This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California. The track is a two mile oval with speeds over 200 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR schedule. The track is located approximately one hour east of Los Angeles and is the only visit NASCAR makes to Southern California all year. I took along a couple of my friends who had never been before and they were blown away. A major perk of going to a NASCAR race is the tailgating experience beforehand. We had to get up at 6 am (!!) and left around 7 am to get to the track around 8:30 am. With a 12:30 pm start time we were able to get a nice head start and head into the track area around 11:00 am.
NASCAR travels to different race tracks across the country every week which leads to a real “traveling circus” vibe. When you get to the main area outside the track grandstands you can really see that mentality. There are many different food vendors including Pink’s hotdogs, King Taco, local mom & pop stores offering barbequed turkey legs, kettle corn, etc. Many of the series’ main sponsors have pop-up tents where they offer free giveaways or a close-up look at the race cars. The race at Fontana this year included a sponsorship deal with Warner Brothers for the upcoming “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” movie. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Batman) and Jimmie Johnson (Superman) had specialized cars and apparel just for the one weekend including life-size models of the costumes and the Batmobile featured in the movie.
Once you’ve taken in the carnival-like atmosphere it’s time for the race itself. One aspect that is very difficult to get across is the sheer LOUDNESS of the cars themselves. Once the cars take off after the green flag it is impossible to hear anything other than the roar of the engines making one have to literally yell at your friends in order for them to hear you. An intoxicating smell of burning rubber, gasoline, and fair foods makes its way through the stands throughout. After the race is over there is a bit of shellshock involved as you no longer have sensory overload. Overall my friends and I had a great time and I would highly recommend anyone looking for a different kind of sports adventure to check it out!