A big part of what makes NASCAR such a fantastic sport to watch is the variety of action you’ll experience in one race – from nerve-racking overtakes to spectacular crashes and last-lap shockers, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. But to truly love NASCAR is to make the step from 2D to 3D and make the journey to attend a championship race. The community is huge, meaning if you turn up to a NASCAR race, you’ll feel like you’ve been united with your tribe!
But which is the best NASCAR race to attend of them all?
Richmond? Martinsville? Talladega? We all love NASCAR for different reasons, short tracks, superspeedway, and road courses all offer a chance to immerse ourselves in a unique atmosphere where you can feel and smell the experience. From the most iconic races to the most bizarre, we’re giving you the lowdown on the best NASCAR races of the season to attend, so you can decide which stop of the calendar sounds most like your vibe.
YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
Perhaps you’ve seen the hit-comedy Talladega Nights, well if you haven’t – Talladega Superspeedway is considered by some to be the best race to attend, famed for its vibrant atmosphere and younger audience, the frighteningly-fast oval nicknamed “Dega” has a constantly rampant, buzzing energy all around.
The track is wide and well-surfaced with one lap 2.6mile distance in a tri-oval configuration. A great feature of Talladega is the width and smoothness of the track with enough room for 3, sometimes 4 cars to race alongside each other. From a viewer’s perspective, Talladega is one of the all-time best tracks to see a NASCAR race, for the history, the vibe, and the fantastic view of the cars.
GoBowling At the Glen at Watkins Glen International
NASCAR at Watkins Glen sees drivers attempt to tame their cars through a series of fast loops, long straights, and tight chicanes, with ample overtaking opportunities every lap, drivers have to choose between defending their position or attacking the car in front.
Seeing the cars behave in this way, sliding and jostling through the turns while carrying toe-curling speeds out of the bends, “The Glen” is a goldmine for the kind of door-to-door action that we rarely get to see throughout the season. On such a demanding track, it often comes down to a battle of attrition as huge pile-ups often lead to multiple retirements.
Despite the hilly nature of the circuit’s location, spectators are treated to many good spots to observe the racing from.
Xfinity 500 from Martinsville
If there was one stop on the NASCAR Cup Series Championship that really separated the “clean” drivers from the more “physical” drivers, Martinsville would be it. Any event held here is full of non-stop action and drama with some drivers not hesitant to give their rivals a little “nudge” if they’re not able to overtake through the narrow, awkward turns that feature just 12° banking.
The vigorous energy of this venue is a fan favorite and with hard-braking zones meaning more time to get a good look at the cars on track, Martinsville is a great choice for fans to see some of the best Cup Series racing of the year.
Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway
Nicknamed “The Lady in Black”, Darlington Raceway is a notoriously-difficult oval for NASCAR drivers to master, with steep banking and odd corner proportions at either end, finding a stable and competitive setup for the car is a big challenge for teams here, so expect to see plenty of carnage as drivers try to make sense of this puzzling track.
Motor racing at Darlington has had a difficult and sometimes controversial past, yet despite suffering low spectator numbers for a while, the past couple of years’ Southern 500 races at Darlington have been some of the most entertaining of the year.
Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway
The Food City Dirt Race stands out as one of the most peculiar races of the season, as an otherwise normal speedway gets converted into a dirt oval a speedway biker would feel at home on. Lovers of drifting will take an instant liking to this unusual race held at Bristol Motor Speedway, Tennessee; it’s one of the only chances to see these 700-horsepower beasts get the rear loose as they drift through the turns, barely able to see through the dust and grit of cars in front.
2021 was a compelling display as drivers got to grips with controlling the cars on a dirt surface, producing many exciting moments and plenty of crashes which highlighted some potential issues with such a wacky idea for a race. For 2022, the race will be held at night in hope of greater visibility for the drivers, which could make for greater viewing pleasure.
Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Held on Memorial Day Weekend, for some, the Coca Cola 600 is the most anticipated race of the season and a wonderful time for celebration. At 600-miles distance, that’s 400 laps, this annual race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina is the longest race of the season and often one of the busiest for attendance. What’s interesting from a spectator’s perspective about the Coca Cola 600 is the timing of the races, with three different stages of the light transition occurring during the race, from glowing sunset to total darkness, the experience for fans is magical.
The Daytona 500
This is the one everyone should have heard of; the Daytona 500 is far from a walk-in-the-park. At 500-miles race distance, it isn’t the longest race of the championship, but in many ways, it’s the biggest and most thrilling.
Often synonymous with the season-opening, the Daytona International Speedway is, without doubt, the most famous track of the NASCAR Cup Series, this goliath stadium is capable of seating more than 100,000 spectators in a newly designed portion of the track. Daytona is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar with drivers completing a 2.5mile lap in under a minute.
Daytona has given us some of the best races of all time and because of that, it’s a race you definitely shouldn’t miss. It might not be easy (or cheap) to get tickets but it really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The prestigious Great Race of America is the one every driver wants to win, and it’s not hard to see why, with a prize of $2million for the winning driver!
To attend a NASCAR championship race is a dream for many of us, yet with long distances between circuits, and the world still in a very uncertain state, if you don’t get a chance to attend a race this year, you can still tune in at home, or watch with your friends and family if you prefer. After watching some of the most classic NASCAR races unfold this year, you’ll be certain of which races you want to see
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