Charlotte: A Guide to NASCAR City

‘Drivers, start your engines,’ booms the race’s grand marshal. The roar of 40 highly strung race cars burble on to the asphalt oval for a rolling start. When the pace car pulls off, the racers thunder forward, launching into triple-figure speeds. This is NASCAR in Charlotte, ‘America’s Home for Racing’.

The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is the epicentre of NASCAR – the US-only National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

NASCAR has been held in some guise at the city’s oval speedway since the very first race on 19 June 1960, and we’re here to help you find the best hotspots with car hire in Charlotte.

Stock shops and garages

For NASCAR fans, the city of Charlotte is something of a sporting pilgrimage. Headquarters for several of the sport’s most successful teams, the city is stacked with race bases and team garages, many of which are open to the public during the week (weekends are for racing).

For an access-all-areas experience, head to the headquarters of the Stewart-Haas team, where you can view several winning racers and the set of Ford Mustangs the team currently runs. Elsewhere, the Chip Ganassi Racing shop gives you a top-down view of the team at work, with fans watching the race day preparations from a raised viewing platform.

NASCAR royalty: The Intimidator

Fans of the late, great Dale Earnhardt should be sure to visit the museum dedicated to ‘The Intimidator’. Dale Earnhardt Inc showcases several of the fabled racer’s suits and championship-winning cars, alongside all seven of Earnhardt’s Winston Cup trophies.

Known for his aggressive style, daring manoeuvres and edge-of-the-seat racing, Earnhardt racked up 76 Winston Cup wins, along with 428 top-10 finishes. He died in 2001 after a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in Florida. In the same race, his son Dale Earnhardt Jr finished second, continuing the families place in top-flight motorsport.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Immerse yourself in the stories of legends at Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame. Opened in 2010, the expansive, sweeping edifice houses a wide array of artefacts from the races of yesteryear.

Nascar hall of fame

Visit the Glory Road, a full-size replica of a banked racing corner that emerges from the building roof, complete with 18 iconic racers. Afterwards, head to the Hall of Honor and discover those that have been inducted into the list, from Earnhardt to the Petty family.

If you think you’ve got what it takes, test your talent on the virtual simulators.

Race day at the Charlotte Motor Speedway

Time your trip to catch race day at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval track where cars can reach up to 200mph.

The Speedway hosts several races throughout the year, the most famous of which is the Memorial Day Coca-Cola 600. The 600-mile endurance race has been held at the self-professed ‘Home for Racing’ since 1960.

Take to the track yourself on one of the Speedway’s Racing Experience packages, which puts you behind the wheel of a mighty NASCAR race car for a few adrenaline-filled laps of this iconic racetrack.

Home of the King

No trip to Charlotte is complete without paying homage to the King of NASCAR himself, Richard Petty. Winner of a record 200 races and sporting seven championship titles, Petty is considered by many to be the greatest driver in the sport’s history.

Credit Raine Carraway

The Richard Petty Museum is within a few hours’ drive of central Charlotte, dedicated to the huge success of the Petty family. NASCAR pioneers, generations of the Petty family have competed in the sport over the years, with Richard Petty’s stint in the mid-20th century being the most celebrated.

Among the racing exhibitions and artefacts, race fans will no doubt recognise Petty’s iconic Plymouth Superbird, as well as iterations of the number-43 race car from across the decades.

NASCAR neighbours

Head out of town to the nearby towns of Concord and Welcome, where you’ll find further team campuses and museums for the hugely successful Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing outfits.

The Richard Childress Racing base is home to some of NASCAR’s most iconic racers, including Dale Earnhardt’s fabled number-three and Kevin Harvick’s Atlanta 2001-winning 29 car. Harvick, racing just three weeks after the death of Dale Earnhardt, won the Atlanta race by just six one-thousandths of a second – one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.

Charlotte’s history is intertwined with that of NASCAR. The real home of American stock-car racing, this North Carolinian city has seen its biggest races, stars and teams find glory within its city boundaries.

Plan your great American NASCAR road trip here

Explore the home of NASCAR for yourself with Hertz. Discover more about car hire in Charlotte, North Carolina here.