When attending your first NASCAR event, many things should be taken into consideration. Cost is the obvious one. Tickets won't be the only purchase, obviously. You still have to think about parking, food, and extra miscellaneous expenses. Let's not forget what you should bring either. This guide is a compilation of what you need to know from a number of sources. In other words, this will be a one-stop-shop for those seeking info on how to get the most out of their first NASCAR experience.
Also here's a guide that can shed some light on questions you may have about stock car racing in general, such as why they name a race with a number, and why they drive in a zig zag pattern behind the pace car:
A breakdown of the "knitty gritty"
How much does a ticket cost?
The cost of a ticket greatly depends on what type of race it is. A ticket to see a qualifying race could be $10, but the average secondary market price to a big event such as the Daytona 500 could run $260 a ticket. It all depends on what you want to see and where. When pricing tickets, the best place to begin your search would be at nascar.com. There you will find the list of future races, and links to purchasing tickets.
As it's been said before, the price of admission to a stock race greatly depends on where the event takes place and what the event is. For example, the average cost for a ticket to a NASCAR event is $60 or so, such as the 1000bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Super Speedway, which is $65. Yet a ticket to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway starts at $139.
Families or Groups
Many tracks have deals for families. Check the track that you are going to for family or group packages. Also, many deals exist for the young ones. NASCAR has a section on their website called Kids TIX. Many races allow kids 12 and under to attend for $10 to $29.
Keep an eye out for special package deals
Each track marches to the beat of its own drum. Some have deals, and others do not. Still one should be on the look out for packages to make their first experiences a bit more special. For instance, Texas Motor Speedway offers a Sights and Sounds 2 Pack. The package includes 2 AAA Texas 500 tickets, plus a Racing Electronics scanner, and two headsets so that you can listen to the chatter between drivers and crews for $99.
Best places to sit
In case you're wondering where you should sit to get the best experience, tickpick.com breaks it down.
LOWER LEVEL SEATING
Pros – Closest seats to the action makes for an unforgettable and exhilarating experience where the entire race is unfolding right in front of you. You can literally feel the rumble of the cars as they drive past.
Cons – Much noisier and shaky than the upper level, can be a bit dusty from the exhaust and particles being kicked up. You will certainly want want ear plugs for small children and perhaps yourself if you’re sitting down close to the track.
UPPER LEVEL SEATING
Pros – Much less noise from the cars and added height of the seats allow for a much better view of the entire track at venues.
Cons – Further from the action.
For those looking for a deal on seats, many options lie in-wait. In this modern age, if you look hard enough, you can find a deal on almost anything, especially event tickets. Don't forget that some people have season tickets and cannot attend every event, so they unload their open seats for a discounted price. Seat Geek is a good place to look.
How much is parking?
Part of the NASCAR experience is about the festivities prior, during and after the race. Tailgating is just as popular with this sport as it is football. Many hardcore fans stay the weekend of the race. This not only adds to possible activities to enjoy, but it also makes it important to arrive early so you can at least get a good parking spot.
Parking can be anywhere between $10 to $75 depending on the track and event. Some tracks provide free parking. You should still check out the track's website to get the specifics on parkings costs.
Make sure you have cash for parking. The parking itself could be the single-largest fee – outside of the ticket price itself. Many vendors do not accept credit cards. It may be the modern age, but some still do it old school. It at least never hurts to be prepared. If you’re lucky enough to swipe your card for parking, at least you have some extra scratch for food, beer, and or souvenirs. All in all, if you have enough cash in-hand, it should get you into the gate. There you can find an ATM to replenish your cash stores, but it’s best to come over prepared because ATMs especially at event centers tend to gouge you with transaction fees.
How much is food?
Expect premium prices that you would typically find at any major sporting event. You know, $9 hot dogs, and $13 beers.
Remember, some vendors may not accept debit or credit cards, especially the folks walking the stands.
You should consider bringing your own food and drink. This could prevent you from breaking the bank on a soda that is two times the price of what you could have brought yourself. Check with the rules of the track you are going to before you bring your cooler along. Some tracks let you bring your own refreshments and others don’t. Some may have limitations on how big your cooler can be. Again, check your track's website for further info.
From the Texas Motor Speedway:
"Only one cooler per ticket holder in the grandstands. Bags such as backpacks, fanny packs etc. are allowed, but are subject to inspection by security officials and can be no larger than 14” X 14” X 14.”
Wondering what the best tracks are food wise?
Check this out:
Food Lover's Guide to NASCAR
What should I bring or wear?
Tinitus isn’t fun.
"Tinnitus (pronounced ti-ni-tis) - or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds is the most common cause of tinnitus." WebMD.com
This is a very important item everyone in your party should have, especially the little ones. Walmart has a multipack of those squishy foam plugs that you twist and slide into your ears. The plus side is that they are cheap enough to throw away after the race. If you forget your ear plugs, don’t worry. Most tracks have vendors that will sell them to you.
Just in case you don’t quite believe how loud a stock car race can be, take it from the perspective of a first-time-goer to a race at the Dover Speedway.
“WOW…. I’m not kidding — my ears were ringing within minutes of the green flag dropping. The moment the first jet blower truck hit the track to sweep off some light debris, my hands were over my ears. But everything at a NASCAR race after the green flag first drops represents the loudest spectator experience I’ve ever had. And it was great fun!”
Dress for the season, but comfort is paramount. A NASCAR race is at least 3 hours long, and out in the elements. Pick out each article of clothing with that in mind.
This goes hand-in-hand with clothing. Not only will you be out in the weather, but you'll be doing a bit of walking as well. Take into consideration the walk to and from your vehicle, then how much walking you could do at the track while looking food or a bathroom, as well as a possible hike up and down the bleachers to and from your seat. You may regret wearing those flip flops or pumps.
Sunglasses will not only protect your eyes from hours of the sun beating down on you, but will also protect you from flying debris from the occasional crash. With a crash comes flying debris, that’s just a matter of physics. Then comes the clean up which involves kitty litter, and a jet dryer to blow it all away before the race continues.
“Then the jet dryer came along — and it blew all that grit right up into my face! Ha ha… It was fun, and it helped make this race all the more “interactive” for me — but I’m glad I wore sunglasses, because they kept all that debris, grit, and other stuff out of my eyes.”
Treat it like going to any outdoor event for a prolonged period of time in the sun. If you can burn there, you can surely burn at a track. Walmart sells a high SPF sunscreen that is resistant to sweat and moisture.
Portable Seat Cushion
Getting your tickets is only half the battle. The other is making it from your home to your seat. Many sources stress arriving early enough to give yourself time for parking, getting into the gate, gathering refreshments/knick knacks, the pre-event bathroom pit stop, and finally sitting down in your seat.
It is advised that you find your seat within 30 minutes of the green flag. The lines through security can take some time. Coming prepared, and arriving early could make the difference between a fun and a stressful outing.