I grew up watching NASCAR with my dad on Sundays. I also grew up close to the Pocono Raceway and as a kid, I raced quarter midgets at the dirt track just outside of the track. Over the years, I met drivers (and sometimes their kids) like Sterling Marlin, Geoff Bodine, Richard Petty, and even bumped into Jeff Gordon once. Although I don’t watch as much racing as I used to, I still love the sport because it was a part of my life when I was younger. It really is truly an american sport, it didn’t come from anywhere else. NASCAR got it’s start with moonshiners outrunning the authorities and grew from there. I didn’t really know what to expect from the museum and if it would appeal to just today’s NASCAR fan (which is extremely different from the old days), but it didn’t disappoint. There were tributes from all eras of NASCAR racing and all drivers in between. They even paid tribute to Richie Evans who was a modified driver. I have been to other Hall of Fames and they are usually just filled with old memorabilia and I usually get bored within seconds. Not with the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It was extremely interactive and geared towards all ages. They had lots of memorabilia, but also a presentation on the history of Racing in the Belk High Octane Theater, interactive games, and a race simulator. Hubs has talked about visiting and seeing the museum since 2007 when they opened, so it was definitely a bucket list item for him!
When we walked up, I was surprised on the building, it was modern and light and airy. We checked in and was given passes to make our visit more personalized. Our greeter was a woman from Conneticut, who could chat with us about the Lehigh Valley as she had a friend (who also worked there) that had lived in Bethlehem before becoming a Charlotte transplant. Small world!
When you first get in, they take your picture against a green screen and give you a card with a QR code. You can view your pictures online or order them upon leaving.
Next we hit the lower level where we personalized our Hard Cards, which also was a souvenir you got to keep. Everyone gets one with an admission. My guide was Richard Petty. The cards that you had would record your visits and interaction throughout your visit and you could pick your favorite driver to lead the way:) After personalizing our Hard Card, we then watched the History of Nascar in the Belk High Octane Theater. It reminded me of the IMAX movies that you go to at science centers with a large curved screen and surround sound. It was a presentation on the history of NASCAR.
We headed up to the first level where the cars of all the Hall of Fame Inductees were on the Sunoco Glory Road. We walked up the track and read the histories of the people and the tracks that they raced on. You can walk up the track at the inclines at 14 and 33. It’s almost impossible to stand on that banking at 33.
Heading up to the upper levels, they had memerobelia from each decade of NASCAR including what they wore and trophies, to pictures of races. They paid tribute to racers who lost thier lives like Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison as well as paying tribute to racing families like the Petty’s and Earnhardt’s.
Our Favorite part was where you could be a pit crew which was located in the Raceweek section. In Raceweek, you can have the pit crew experience, walking through a real trailer, changing tires and more. Hubs got to try out to see if he could make it as a NASCAR pit member (SPOILER ALERT: He couldn’t but came close:)
They also had smaller versions that kiddos could try too. Little Man must have done the tire change display a million times and at one point we had a small audience because he had it down and the gun itself was almost as big as his body…
They also had a NASCAR simulator, which you qualify to see where you start to make it an authentic experience. Dale Jr. was instramental in developing this technology for a realistic experience.
When you are done with the museum, you exit through the gift shop which has a lot of souvenirs from your visit.
We had a great time. Hubs had always wanted to go and has been a life long race fan, so it was special for him. I would definitely recommend this attraction if you are in town. It is a little pricey for larger families with older kids, however, you can spend a whole day there learning about history, playing the interactive games, and other activities. For families with smaller kiddos, children under 5 are free. There is also additional charges for the simulator and also for the pictures that they take of you.
Some Saving Tips:
- If you have a large family or plan on making a whole NASCAR themed vacation with visiting other NASCAR themed places like Charlotte Motor Speedway or the NASCAR Racing Experience, you may want to think about purchasing the family membership ($150) where you would get free admission for 2 adults and their children (all year), 40% off simulators, $$ off in the gift shop, 10% off gift ticket purchases, a gift pack, discounts on select NASCAR attractions in Charlotte and even select hotel and restaurant discounts.
- If you are a AAA member, bring your card – you will get a free simulator ride!
- Before you go, head over to their website and click on “Special Offers” tab. Sometimes they offer $ off for having a race ticket. Right now Coca Cola is having some specials with admission discounts. Last year for Veteran’s day, they offered 1/2 price tickets for military.
- Go in a group! If you are a local or going in a larger group of people, group rates start at 17 people.
**Thanks to the NASCAR Hall of Fame for providing us with two tickets to visit and to Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority for coordinating our visit. I was not compensated for my review and all opinions are 100% mine, little mans and hubs!