Some of you out there could probably give me a lesson on all the places to go and do's and do not's for NASCAR weekends here in Loudon. If you're one of those people, please feel free to leave a comment below with your gold nugget of advice.
However, others of you might be green to the NASCAR experience. This might be your first time heading to the race or your first time at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Or, perhaps, you're just looking for ways to better experience the weekend.
Here's a quick checklist and guide for "dummies" as you prepare for the trip to N.H.
- Avoid Traffic
Parking is free on-site at NHMS, so I'd recommend parking at the track, as opposed to a satellite area that might charge and will require you to catch a shuttle (or go for a long walk). A rule of thumb is that if you see someone charging for parking, you haven't made it to the speedway's lots yet. This isn't one of the places where the farther away you park, the cheaper it is. In fact, it's the opposite.
That said, be sure to familiarize yourself with the different roads to get here. Everybody and their brother, mother and third-cousin Jimbo can get here by taking I-93 to I-393 to 106 North...and most of them do! Those are the people that complain about the traffic. They're also probably the same kind of people that complain about the government despite the fact that they never vote. Don't be one of them!
The first time I came here, I'd heard the rumors about traffic, so I looked for an alternative route. Coming in from the west, I took Route 11 over from New London, which sent me through Route 3 to Tilton, which got me onto 106 via Route 140. I took that south and snuck easily into the north parking lots.
The important thing to realize is that 106 is the only major road that runs by the track, but it's not necessary to sit on it with every other race fan. Look at a map, come up with a plan and create your own shortcut!
- Get Here Early
Another trick to avoiding traffic is to get here early. The first race I attended (in Fontana, Calif.), we basically parked, went to the race and left. We didn't get there early enough to enjoy any of the atmosphere; we missed out!
Whether its having a barbecue, strolling through the parking lot people watching, attending the morning's Nelcar legends race or checking out the various displays in the S2 display lot or souvenir haulers throughout the property, there's a lot to see.
If you just come here, watch the race and go home. You're missing some of the fun and most of the experience.
- Prepare the Tailgate
A few days before the race, I purchased a small portable grill. Unlike some of our fans with their haul-anything trucks, I have a Honda Accord. This grill stows away comfortably in the trunk along side a large cooler and four lawn chairs.
The tailgate is, again, another good reason to arrive early. Since the lots are parked based on when you arrive, your specific parking lot will fill up as your setting up the grill. You'll usually get to meet the people near you, and the beauty of an all-comer crowd like the one you'll find at the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 is that you'll meet a wide variety of people.
People watching is one of the great aspects of tailgating. Again, you'll see a wide variety of people: from the decked out tailgates to the variety of outfits; it's definitely worth checking out.
- Bring a Small Cooler
The beauty of New Hampshire Motor Speedway unlike really any other venue in New England is that it allows you to carry in a smaller cooler into the grandstands. The main restriction is that, for safety's sake, you can't bring in any glass products. However, food and drinks (and that includes alcohol for those of age) are permitted.
Along with free parking, this is another element of NHMS that ensures you don't have to pay more than the price of a ticket. At most venues, they'll gauge you for $20 parking, $8 beer and $5 hot dogs. Here, you're permitted and even encouraged to bring your own food and drink.
The policy states that the cooler can't be more than 14" in any direction. My suggestion would be to bring something collapsible so it breaks down easily.
- Bring a Portable Radio
For me personally, I get a signal on my iPod Nano, but anything that gets FM would work. Some people prefer to either rent or bring their own special track radios to pick up the driver's frequencies. By all means, if that's your thing, then go for it.
However, I like finding the race on a FM station that syndicates PRN. The commentators do a great job picking up the action so you can often figure out some of the battles for position as they happen.
- Wear Ear Muffs
If you've never been to a race, it's loud. Like airport runway loud! It might be cool for the first few laps, but you'll soon wish you had something covering your ears. Bring the big muffs your dad used for the chainsaw. Fear not, you'll still be able to hear just fine.
You could also bring some ear plugs as well, but, as I said, I'd recommend some ear buds on your small portable radio and that will serve the same purpose on the inner ear.
- Don't Leave Right Away
When you include the hill on the back stretch, NHMS seats a capacity of 105,491. Do you really want to wait in traffic with all those people?
Hang out in your seat an extra ten minutes and watch the presentation in Victory Lane. After all, what's the point of watching these guys race for 301 laps if you don't care who wins the race!?
Once you do make it back out the car, set the grill back up, pull the lawn chairs back out and make yourself some dinner. You'll find yourself mildly amused sitting in your seat while the rest of the people sit there watching you in their car that hasn't moved in 15 minutes, burning gas and telling you that they should have done what you're doing.
Keep in mind when we say we provide you with a raceday experience, we mean a race day experience. Get here early, stay late and enjoy everything we have to offer in between.
The LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on July 17 is right in the middle of a warm New England summer. Let's hope the weather is as perfect as it should be for that time of the year and we'll see you at the track!