NASCAR's 10 Most Fan-Friendly Tracks

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2010

NASCAR's 10 Most Fan-Friendly Tracks

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    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    NASCAR fans are a diverse group, but no longer do they just buy a ticket to sit in the stands and watch the race.

    Today's NASCAR fan wants to have a racing experience that puts them close to the drivers and cars which are such a big attraction even when they aren't going around the track.

    Certainly the souvenir trailers for the various teams is a place to stop and check out your favorite driver's latest must have item.  All tracks have midway type areas for your shopping pleasure.

    For those who choose to travel by a vehicle suitable for campground facilities, the amenities available to the serious and casual camper are important to enhance the overall experience at the track.

    Race track food ranks high with fans not only for taste, but cost.  A family of four can spend a vast sum on the typical track menu items and beverages.

    Racetracks have found a new fan friendly perk in the of all-u-can eat specialty ticket packages.  For some this can mean a considerable savings being that the tracks include a decent seat for viewing the race.

    Fan Zones, beer patios and areas for entertainment seem to be spreading to most all the tracks on the NASCAR schedule, some being more elaborate than others.  Tracks, like Daytona International Speedway actually removed seats on the back stretch for their newest beverage patio.

    Interaction with NASCAR drivers is becoming mandatory.  The Fan Zones offer driver question and answer sessions and limited autographs.  The larger Fan Zone areas like Daytona allow viewing directly into the NASCAR garages with a chance for an autograph from your favorite driver.

    The Fan Zone ticket purchased along with a regular race ticket for the grandstands has made it possible for fans to go out on the track across the frontstretch for entertainment and driver introductions prior to the race.

    This is the place to be if you want to feel up close and personal with the drivers and the cars.  Restrictions certainly apply, but you may get some great photo opportunities.

    Many tracks have museums attached to the racing facility which is always a fun place to take a look at NASCAR history.

    A couple tracks spread their racing related activities over a week or two with many off premise racing related fan experiences at different venues.

    Tracks vary with the how elaborate the pre-race activities may be, but usually you will find a concert, sky-divers, fireworks and a plethora of other surprises.

    NASCAR fans may sip wine and eat sushi in California while hot dogs and beer are popular at most tracks. 

    The fan may travel hundreds of miles in a million dollar motorcoach, a recycled school bus or the family vehicle.

    For some the family may scrimp and save all year for one special race.  Others travel to many races and make close friendships with those who do the same.

    NASCAR has realized that it doesn't matter what socio-economic level the fan comes from, it is important to give them the best possible racing experience at whatever track they choose to make their trek to.

    Though all the tracks are fan-friendly, these ten excel in some regard to be just a little more special in the NASCAR race experience they offer.

    The tracks are listed in no particular order.  Feel free to leave comments about tracks you may have visited that perhaps should have been on this list.

Richmond International Raceway: "America's Premier Short Track"

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    Richmond International Raceway has been known as the place to race before the Chase since the playoff format was implemented by NASCAR.

    RIR is a .75 mile track with 14 degree turns.  The track is part of a multi-purpose complex that can host nearly 100,000 race fans.

    The midway at the track is one of the largest interactive racing and shopping experiences on the NASCAR schedule.

    Every grandstand seat has a view of the 153 ft. tall Video Scoring Tower that supports four giant video screens.

    The Fan Fest presented by Chevy located in the Midway is free for ticket holders.  They will see displays, games, driver appearances, children's activities and more.

    Visitors to the track can enjoy historic Richmond and all the surrounding area offers to enhance your visit to Richmond International Speedway.

Michigan International Raceway: Motor City Racing Hub

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    photo credit: MIS.com

    Michigan International Speedway is a 1,400 acre plus racing facility in the lush Irish Hills of Michigan not far from Detroit.

    It is a two mile facility with 18 degree banking and sweeping turns that make for high speeds and cars able to run three or four grooves wide.

    MIS can play host to some 130,000 plus fans, many of which have worked in the automotive industry or just plain dig NASCAR racing.

    Construction of the track began in 1967 and Cale Yarborough won the first NASCAR race June 15, 1969.

    Camping facilities are available at the manicured facility.  Children can test their ability in the Kid Zone rock climbing wall, obstacle course or other interactive activities.

    Michigan International will host two races for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 2011, one being the  Father's Day race June 19 and the other on August 21.

    This is a track owned by International Speedway Corporation and has all the expected amenities and activities a fan could want.  The speedway is set in park-like surroundings and is a really great place to go for some fast racing.

Texas Motor Speedway: You Never Know What to Expect

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    Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5 mile track with 24 degree banking in the turns and five degree banking on the straightaways.  Sitting on some 1,500 acres, the track can host in excess of 150,000 fans.

    Eddie Gossage is the President of TMS and is a legendary track promoter who has been involved in NASCAR racing some 30 years.  Working under the guidance of racing guru, Bruton Smith, you never know what festivities will await you at the track.

    Speedway World is the official place to go for merchandise, supplies, information on tours that include behind-the-scenes areas.

    The track located in the Ft. Worth area opened in 1996.  It is modeled like Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway with much the same amenities for the fans.  You can rest assured that your visit to this track will include some fast, exciting racing and much more.

Bristol Motor Speedway: World's Fastest Half Mile

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    Bristol Motor Speedway, located near scenic mountain vistas, is a half mile tract that can seat some 160,000 fans in a bowl known for it's thunderously loud racing.

    Bristol is a track every true NASCAR fans yearns to visit at least once.  The track opened in 1961 and is unique with it's short straightaways and two pit roads.

    The track is very fan-friendly in many ways, but the Fan Friday event that allows fans to participate with drivers in question and answer sessions, interactive games, food and a host of activities for $5 is a bargain.

    The spring race also has an exhibition race with late model stock cars driven by some of the great NASCAR legends.

    Camping is huge at this track with some beginning their stay a week or two before the race weekend.

    The biggest negative for those traveling to BMS is inadequate lodging nearby.  If you have a camper, this is the place to bring it.  There are a lot of motels, but one way travel time could be up to two hours.

    Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tn. is awesome just to look at, but watching a race will blow you away.

Atlanta Motor Speedway: Southern Racing Hospitality

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    photo credit: racintoday.com/google images

    Atlanta Motor Speedway is a beautiful 1.54 mile track located just south of Atlanta.  The fast track is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year.  AMS is owned by Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsport Inc., so exciting fan experiences are mandatory.

    Fans travel to this track not only because of the high speed racing, but for the hope of seeing another photo finish race or an event that will make the history books as has often happened.

    AMS has been the sight of two NASCAR races each year, but starting in 2011 it will be just a Labor Day weekend event.

    Camping is a very big deal at this track, but the close proximity to motels in an around Atlanta make for adequate lodging.

    The pre-race party on Labor Day weekend included a concert by Foreigner.  For $49 you got stage-front access to the concert and driver introductions.  Fans must have the mandatory event ticket to purchase the bonus ticket for the party on the front stretch.

    An example of fan appreciation was the Monday Breakfast with Bruton following the Sunday NASCAR Sprint Cup race.  Show your ticket from the Emory Healthcare 500 and you could enjoy a breakfast feast while sitting in the NASCAR Nationwide garage.

    Southern hospitality and fast action-packed racing awaits you at this beautiful venue.

Daytona International Speedway: NASCAR's Center of Speed

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    Daytona International Speedway is the sight of the "Great American Race", the Daytona 500.

    The 2.5 mile, high-banked tri-oval has a 180 acre infield with 29 acre Lake Lloyd along the backstretch.  This year after July's race events, the track is being repaved, so fans that attend the Daytona Speedweek races in February can expect even faster speeds much like Talladega.

    The Sprint FANZONE is a first class adventure for fans with windows that allow you to view the Cup drivers and their teams in action and just maybe you will get an autograph from your favorite driver.

    The Sprint FANZONE Pre-Race Pit Pass allows you to walk on the famous grassy expanse and onto pit road for pre-race activities and driver introductions.  There will be a concert included somewhere along the way prior to the race.

    You can count on entertainment, driver question and answer sessions, refreshments at the Budweiser Bistro, NASCAR inspection viewing, show cars and a view of garage action from the Fandeck.

    With so much to do at this International Speedway Motorsports track owned by the France family,  fans will not have a moment of boredom with the track activities, Daytona USA and of course all the happenings in the Daytona Beach area.

    In July they do it all again for the Fourth of July weekend race action.

    Daytona International Speedway is another must for the true NASCAR fan.  If you are not a fan, a visit to this facility just might make you one.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway: One More Reason To Go to Las Vegas

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    Las Vegas Motor Speedway is another track owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., located just north of the Las Vegas strip.

    The 1.5 mile track with 20 degree banking in the turns is part of a complex that consists of a dirt track, asphalt short track and drag racing facility.

    In 2007 the Neon Garage opened which some have called the "NASCAR Disneyland."  The Neon Garage provides areas for fans to watch drivers and crews while having access to continuous entertainment and even a view of the winner's circle, as the driver steps from his car after securing a victory.

    Not only are there great things for fans to do at the track besides watch the race, but there is so much to do in and around Las Vegas.

    The Thursday before the race weekend, fans line the Las Vegas strip at night to watch the parade of NASCAR haulers.  It is a beautiful sight with the backdrop of the hotel glitz and glamour.

    It's Vegas Baby!

Dover International Speedway: It's A Monster

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    photo credit: DIS website

    Dover International Speedway is a one mile, concrete track with 24 degree banking in the turns.  The track is part of an entertainment complex that includes a harness racing track and the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino owned by Dover Downs Entertainment.

    This track is nicknamed the "Monster Mile" and is represented by "Miles" the 46 foot tall fiberglass monster monument at Victory Plaza.

    The Fan Zone will host autograph sessions and entertainment can be seen on the Victory Plaza stage.  On September 25, Danica Patrick will appear at a free question and answer session at the base of the Monster Monument.

    This racing facility has a structure unique to the sport.  The Monster Bridge is a glass enclosure that sits 29 feet above the track and spans the racing surface.

    Those fortunate enough to be invited to the plush 56-seat, climate controlled, state of the art structure get a view of NASCAR racing unlike any other.

    The Dover, Delaware racing facility is located near many large cities, so it is the perfect place to spend part of a mini-vacation.

Pocono Raceway: Family Owned, Family Friendly

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    Pocono Raceway is a unique composite race track that some call a "roval" because it is part oval and somewhat like a road-course with it's dramatic turns.

    The track is owned by the Mattioli family who also owns South Boston Speedway.

    Pocono is located in the beautiful Pocono mountains approximately 90 miles from New York City and Philadelphia.

    One of the most important fan friendly attractions at this track is the Long John.  It is the biggest toilet facility perhaps in the world with 1,000 stalls. 

    The Midway has 40-foot spruce trees and 200 picnic tables with scattered gazebos.

    Any fan with a grandstand ticket can purchase the Tricky Triangle Package which includes a pit tour pass, food and beverages, fan activities, entertainment and more for just $99.

    The Paddock Pass gets you up close to the garage activity where you may get some good camera shots and maybe even an autograph or two.

    This is not the track to go to if you want glitz and spectacular structures.  It is the place to go in a beautiful setting if you want exciting racing in a clean and very fan-friendly venue.

Charlotte Motor Speedway: Racing In The Heart Of NASCAR Land

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    Charlotte Motor Speedway, formerly known as Lowe's Motor Speedway for many years is a 1.5 mile track that opened just outside Charlotte, North Carolina in 1960.

    This track is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc.  It also hosts Legends racing, dirt track racing and the new state of the art four-lane ZMax Dragway.

    Fans can always expect cool pre-race events besides the concerts.  The October race will feature a Hall of Fame package starting at $99 which will take you on a tour of the NASCAR Hall of Fame with a chance to meet Richard Petty and Junior Johnson along with a front stretch seat for the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

    There are many places for the campers not only in the infield, but around the track as well.

    The perks of going to this first class racing facility don't end at the track. Fans can travel to the many nearby race shops, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and all the exciting entertainment to be found in the Charlotte area.

    The city of Charlotte converts their downtown area to a racing venue with more than a week of events related to the May racing at CMS.  Charlotte knows NASCAR and every effort will be made to give the race fan an unforgettable time in the racing hub of the south.