Journey of a First-Time Fan
(VIDEO) The Race Day Journey of a NASCAR Fan
So, it's race morning.
It's either been on your bucket list, or you are glued to the TV every Sunday from February to November following your favorite driver or team. You finally have decided to come see the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Loudon and you can't wait ...
But, what do you do when you get here? Arriving at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on race day can be overwhelming.
"Where do I park? Where do I go? Will there be traffic? What can I bring? More importantly, what should I bring? Is it like heading to a baseball game? What time should I get there?" So many questions, but from the perspective of first-time fan, let's break it down so that you can have a great day.
1. Set the alarm. Although the race doesn't start until mid-afternoon, there is so much to do when you arrive. Day Parking lots open at 6 a.m., so come tailgate and enjoy the experience of NASCAR, New England Style.
- Understand the map. New Hampshire Motor Speedway covers 1,100 acres and our infield can fit Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and the TD Garden inside of it. It's easy to be overwhelmed, but the NHMS team is there to help you every step of the way.
- Download the NHMS app prior to your arrival. This will give you the most updated information and maps on race day.
- Our lots are numbered and start with N or S. If you arrive from the North and pull in to our North Entrance, you will be in the N lots; if you arrive from the South, you will notice the S lots first. We have trams located around the property and you can ask our friendly parking team where the best place is to grab the shuttle. Remember, parking is free at NHMS, and our lots are a great place to meet and make friends. The tram service gives you the ability to get back to your car during the day.
- Handicapped parking is located throughout the property as well. If you are coming from the North, or have seats in the Laconia Grandstands, please enter through the TV gate. If you're coming from the south please enter through the Main Entrance. Please don't hesitate to ask, we are here to help. We even have ADA shuttles that will transport you if you call (603) 513-5798. Please note during busy times we can't be everywhere at once but will get you the in the queue to get a shuttle.
- When you leave the parking lot and head to the track, take a picture of the lot you are in. Our property is three miles long so it can help you find your car after a day of fun.
- We have them everywhere, and know after a ride to get to the speedway, and a few coffees, you will probably need one: permanent bathrooms are located near the FanZone in our F.W. Webb bath house, in the infield and under the grandstands. We have portable stations throughout our parking lots for your convenience.
2. Make a checklist of what you want to do.
- Tailgating: of course you want to do that for a bit. NHMS has a nine-day tailgate party, and you can come on Sunday morning and do it for one day as well. We think it's a great idea to get here early, and start the tailgate in the mid-to-late morning.
- The first stop is the FanZone. This is located on the southern side of the speedway in what we refer to as S2 and opens at 9 a.m. on Sunday. It's across from the Lite Lobster Lounge and Trackside Live stage.
- Buy a ticket lanyard at one of the SMI Trackside Souvenir stations or Speedway Word Souvenir Store (located in the Main Office). Many fans think this is the easiest way to manage tickets and IDs.
- Make sure to stop at the NHMS booth (in the FanZone) for your First-Time Fan Lanyard, and the team will be there to answer on-site questions all day. Our team is trained to look for these to make sure we can easily answer questions and make your day seamless.
- There are tons of freebies from the companies set up on display in the FanZone, plus entertainment on the Trackside Live stage, which will have driver appearances. We suggest you check the schedule for the most up-to-date appearances.
- If you want to bring a cooler while you walk around, you are more than welcome. Keep in mind they must be 14" or less in each dimension. You may pack whatever you like, including food, water (a must), and adult beverages (no glass, please). There are also great food options in the FanZone and Lite Lobster Lounge area as well.
- One of the differences from most sports to NASCAR is that you can experience pre-race activities from the infield with a pre-race pit pass. The infield gives you an unparalleled sports experience. You can walk pit road, see the pre-race concert up close, and watch the teams prep for the race. Access is through our infield tunnel at the southern end of the speedway or through four crossover gates located on the frontstretch by the Main Grandstand.
- Shopping for your favorite drivers memorabilia is a time-honored NASCAR tradition, so when you finish tailgating and experiencing the track, give yourself some time to head to the grandstands and walk around. The souvenir haulers are located inside the gates, right behind the Main Grandstand.
- The food selection at NHMS is varied, from fried food to lobster rolls. There are many vendors under the Main Grandstand and they start early for breakfast. Be sure to check out Taste of the Speedways (under the Main Grandstand near the suite elevators), which highlights favorite foods from around our sister tracks at Speedway Motorsports. Have you ever had a PB & J Milkshake? Fried Bologna Sandwich? Loaded Tots? This is a stop you don't want to miss.
- Visit the North East Motor Sports Museum. If you are here for a few days on your first visit, checking out the museum near the South Entrance is a can't-miss.
- Be sure to review the seating chart. The grandstands are big ... really big. Looking over a 1.058-mile oval takes up a lot of space. But they are conveniently named and numbered, so you can get to the right area quickly. The stands are built in three sections:
- Laconia Grandstand: This is one on the north side of the speedway (the town of Laconia is to the north).
- Main Grandstand: This is the one on the frontstretch where the start/finish line is located. It is separated into North (north of the start/finish toward Turn 4) and South (south of the start/finish toward Turn 1). Please note there is a section North S and a section South N. Make sure you don't confuse those, as they're not close to one another.
- Concord Grandstand: This is the one on the south side of the speedway (the town of Concord is to the south).
- Our grandstands have in-and-out privileges. If you want to, you can return to your car to reload your cooler (although it may take some time depending upon where you are parked). Be sure to have an usher scan your tickets when you leave so you will be able to re-enter without issue.
4. What to wear:
- NASCAR happens outside so it's great to be prepared for the elements. If you are going to be here for the day, be ready for a chilly morning. Layers are great and don't forget to pack a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Ear protection is a must. Muffs are ideal, although some fans gets by with just foam plugs. (It's your hearing, so it's your choice.) The best option is to grab a Racing Electronics Scanner or FanVision at one of the many booths on property. It will allow you to truly understand the race by listening to the communication between driver, crew chief and spotter, and the headset doubles as a way to fully protect your ears. This will give you a new appreciation to NASCAR and the strategy that plays out during the race.
- Our weekend schedule is packed. In fact, the fun starts on Wednesday and goes through Sunday. NASCAR is an event, not just a game, and we like to say if you haven't felt it, you can't understand it. Our daily schedule is listed on giant four-foot by eight-foot boards around the property. It's on our website, in the fun guide, and on our mobile app. Be sure to review it before you arrive at the track, so you don't miss any events.
Ok. That's enough for your first day!
Remember you can always give us a call at (603) 783-4931 and when you are on property ask any of the NHMS team members. We are here to make you visit incredible. We can't wait to see you on race day!