how do you pack for race day?

What do you bring with you for race day? A visual of some of the items from Dawn's listIn the months and weeks leading up to the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway I spoke to my co-worker/friend Dawn about the big event. This was the third year in a row that she’d attended the NASCAR race weekend in Sonoma with a super large group of people, about 20-30 (although this year the group dwindled to 10 because of the race falling on Father’s Day). They start tailgating at 6am and don’t stop until well after the race is over, usually around 8pm.

Now, I bring up Dawn because in one of our many “We’re so excited the race is coming up!” conversations we started to talk about how we pack for race day. Women think of this stuff. It’s important to be prepared for any and every eventuality so that you’re not left looking like a crusty, sunburned nut job at the end of the day, basically you don’t want to look like I did at the end of the weekend, but I’ll get to that later.

This was Dawn’s second year bringing her “kit” with her. The first year she did it the guys in her group made fun of her, but of course when they cut their finger and needed a Band-Aid who did they come crawling to? Exactly.

Dawn graciously photographed (above, left) and listed her essential, and seriously smart, items, in her own words:

  • Nike duffle backpack
  • Deodorant
  • SPF 50 sport sunscreen, applied many, many times through out the day, don’t forget your ears
  • SPF 50 just for face sunscreen, applied many, many times through out the day
  • Lip balm with highest number of sunscreen you can find, Banana Boat has an SPF 45
  • Daily facial wipes, the already wet ones
  • Baby wipes (for blue house trips and cleaning hands)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Gum
  • Listerine strips
  • Brush ups… those travel toothbrush finger things (dirt in the teeth is not hot)
  • Floss picks (left over lunch in your teeth isn’t hot either)
  • Change of clothes, for after the race
  • Two pairs of socks, one for walking around during the race then to change into after the race, if need be.
  • Thin jacket
  • Hooded sweatshirt
  • Tennis shoes for walking around
  • Baseball hat
  • Extra hair ties and hair clips
  • Flip flops for tailgating. Sensible shoes, people! You’re walking at a race track not a runway at fashion week!!!

So I had every intention of diligently following Dawn’s list, but I didn’t and I totally paid for it in the end.

These are the things that I brought:

  • Digital camera
  • Cell phone
  • Digital voice recorder
  • Notepad
  • Orbit gum
  • Pens
  • Tissues
  • Burt’s Bees lip balm
  • Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte (absolutely necessary!)

Notice any glaring omissions from my list? Ya know, like sunscreen and a hat. I didn’t wear a hat and I didn’t wear sunscreen, which are two huge no brainers. I ended up with the most amazing sunburn ever, that is still with me. When my forehead started peeling I miraculously remembered where my fashionable, non-NASCAR driver associated, hats were located. I wore a hat for a complete week to cover up my icky, peeling forehead.

If you were to look at me right now, you can see where the strap from my credentials lanyard laid against my neck and chest. I got my hair done a week ago and my hairdresser said she found stark blonde strands of hair, mixed in amongst my very brown hair. So that’s one way to can get natural highlights.


My first thought was about the blog and making sure I got content for it, (look what I do for you people!) and I completely spaced on bringing things that would protect me from the weather.

So I thought this was a great question to pose to you race fans out there: How do you pack for race day? What are your must-haves for spending the day at the track? Leave your lists and thoughts in the comments section below. (Remember you have to fill out the Captcha box before hitting “Submit Your Comment”!)


  1. Jon
    July 14, 2009 at 10:48 PM ·

    I packed: sunblock, digital camera, a full jug of water (which was gone by halfway into the race), an extra shirt, and got a Kevin Harvick hat and t-shirt at his merchandise stand prior to the race.

    MUST HAVES: LOTS of water, sunblock. These are must haves that I DIDN’T have: Handi-Wipes, Listerine strips, brush ups, and floss picks. I’ll bring those next year in addition to the water and sunblock.

  2. July 15, 2009 at 12:57 PM ·

    i’ve only attended one “large” race [a bush series race in nashville a few years back], but i spend each weekend in the pits at my local short track where my boyfriend battles in the late model division. when it comes to packing, i’ve got it down to a science!
    my must-haves include: my medications, extra tylenol/ibuprofen, chapstick, cash [no debit/credit cards!], sunglasses & hat, sunscreen [of course!], my cell phone, a sweatshirt or two, comfortable shoes/sneakers, a mints, hairclip/elastic, my camera & gear [separate bag], small snacks, plenty of water and most importantly (!!) a BOOK! i never know when there is going to be down-time, and i like to soak up every moment! even at the “big” races, there will inevitably be some quiet moments, so a small paperback is a good idea.
    LOVED your comment about the sensible shoes…certainly not fashion week at any of the tracks i’ve been to, although maybe i’m the only one who is NOT in the know…hehe! ;)

  3. Phoenyx
    July 15, 2009 at 2:21 PM ·

    Sunscreen, camera, the ever-present cowboy hat, sunglasses, asthma meds, aspirin and water are the “staples”. I’ll have to review your friend’s backpack for other ideas in the future races I attend. Things you can and cannot bring in vary from track to track. Like the backpack (camera backpack but good for a day at the track) would not be allowed inside at Kansas because you need a clear bag. You don’t need that at Infineon.

    I’d also add a lightweight long sleeve button down shirt to the list. I have a white linen shirt I wear at the track. Reflects the sun and really keeps you a lot cooler in certain situations.

    And I agree with the sensible shoes comment! I can’t believe how many chicks I saw at the track wearing high heels! At Infineon, sheesh! That’s a place where you are doing a TON of walking around, up steep hills, on dirt, etc. Not a place for platforms.

    I may or may not bring a book, but I’ve been known to pack the sketchbook with me.

    (side note: my captcha phrase was “gobbling squadron”. hehehe)

  4. July 15, 2009 at 4:14 PM ·

    I had to be difficult…I posted my list in an entry on my blog :-)

  5. Janice Budd
    July 20, 2009 at 2:16 PM ·

    I pack the always important rain poncho! I attend several races each year, always two trips to Phoenix. A couple years ago I headed to the track knowing that it never rains in the desert. Boy was I wrong! It was like a big black cloud hovered over us until an hour before the race was to start. I ended up with a large plastic bag as a raincoat and from that day forward I take my disposable poncho to every race. So far this year, I’ve needed it at 1/2 the tracks I’ve been to.
    Of course, as a fan, I always take my Sharpie, never know when you can get an autograph.