Summer means hot sunny days, plenty of partying and adrenalin-racing action, especially if you'll be hitting the speedways around the country to watch NASCAR, the United State's largest spectator sport. With 75 million fans annually and 150,000 plus attending each race weekend, NASCAR heats up the calendar with series of heart-pounding, fuel-injected events.
Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, FL -- July 5, 2008
Start your vacation off with some serious sports action. Celebrate the Independence Day holiday weekend by witnessing one of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' most exciting night-time spectacles under the lights at Daytona International Speedway (tel. 866/989-RACE; www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com), considered the world center of racing. The sparks will fly as NASCAR's best drivers battle on the historic 31-degree pitch banks at the Coke Zero 400 on July 5, 2008. Fly into Daytona Beach International Airport, or alternatively, Orlando-Sanford (about 34 miles away) and you can easily turn it into a family trip to keep the kids happy (Disney World and Sea World are only a 45-minute drive away). The Speedway offers a "fanzone" which allows fans to walk across the track surface, over the tri-oval area and onto Pit Road. With unprecedented access, fans get a look inside the NASCAR garages and inspection bays and are able to pay tribute to Daytona's greatest racers at the Goodyear Legends of Daytona area.
Ticket and accommodation packages are available through the Daytona International Speedway website including the three-night Allison Tower package at the Doubletree Hotel, located at the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando. The package includes three nights hotel accommodations (July 3 to 6, 2008), a general admission ticket for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on July 4, a reserved Allison Tower ticket for the Coke Zero 400 race on July 5, Saturday admission to an all-you-can eat pre-race buffet (a select group of the drivers will be on site for question and answer sessions throughout the afternoon), a post-race fireworks extravaganza and round-trip bus transportation from the hotel to Daytona International Speedway for the Friday and Saturday races. Prices for singles are $735, $495 for doubles, $445 for triples and $395 for quads. The Weatherly Tower Ticket & Travel package is similar to the above deal but offers a reserved ticket in the Weatherly Tower for Saturday plus admission to the fanzone on Friday and Saturday, a photo in Victory Lane and admission to the Daytona 500 Experience -- a NASCAR attraction. The Weatherly package is priced at $1,125 for singles, $795 for doubles, $755 for triples or $715 for quads. Apart from the race, guests of the Doubletree Hotel can take advantage of its complimentary transportation to a variety of Orlando theme parks including Sea World, Discovery Cove, Wet n' Wild, Islands of Adventure and CityWalk Orlando.
Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN -- July 27, 2008
If you are a NASCAR novice, then why not start out at the home of American racing -- the original speedway -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This historic location has been providing racing enthusiasts with their speed fix for 100 years and the NASCAR Allstate 400 at the Brickyard has been held here since 1994 (the first race other than the Indianapolis 500 to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1916). The Allstate 400 will be held this year on Sunday, July 27 (with a qualifying day on July 26). The speedway has space for a crowd of 400,000, making it the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in history. On the grounds you'll also find the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort. To keep you further entertained, there will be free live musical performances on both the Saturday (The Goo Goo Dolls) and Sunday (The Charlie Daniels band).Tickets for the event are available by phone or online (tel. 800/822-4639; www.allstate400atthebrickyard.com). General gate admission for the Saturday (practice and qualifying) is only $15 and seats for the Sunday race day range from $70 to $90 (the cheaper ($40) and more expensive ($150) seats are already all sold out). Although there aren't ticket/accommodation packages for the Allstate 400 event, there are a dozen or so low-priced hotels and motels located within three miles of the speedway including a Wingate Inn, Comfort Inn, Best Western, Ramada and Sleep Inn. During the race weekend, rooms are still available including the following:
- Comfort Inn & Suites (www.comfortinn.com) -- $180 per night with two queen beds
- Sleep Inn (www.sleepinn.com) -- $149 for a king room
- Best Western Airport Suites (www.bestwesternindiana.com) -- $180 for a queen room
The Centurion Boats at The Watkins Glen International, NY -- August 10, 2008
The race that was named the "Best NASCAR Cup Series Race of 2007" by Sports Illustrated and is of only two road courses on the 36 NASCAR race schedule will be held at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August, 10, 2008. Watkins Glen International is located amidst the rolling hills of the beautiful Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, providing a unique contrast between the sights and sounds of racing and the natural attractions of the Finger Lakes region. Nestled at the southern tip of Seneca Lake, the largest of the five Finger Lakes, Watkins Glen is easily accessed from several cities including Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Binghamton. Apart from watching the races, Watkins Glen offers visitors an opportunity to hike scenic trails within its State Park, climbing through gorges, going through woodlands and passing over and under waterfalls. The track will host a free Saturday night concert included with admission ticket plus other activities including manufactures row with official NASCAR merchandise and a variety of interactive displays. Fly into Buffalo or regional airports in Elmira or Ithaca. Three-night Ticket & Travel packages are available through Race Tickets (tel. 866/989-RACE; www.racetickets.com). Stay at the Owego Treadway Inn and Conference Center overlooking the Susquehanna River for three nights from August 8 to 11, 2008 and receive a reserved ticket in the Frontstretch Grandstand for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series races on Saturday and Sunday (August 9 and 10, 2008), round-trip bus transportation from the hotel to Watkins Glen International and a welcome gifts. Singles are priced at $845, $595 per person based on double occupancy, $545 in a triple room or $495 in a quad room.
The Kansas 400 at Kansas Speedway, KS -- September 28, 2008
This speedway is the only one of its type, offering fans premier seating with a full view of the race action from all seat locations. FanWalk is an interactive area within Kansas Speedway's infield allowing visitors to view garages used by teams during race weekends. Race guests are encouraged to watch and ask questions of the NASCAR inspectors as they look over the cars. Race fans can also hang out in Autograph Alley, watch fan forum press conferences and pole award presentations from the main stage and take photographs in Victory Lane. FanWalk tickets are $15 per day but you must have a grandstand admission ticket, in addition to a FanWalk ticket to gain access. The Speedway is located about 15 miles west of downtown Kansas City and about 20 miles south of Kansas City International Airport. A three-night Sheraton Travel and Ticket package from Race Tickets (tel. 866/989-RACE; www.racetickets.com) includes hotel accommodations at the Sheraton Overland Park Hotel at the Convention Center from September 26 to 29, 2008, reserved tickets for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Saturday and Sunday admission into FanWalk, round-trip shuttle transportation from the hotel to Kansas Speedway and a welcome gift It is price at $1259 for singles, $895 per person in a double room, $845 for triples and $795 for four people sharing.
Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, AL -- October 5, 2008You've seen the film, now visit the site -- Talladega Superspeedway (tel. 877/462-3342; www.talladegasuperspeedway.com) in Talladega, Alabama is home to the Amp Energy 500 on October 5, 2008. Talladega Superspeedway is considered the biggest and fastest motor sports facility in the world and numerous records for both speed and competition have been set here. Fly into Talladega Municipal Airport just down the road, Atlanta (110 miles away) or Birmingham (45 miles). The AMP Energy 500 event weekend features 1,000 miles of racing at NASCAR's most competitive track with the ARCA RE/MAX Series 250 on Friday, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Mountain Dew 250 on Saturday and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500, race on Sunday. If you have some spare time, drop in to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum, located adjacent to the track. The Museum commemorated those who have contributed the most to auto racing either as a driver, owner, developer or engineer (as voted on by a 150-member panel from the worldwide auto racing media). Admission is $10 for adults and free for children six and under. Tickets and packages are available through the speedway website including the three-night Renaissance Ticket and Travel package which includes three nights accommodations at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel in Atlanta (from October 3 to 6, 2008), a reserved ticket in the Allison Grandstand for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday, October 4, a reserved ticket in the Allison Grandstand for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, October 5, a pre-race pit road tour, admission into the Superstretch Club (Sunday Only), a welcome gift and round-trip motor coach transportation from the hotel to Talladega Superspeedway. The package is priced at $835 for singles, $595 for doubles, $545 for triples and $495 for quads. The Hilton package includes three nights hotel accommodations at the Hilton Atlanta Airport Hotel (with its NASCAR themed sports bar featuring 42 television sets, pool tables and bar games), a reserved seat in the Tri-Oval Tower for Saturday and Sunday's events, boxed continental breakfast each morning, round-trip motor coach transportation to and from the Talladega Superspeedway and a welcome gift. Prices are $995 for singles, $745 for doubled, $695 for triples and $645 for quads.
Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, NC -- October 11, 2008The NASCAR Bank of America 500 race will be held at Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte on October 11, 2008. Lowe's is home to night speed racing and this exciting night event draws a crowd of over 200,000. Admission tickets are available through Ticketmaster (tel. 866/448-7849; www.ticketmaster.com) and travel package can be purchased from Raceway Hospitality (www.raceawayhospitality.com). A NASCAR weekend package includes two nights hotel accommodations (October 9 and 10, 2008) at the Embassy Suites Charlotte -- Airport Hotel, breakfast daily, airport shuttle, new Veranda seating with a view of the entire track and pit road for the Saturday night Sprint Cup race, Speedway Club access, private round-trip luxury motor coach transportation to and from the race, private catered hospitality at the Speedway prior to the race, food and beverages (including beer), pre-race pit passes (guests must be age16 or older for pit road access), all taxes and gratuities. The package is priced at $795 for singles, $625 per person based on double occupancy, $585 for triples and $565 for four people.
If watching the race just isn't enough for you, try the Richard Petty Driving Experience (tel. 800/BE-PETTY; www.1800bepetty.com). The Richard Petty Driving Experience offers exclusive ride-alongs following each NASCAR race at Lowe's. Each ride-along participant will receive three laps in a NASCAR Cup-style stock car at speeds approaching 160 mph in cars driven by professional instructors. Prices range from $109 for a ride-along to $2,599 for the full driving experience.
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