City—has a population of 664,000 and is a US banking center second only to New York City.  Many come to Charlotte for the racing, and stay for the many other attractions.

            Charlotte hosts two major NASCAR Cup-series races each year.  MemorialDriving Comfort 120x60 Day weekend sees the series’ longest race, a 600-mile event.  The second, a 500-mile race is held each October.  Racing represents a tremendous economic impact on Cabarrus County  (home of Lowes Motor Speedway)  and the Charlotte area.  Lowes Motor Speedway seats 167,000 fans, with the in-field taken into account more than 200,000 people attend each race event, with an estimated $100 million economic impact for each of these race events.  In many ways Cabarrus County is home to NASCAR.

    NC-3291Machine shop, Raceworld USA © Thomas R. Fletcher         Visitors may visit many of the race team shops in the area.  Minutes from downtown Charlotte in Cornelius, North Carolina is Michael Waltrip Racing and Raceworld USA Raceworld USA represents one of the most fan-friendly visits available.  Race fans get a behind-the scenes look at what goes into fielding a race team for a NASCAR event.  This state of the art facility is home to three NASCAR Cup teams, #55, #44, and # 00 as well as the Nationwide Series #99 car.  Here fans can check out the garage, and see work actually being done on the shop floor, look out on the machine shop or watch live pit practice. 

            Race fans will want to check out the Dale Trail, in honor of NASCARDale Earnhardt Statue, Dale Earnhardt Plaza, Kannapolis, North Carolina © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-3301 racing legend and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt.  It is the world’s first Motorsports Heritage Trail.  The trail is a self-guided auto tour through Earnhardt’s hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina and surrounding area.  Pick up a free map from the Cabarrus County Visitors Center and start exploring.  The trail starts at Exit 60 off I-85—Dale Earnhardt Boulevard.  The Dale Trail includes 20 stops related to the life of Dale Earnhardt.  It runs along Dale Earnhardt Boulevard and merges with State Highway 3 (renumbered Highway 3 in 2002 to commemorate the Intimidator’s #3 car).  Stop by Curb Motorsports Museum in downtown Kannapolis to see the 1980 #2 blue and yellow Chevy Earnhardt drove for his first NASCAR Cup win (the Winston Cup series at that time).  Stop #13 is Dale Earnhardt Inc, open Monday – Friday 9 AM – 5 PM.  A stop no one wants to miss is Dale Earnhardt Plaza in downtown Kannapolis—dominated by a nine foot tall, 900 pound bronze statue of Dale in street clothes—the way many friends and neighbors remember him.

  Pit Crew Training, Pit Crew U, Performance Instruction & Training, Mooresville, North Carolina © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-3307          Think you’d like to join a NASCAR pit crew?  There’s a school for that—Pit Crew U at PIT Performance Instruction and Training in Mooresville, NC.  Pit Crew U is the division of PIT that teaches the specific skills needed for a career as an over-the-wall pit crew member of a NASCAR team.  It is an eight week course where students learn pit crew positions, choreography, concepts, equipment and maintenance.  Pit crews are an essential part of a NASCAR team—the performance of these crews often determines the race winner.  Pit Crew U students are required to maintain strength and conditioning through workout schedules under the guidance of certified athletic performance instructors.  The PIT campus includes a fitness and medical services facility, a six-stall pit area and quarter-mile track.  Pit stalls are equipped with overhead cameras capturing students’ every move so their performance can be examined and critiqued.  PIT also offers special event facilities, corporate performance programs, team building and group tours.Richard Petty Driving Experience, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, NC © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-20438

            Want to see what it feels like to go 165 MPH in a race car?  Then check out the Richard Petty Driving Experience to make that happen.  You can do a ride along, or take the training and actually take the wheel.

            Everyone has to eat, and the Charlotte area  has some fine dining establishments to be experienced.  In fact one could make Charlotte a destination based on cuisine alone.  The city has more than 150 restaurants, cafés, and eateries scattered around town.  It is as one Charlotte resident pointed out, “Bankers like to eat well.”  So it shouldn’t be surprising that many fine dining establishments have essentially, followed the money. 

            Rooster's Wood-Fired Kitchen and Wine Bar  is a place not to be missed. Young lady at a wine bar, Rooster's Wood Fired Kitchen, Charlotte, North Carolina © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-3230 Rooster’s features a relaxed upscale atmosphere with an open kitchen, the wood-fired grill being the restaurant’s centerpiece.  The chic interior decor is rustic iron, wood, stone and leather and unique in the fact that stuffed roosters are everywhere.  That’s right, stuffed roosters, as in male chickens that have been to the taxidermist.  Chef Jim Noble  refers to the food as “new southern cuisine,” a cooking style that puts a twist on classic and rustic European cuisine.  Noble’s wood-fired cooking uses products from local farmers and organic ingredients.  The menu features an emphasis on Spanish, French and Italian cuisine.  The Wine Bar features a selection of 150 fine wines from Italy, Spain, France and California, housed in a wrought-iron wall display.

  Lancaster's Barbeque, Mooresville, North Carolina © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-20437          What would a visit to North Carolina be without some tasty barbeque?  Lancaster's Barbeque in Mooresville is a NASCAR themed restaurant, with racecar hoods, bumpers and other parts providing the décor.  The barbeque is simply wonderful.  No wonder the place is a favorite of NASCAR team members.

            For something a little different, try Lake Norman’s eeZ Fusion for some of the area’s best sushi.  Here one may literally bump into some of NASCAR’s top drivers, as it seems to be a favorite with quite a few.  The delicious fusion cuisine features cooked, raw and vegetarian dishes.  There’s something to satisfy most any palate.Seared Salmon on Cedar, eeZ Fusion Sushi © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-20406

            Lake Norman, North Carolina’s largest lake is located within a 20-minute drive of Charlotte.  Lake Norman’s 520 miles of shoreline offer plenty of water-based activities including swimming, boating and fishing.  If you need something a little more adventurous, check out the US National Whitewater Center featuring the world’s largest manmade whitewater river with Class III and Class IV rapids, 5,700 square feet of climbing area and 11 miles of hiking, biking and running trails.  USNWC hosted the 2008 US Olympic Team Trials for slalom canoe/kayak.  The center is open year round, but the hours vary with the season.  Those planning on whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing or other activities should call ahead for reservations.  The 300-acre area offers whitewater kayak instructions with beginner and intermediate packages.  Private lessons are available as are mountain bike rentals.  Whitewater rafting packages are available for beginner, intermediate and advanced trips.

            Looking for some pampering instead?  Then you may want to check outYoung lady receives hot rock spa treatment at the Ballantyne Resort, Charlotte, NC © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-3198 the spa at the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge, an urban oasis.  It is a 20,000 square foot spa facility with a wide array of treatments available.  The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge was listed among the ‘Top 38 Golf Resorts in the World” by PGA Magazine.  The Ballantyne’s Dana Rader Golf School was listed among the “Top 25 Golf Schools” by Golf Magazine. 

            Want to get some shopping done while visiting Charlotte?  There’s no place better than Concord Mills— the number one shopping destination in the Carolinas with more than 200 retailers and restaurants.  Concord Mills’ 150,000 square feet of shopping area attracts more than 15 million shoppers every year.  Charlotte: it’s more than just racing that brings the visitors back.

 

 

If You Go

Raceworld USA

20310 Chartwell Center Drive

Cornelius, NC 28031

Phone: 704-897-5537

Web: www.raceworldusa.net

Raceworld USA, Home of Michael Waltrip Racing, NASCAR, Charlotte © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-3276 HotelsCombined.Com
Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR, Charlotte, North Carolina © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-20422

Hendrick Motorsports

4400 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd.

Charlotte, NC 28262

Phone:  704-455-3400

Web: www.hendrickmotorsports.com

 

Lowes Motor Speedway

Web: www.lowesmotorspeedway.com

 

Performance Apparel @ ExOfficio.com

Entrance to Lowe's Motor Speedway © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-3334

US National Whitewater Center

5000 Whitewater Center Parkway

Charlotte, NC 28214

Phone: 704-391-3900

Web: http://www.usnwc.org

US National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, North Carolina © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-3363
Dale Earnhardt's car driven in his first Winston Cup win, Curb Motorsports, Kannapolis, NC © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-20435 Raceworld USA, Home of Michael Waltrip Racing © Thomas R. Fletcher NC-3278

 

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