The Extremes of Tailgating NASCAR Style

Thursday, September 23, 2010 @ 08:09 AM

There are many kinds of motorsports out there, but as far as tailgaters go, N.A.S.C.A.R. probably has the most. And as far as tailgating goes, it covers all ends of the spectrum. I’ve seen people just show up with a cooler of beer & a bag of chips. I have also seen people come from Thursday through Monday and park on the infield bringing sofas & easy chairs with them.

Most race tracks, that hold N.A.S.C.A.R. functions, will allow each person to bring in a small soft sided cooler. (I’ve seen bigger & wondered who they had to bribe to get it in. I’ve even seen motorized coolers with seats and steering wheels.) You can bring in plastic water bottles and canned beer. No glass allowed. You can bring your own snacks and sandwiches. Some people are fine with that. I personally, have no interest in lugging a cooler around with me all day. Cooler stays in the car for cold drinks & snacks before and after the race.

Less extreme tailgaters sometimes just bring a small grill. Some burgers & dogs to pass the time, (seeing as we had to get up at 4 AM to drive to the track so that we didn’t get stuck in traffic for 3 and a half hours and miss the beginning of the race! That is not an exaggeration. Come race day, a relatively small city becomes a booming metropolis overnight! For some odd reason it is a small miracle finding parking spaces for everyone.) Most stadium or venue food & beer comes with a pretty high price tag.  The food you cook yourself would probably taste better anyway. And that way you can save your money for a t-shirt of your favorite driver or a banner of your favorite team.

More extreme tailgaters come for the weekend. Now, when I say weekend, that could be just Saturday and Sunday. For some folks, they arrive on Thursday & stay until Monday, or longer. Speed week at the beginning of racing season is usually more like a month. And yes, spectators do go and stay for the whole month. A race weekend is hardly ever just a day. There are practice sessions to watch. Sometimes there are bands playing. They have autograph sessions with the drivers. Product displays with games and raffles. There are different classes of vehicles racing. Some of the weekend warriors with trailers and motor homes, will pay to park in the stadium parking lot (make shift campgrounds or specified tailgate lots). Some will pay businesses near by, to set up in there parking lots. Walmart, Home Depot & Lowes are typical camp & tailgate sites, as you can usually park for free. First come, first serve though. Some venues actually allow fans & spectators to park motor homes or tailgating vehicles on the infield, for the day or the whole weekend. I’ve see trucks with wooden platforms built on top for better viewing. I’ve also seen recliners & couches placed on top of those platforms. These are the extreme tailgaters.

Food for extreme raceway tailgaters, is rarely just burgers and dogs. The equipment is the same as an extreme football tailgater, but again we are talking 3-5 days. People bring charcoal grills & propane grills, table top & portable rolling cooking works of mastery, outdoor propane deep fryers, slow cookers, BBQ smokers, homemade & commercial, outdoor propane woks, I’ve even seen spit rotisseries set up. The fare ranging from regional favorites, like grilled lobster, clams, and fish, or chili & soft shell tacos, to rib eye roasts, deep fried turkey and pork tenderloin. Appetizers from pigs in a blanket to grilled scallops wrapped in bacon. Side dishes and dessert are usually included as well. Having a motor home with a refrigerator usually helps with this extreme form of tailgating but I’ve seen it done with lots of coolers and ice as well. Having a store nearby to get ice from is a must for a long weekend though.

Tailgating at the races is not just a N.A.S.C.A.R. thing either. Drag racing, Dirt track racing, Baja racing, Indie style racing, rock crawling, motor cycle racing, even speed boat racing have tailgaters. The Kentucky derby has a huge tailgate. People usually dress a little fancier and have been known to drink wine and mint juleps. N.A.S.C.A.R. tailgaters always seemed, to me, more over the top than the rest. Maybe it’s the large range of cultures and economic classes that follow the sport. Maybe it has something to do with N.A.S.C.A.R. races being more readily available to watch on T.V. You don’t need to have a special cable or satellite package to watch it. Maybe it’s just that N.A.S.C.A.R. advertises better than all the other racing sports. Whatever the case may be, the spectators seem to have the tailgate thing mastered. If you never get the chance to go to a race, the next time it’s on the telly, look in the back round. That sea of trailers & motor homes don’t all belong to drivers & team members. Most of them are extreme N.A.S.C.A.R. tailgaters.

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8 Responses to “The Extremes of Tailgating NASCAR Style”

  1. Matt Wagar says:

    Do you think you could do a follow up post? It seems like there could be more things said.

  2. wigelnyatt says:

    Well, I could, but I’m thinking that there is more that you would like to say. Add what you will and I will elaborate!

  3. EF says:

    Great article. We’d love to see the explosive growth in NASCAR tailgating that we’ve seen in NFL and NCAA football tailgating. Thanks for the tips. Can we be so bold as to recommend the Freedom Tray to your fans? http://FreedomTray.com. Thanks so much.

  4. EF says:

    Great article. We’d love to see the explosive growth in NASCAR tailgating that we’ve seen in NFL and NCAA football tailgating. Thanks for the tips. Can we be so bold as to recommend the Freedom Tray to your fans? http://FreedomTray.com. Thanks so much!

  5. wigelnyatt says:

    Thank you Eddie. We’d be happy to spread the word to our Motorsport tailgating fans!!!!!

  6. wigelnyatt says:

    Recommend away!!!!!

  7. wigelnyatt says:

    You can tailgate almost anywhere.

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