Fast cars and freedom—it’s in our blood! From skydiving to speedboats…when you think of adventure, you think of speed!
What could be a wilder ride than racing on the Charlotte Motor Speedway in race used stock cars, clad in a fireproof suit, gripping the wheel with gloved hands and watching the other cars flash behind you and out of sight.
Yeah…we’ve had that dream, too! While we’ve come face-to-face with ocean predators and jumped from planes into the blue sky…it’s time we put four wheels on the ground and hit the racetrack!
What do you say? Join the Groove Adventure Team in one of the craziest adventures of our lives and go racing on the speedway!
Stock car racing is more than just a 65 mile-per-hour cruise down the highway. It’s more than a Sunday afternoon joyride on your motorcycle through the mountains of Colorado. It’s fast like you’ve never - and should never have - experienced unless you’re on a motor speedway with the professionals, ready to learn how to race a car!
In this adventure, the Groove Adventure Team hit the speedway to race each other like the pros! In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the process of accomplishing this adventure for yourself, while giving you the rundown on what it means to be a NASCAR driver! Are you ready?
Let’s get groovin’!
History of NASCAR Racing
Racing your chosen method of transportation has been around for… oh… FOREVER. Back before the good ol’ Model T, people were racing horses, and before that… well, we were racing on our own two legs! The point is… racing has been around a long time.
Automobile racing began in the 1800s, but the first organized race wasn’t until 1894, in a race from Paris to France! The first speedway, Brooklands, was built in 1907, located in Surrey, England. The track included a 4.4 km or 2.75 mile track with banked corners! It’s crazy that it was only just over 100 years ago that the first speedway was built! The sport has grown so much since then.
There are a lot of different types of racing… but the one that is most popular in the United States of America, and the one that the Groove Life Adventure Team took on in our latest episode is… (drumroll)... Stock Car Racing! To give you the history of this would be to answer our next question so... here goes!
What is NASCAR?
NASCAR is, quite literally, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Stock car racing had its brilliant beginnings in the bootlegging whiskey business. Yep… you heard that right! Bootleggers who were “runnin’ shine” needed a fast way of escape when they were about to get busted! So… they would fix up their cars for extra speed, and after a while they realized they had a good thing going on with this car racing thing!
By the 1930s, the bootleg business was fizzling but the high-speed races continued, especially in Wilkes County of North Carolina which is known as “Moonshine Capital of the World!” Those races turned into entertainment for the local folks, and in 1947, the North Wilkesboro Speedway - the first NASCAR track, and the same location that our Adventure Team got to explore - had its first race… and then on October 16, 1949 was the very first NASCAR-sanctioned race!
Today, NASCAR races are watched on television in over 150 countries and eagerly anticipated around the world! Most children dream of becoming a NASCAR racer… or, at least, driving a stock car on a real “racetrack!” As it turns out, that is a dream that can totally come true… it all depends on you!
So, is stock car racing really that dangerous?
How Dangerous is NASCAR Racing?
While stock car racing itself, as a sport, is inherently dangerous, not one single driver has lost his or her life in a NASCAR race since 2001! Technological advances made safety equipment possible that prevents all different types of tragedies!
That being said… what we are NOT talking about here is tearing around your hometown in your cruiser. That is incredibly dangerous. Drive responsibly on the road, and save your crazy side for the speedway!
So, what are the dangers professional drivers could face when participating in a NASCAR race?
Surprisingly enough, one of the side effects that a driver will face is danger from fumes. The car, as you may guess, is packed with fumes, and since the races can take many hours, without time to take a breath of fresh air, this can have negative side effects over time. Thankfully, this is not a side effect that you have to worry about with a short ride in a real racecar! This is something you would need to be careful of if you were intending to make a career out of stock car racing.
As with any job that requires a great deal of sitting in one position, stock car racing for hours on end can potentially cause blood clots. Again, this is something to consider if you plan to sit for hours at a time, but not a concern for those who just want to experience the excitement of a quick Nascar race adventure for a weekend!
You saw this one coming. Yes, there is always a possibility, when you hop into a car, that you could experience an accident. NASCAR racing cars are equipped with high-tech gear to reduce the risk of injury in the case of an accident, even if your car ends up rolling!
This is the #1 concern that you have to be aware of when you’re driving in a stock car race! You will be well equipped for this possibility with a whole bunch of fire-retardant gear!
Speaking of which… what will you wear on race day?
Outline of Racing Gear
While most adventures require a lot of extra gear that you’ll need to make your trip a success, stock car racing is a little different! The gear you need should mostly be built into the car itself! This includes a “roll cage” to protect you if the car should roll, and secure seats. As you read in the previous section, the greatest danger drivers face is the fear of collision, rolling, and fire. The interior of the car and helmet are decked out carefully to protect the driver from rolls and collisions, while the gear he or she wears is specifically designed to be fireproof.
Not only does this suit look super legit but it also is entirely flame-retardant! For your ride, your guide will provide you with a suit to wear and you can just slip it on right over your clothes!
The helmet is something you’ll never want to leave behind on race day! NASCAR helmet are fire-retardant, built to protect against flying debris, and can cover the entire face, or leave the face open if you prefer goggles. Some drivers believe an open helmet increases their range of vision.
If you’re heading out on a four or five hour race, you’re going to need gloves for those crazy turns, not to mention to protect your hands from a potential fire! Plus, they just look super cool! If you’re doing a less-crazy 2-3 mile quick run around the track just for fun, you may not need gloves.
Specific socks and shoes may seem like the lowest priority on your list, (I mean… you’re sitting the whole time, right?), but the feet are actually the most likely to get injured during a stock car race because the engine is so near to the feet! In an actual race, NASCAR drivers wear fire-retardant socks and shoes! For a shorter, just-for-fun race that you’re hoping to do, you’ll want to bring closed-toed shoes.
What are the options for racing?
If you’re like us, you wanted to have the absolute COOLEST experience out there! So… you should probably do what we did and hit the Charlotte Motor Speedway to race your friends in a real stock car!
But, if you are looking for a similar experience in a different location, there are several options you can choose from!
Just head to Nascar Racing Experience to see the list of locations and pricing options! They have racing locations anywhere from Miami to Kentucky and a whole range of prices!
Here are a couple of the options you will find on their website:
There are a variety of options for a ride along! Basically, with this package you get to “relax” in the passenger seat as a skilled driver takes you on a few flyin’ laps around the track! For this option, you can go with up to three people per car!
Junior Ride Along
That’s right… unlike some of the previous Groove Adventure Team trips, this experience is for the whole family! The junior ride along option is for kids who are 4-5’ tall!
This is the REAL DEAL, y’all! You can select a driving experience from a wide range of options, and drive your very own stock car around the speedway! You will have access to a 2-way radio with your instructor the whole way! Some driving experiences even include a race, so read the fine print to make sure you choose the perfect option for your goals!
Who can race?
So… you want to race a stock car!
You’re not alone! Just the idea of racing an authentic stock car on a NASCAR speedway gets our hearts pounding… and we already did it once!
You’re going to love every second of this adventure!
There are just a few restrictions if you’re hoping to complete the NASCAR Driving Experience on the Charlotte Motor Speedway! The good news is… there are so many options, you’ll probably find one that is the perfect option for you!
Are there age restrictions?
While all drivers do need to be over 18 and hold a valid driver’s license, that doesn’t mean that those who are younger can’t experience the intensity of the racetrack! There is an option for everyone! If you are under 18, you can still participate in a Ride Along, as long as you have parental consent! Anyone over 18 is free to drive, as long as they have a valid driver’s license!
How big is the car?
The race car is compact for maximum racing speeds, so there is also a weight limit of 270 lbs, and a height limit of 6’7” for comfortability purposes.
Just like that… you’re ready to ride! Now it’s time to learn what you need to bring along if you want to race like a pro!
What do I need to go racing?
You’ve waited and waited… let’s say race day is finally here! You want to make sure you are prepared for whatever this adventure will require of you! Thankfully you checked with the Groove Adventure Team first… we got your back!
Here’s what you need to accomplish this adventure and enjoy every second!
Prove you can drive with a driver’s license
If you’re planning on driving a stock car, you’re going to need to bring along a valid driver’s license! It would be pretty dangerous to hit the speedway if you’re new to driving! Plus… make sure you know how to drive a stick-shift or you might be caught in a… sticky situation!
Protect those feet with closed-toe shoes
In a NASCAR stock racing experience, you won’t be in such an intense situation as you would if you were competing in an actual NASCAR race, so fire-retardant shoes won’t be necessary. Do make sure you wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet, or you might not be able to ride!
Wear comfy clothes if you’re driving
You’ll want to throw on something comfy like a t-shirt and shorts that you can wear underneath the fire-retardant suit that your guide will have for you!
Grab your wallet!
We hate to break it to you, but this adventure comes with a price tag! The NASCAR experiences range between $200 (for a ride along) and $3,000 (for the craziest race-day driving experience you can imagine) so budget accordingly! You actually get to reserve your adventure online, so your wallet on race-day is just for snacks on the way over. *wink*
Call all your friends!
That’s right… your family and friends can watch you race from the sidelines and cheer you on as you cross that finish line! So call your parents and text your friends… every competition is more fun with an audience!
Do I Need Professional Training?
We said this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning twice. Don’t you dare go out there and try your hand at racing in your car on a normal road. THAT is far more dangerous than actually racing in a NASCAR race, and not only are you putting your own life at risk, but you are risking the lives of others as well. Be responsible and save your adrenaline for trail running or skydiving!
That being said, if you decide to take on the NASCAR Racing Experience, you’ll have a built-in instructor and guide that is professional, experienced, and ready to make sure you have the time of your life on the speedway!
Is a Certification Required to go NASCAR Racing?
This is a double-ended question! The easy answer is a big ol’ no… but certification is involved!
Here’s the scoop. In order to drive on the speedway, you’ll need to have a valid driver’s license, but that’s the only certification required! But, after you finish your wild spin on the pavement, if you choose a driving experience, you will receive a Graduate Certificate that you can hang on your wall, post on social media, or pin to your t-shirt and wear to work (Okay, we’re kidding on that last one)!
This is probably one of the simplest adventures to accomplish because just about anyone can drive, and if you’re too young, you still can purchase a ride-along ticket to enjoy the experience from the passenger seat!
How do I get started?
Now, you may be thinking, “What can I do to set myself up to WIN on the racetrack?”
You came to the right place! SPOILER ALERT: Our founder, Peter Goodwin, was the grand winner of our racing experience, and he has a few pro tips for you so you can prepare for the big day!
1. Learn to drive a stick shift.
That’s right… NASCAR drivers are way too cool to drive an automatic! If you’re hoping to drive a stock car on the speedway, you’re going to need to know how to operate a car with a manual transmission.
2. Practice on Go-Karts
This is a tip we received from the pros! You should practice on go-karts to increase your speed and learn how to navigate curves and race with precision!
3. Enter a local racing league
If you do decide to compete with go-karts, try to find a local racing league so you can compete with your friends! This will give you experience in racing with others safely.
That’s all, folks! If you can drive a manual and have some practice on go-karts, you’re all set to drive a stock car!
You’re almost finished with the complete guide to stock car racing! To help you out as a final hurrah, we decided to share a few of the insider terms we learned from the pros so you sound totally legitimate when you’re talking racing!
“Drafting” - This is using the car in front of you to break the wind so you can drive even faster without resistance! That is why you see cars driving behind each other when they aren’t passing… they’re drafting!
“Pedal to the Metal” - You already probably know that this means FULL SPEED! This is going to be your consistent speed unless you’re approaching a turn, at which point you need to hit those brakes!
“Finding the Line” - If you find the line racing, this means you achieved the ideal turn! You swing wide on that turn, then slice across the inside, and turn back out wide, so you can avoid the slower speed of a sharp turn.
You did it! You just completed the ultimate guide and are now prepared to MASTER the speedway with excellence! Now, we just have one question for you.
What are you waiting for?!
The experience of your life is out there for the taking! So grab your friends, buckle up, and get out there to put that pedal to the metal on the speedway! The finish line is waiting, and all you have to do is open the door and hop in for the NASCAR race of your dreams.
Brittanica. Automobile Racing.