Hey, NASCAR fans: Are you ready for a little “Free Bird” and a whole lot of Southern rock?
As part of their latest tour – which kicked off this month in Detroit – Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd will bring one of the greatest guitar solos (and one of the most-requested songs) of all-time to life during a pre-Coca-Cola 600 concert at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The race is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 28.
“We can’t wait to get to rocking with all the race fans,” Skynyrd lead singer Johnny Van Zant said in a prepared statement. “This is going to be one of the coolest concerts we’ll play all year. It’s not often that you get the chance to perform before something as true-blue American as the Coca-Cola 600. Everybody had better be ready because it’s going to get wild.”
The group has not toured since 2012, when it co-headlined Charlotte’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (now PNC Music Pavilion) with the now-defunct Allman Brothers Band.
And who knows? This may wind up being one of your last opportunities to see Skynyrd – which has just one founding member left in its lineup (Gary Rossington) – perform in Charlotte.
In an interview last month with The Oakland Press, Rossington said: “I’m sure we’ll end up doing a farewell tour in the next few years; I don’t know when, exactly, but we’re getting old here. Touring’s gotten to be harder, but we still love it. It’s just a gas to play to people and see their expression and their feelings. It’s just a dream come true.”
Since Rossington founded the group in 1964 with teenage friends Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns, Allen Collins and Larry Junstrom, Skynyrd has recorded 14 studio albums, sold more than 30 million records and landed “Sweet Home Alabama” in movies from “Forrest Gump” to “Despicable Me.”
(On a somber note, 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Van Sant and five others.)
As for the Charlotte Motor Speedway show, Skynyrd’s is another in a long line of big-name Coca-Cola 600 concerts that in recent years have featured Lee Brice (2016), ZZ Top (2015) and Brantley Gilbert (2014).
The band will perform its Charlotte Motor Speedway concert from a stage located on pit road near the frontstretch scoring pylon, and will be shown on the track’s giant TV. Coca-Cola 600 “pit pass” and “driver intro pass” holders will have stage-area infield access. Tickets: 1-800-455-FANS or www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
Also: Country music star Justin Moore – whose hits include “You Look Like I Need a Drink” and “Small Town USA” – will perform for race fans on May 20 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, prior to the NASCAR All-Star Race. Details: www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.