Author: Dawson Haywood
Every Memorial Day Weekend at the intersection of Bruton Smith Boulevard and US Route 29 thousands of people from Cabarrus County and around the United States gather to celebrate and honor the military personnel who died for the United States of America at an event all NASCAR and racing fans know as the Coca-Cola 600.
There is no doubt that Charlotte Motor Speedway is the safest place you can be on Memorial Sunday. Thousands of military personnel gather around the track to honor those that came before them. People who have not lived in Cabarrus County long are caught off guard on race day because of the multiple flyovers that occur over the track and surrounding neighborhoods. People who are not familiar with the event may think that a war is breaking out because each year there are pre-race military demonstrations that occur within the speedway. This in and of itself is worth the price of admission. It’s not every day you get to see helicopters flying what seems like ten feet in front of you followed by military personnel dropping in and demonstrating practices they do to prepare them for overseas challenges. As a kid, and even an adult, experiencing this is arguably the coolest thing ever.
On top of military demonstrations, Charlotte Motor Speedway generally invites bands to perform pre-race. In 2017 the Coca-Cola 600 hosted Lynyrd Skynyrd before the Military Demonstrations and the race. Needless to say, the place was rocking to Free Bird, Sweet Home Alabama, and other Lynyrd Skynyrd hits. Each year they always have some artist or band come on to perform for fans before the race.
Surrounding Charlotte Motor Speedway you will find thousands of fans camping, some being out there a week before the race. If you do not have the finances to attend the race, just go walk around the campgrounds. You’re sure to find some characters out there.
I haven’t even touched on the actual race itself yet. Charlotte is home to many major race teams and this race is almost the equivalent to NFL teams playing the conference championship in their home stadium. Many fans dictate who their favorite drivers are because of this race.
Thinking back to the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 I watched as Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch battled for the entire race for first place until they had to pit late into the race which led Jimmy Johnson to take over as the race leader. Truex and Busch were catching up and fast once they left the pits thanks to their fresh tires. Unfortunately for Johnson, who was on his way to win his fifth Coca-Cola 600, ran out of gas with two laps to go resulting in Austin Dillon taking the lead and eventually win the race. It was without a doubt the best race I had ever watched.
If you can make it out to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend you should. Other than the Super Bowl I doubt you will find a better event to attend. Race tickets are not super expensive and a lot comes included with the price of admission. NASCAR is the most engaging sports organization there is. From the cheapest $25 ticket to the most expensive luxury suit ticket, you are guaranteed to have a great day at Charlotte Motor Speedway.