The Monday after attending the inaugural induction ceremony at the NASCAR Hall of Fame I had already earmarked as being a “day off” meaning that I wasn’t going to do anything except watch daytime television and go to the mall. This made sense because when I arrived I had two straight days of events to attend. I deserved it, plus I actually needed stuff from the mall.
Oh! I forgot to say that on Sunday night I had dinner with Jessica, Kells and Margaret. Margaret & Jessica I knew because they read this blog and are super active on Twitter, it was an absolute no-brainer that I was going to meet them while I was out in Charlotte. They’re awesome women and we had a fun time laughing it up at The Cheesecake Factory.
Anyway, back to Monday. I went to the mall with no expectations of any NASCAR related sightings but ending up spying Joey Logano shopping with his girlfriend. They were really cute. And no, I didn’t follow them. It was an interesting moment because I realized that if I lived in Charlotte moments like that would probably happen more often. Just something to think about.
On Tuesday my plan for the day was to check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I had taken a cursory walkthrough before the induction ceremony on Sunday and I really wanted to take some time to really experience everything it had to offer.
First, you should know that for adults admission is $19.95 (Military/Seniors are $17.95) and kids are $12.95. There is a cafe inside the HOF but don’t bother with it. They’ve got hot dogs, pre-made sandwiches and salads and that’s about it. There’s nothing to write home about. There is a Buffalo Wild Wings attached to the HOF that I recommend visiting before or after your visit since you can’t bring food inside. I also highly recommend their warm cinnamon bites with vanilla ice cream. Omigosh, I still daydream about those suckers, so yummy.
On to the HOF, when you buy your ticket you’re given what’s called a “Hard Card.” Once you get your hard card it’s yours for-ev-er and you get to personalize it. You go to one of the check-in kiosks and add your info, like your name, email address, birth day, a nickname and my favorite part of all: select a driver to be your guide through the Hall of Fame. I, of course, picked Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right)
Your hard card keeps track of all the activities you participate in throughout the hall. I started on the bottom floor and took in a movie in the Belk® High Octane Theater. The film gave a brief rundown on the history of NASCAR along with some highlights from this year’s Daytona 500 featuring Jamie McMurray’s tearful victory lane interview, which still makes me cry.
The theater spits you out on level 2 where Glory Road begins. Glory Road leads up to level 3 and features 18 historic cars from NASCAR’s life. It also features info on 46 tracks including pieces of some of those tracks that you can touch and feel. The best part of Glory Road for me was getting to stand on the 33° banking of Talladega. (left) It’s insane how steep it is.
On level 3 I browsed the Hall of Honor where the HOF inductees are enshrined, debated spending an extra $5 on testing out the racing simulator before deciding that I didn’t want to and watched two kids try to beat each other in the pit crew challenge. The pit crew challenge is really cool. You get to jack a car, change a tire and fuel a car. Very fun, even just watching other people do it.
The HOF is truly interactive in the right and best sense. You get to experience and learn about EVERYTHING in NASCAR. They’ve even got stuff about the media that cover the sport. I tried my hand at broadcasting, doing a really crappy job of calling the battle between Dale Jr and Kyle Busch at Richmond, ya know that race when Kyle spun Dale to get the win. Even though I sucked at it, it was cool to be able to record myself and then hear and watch the playback.
Walking through an actual NASCAR transporter was a highlight, as was learning how hard it is to be a NASCAR official watching teams on pit stops. It was a fun challenge watching simulated pit stops and figuring out which rules had been broken, if at all.
On level 4 I sat in an actual driver’s seat (quite comfy) and learned about the Spotter’s Ball (shown at right). I had never seen one before, apparently NASCAR created ‘em way back when as a place for spotters to watch the action on the track.
All over the HOF there are tons and tons of ways to watch and listen to various stories from various NASCAR legends and personalities, but on level 4 you have the opportunity to tell your story too. You can leave a written note sharing one of your favorite moments or you can record your story for others to listen to during their visit to the HOF. That NASCAR, always thinking of ways to include the fans.
On level 4 there’s also a section that’s made up to look like an old-timey garage. I’m sure there’s an official name for it but I don’t remember it. Anyway, there’s a phone in the garage that rings (shown at left). You’re supposed to pick it up and when you do you’ll hear Raymond Parks telling you that he’ll be able to drive for you that weekend.
I thought this was a really fun feature, until after hanging around that area for some time and the phone kept ringing and ringing I wanted to yell at people, “Answer the friggin phone already!” It’s not that annoying, but I thought that was funny.
Overall I think the NASCAR Hall of Fame is a great success. It’s something that you absolutely have to check out. It was really and truly a lot of fun to hang out there and I want to go again. I also have to give huge props to the staff at the Hall of Fame for being super awesome and nice. Across the board everyone was genuinely courteous and helpful.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Hall of Fame grows as more inductees are added each year.
Glory Road as seen from the Hall of Honor inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Lowe’s® Transporter inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame