Though NASCAR was forged in Daytona Beach, Fla., it has deep Carolinas roots. Some of the sport's historic tracks, such as North Wilkesboro and North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, have closed or fallen off the schedule. However, there are still plenty of places to taste the NASCAR experience, as well as other forms of motorsports, and reflect on its history in the Carolinas. Observer NASCAR writer Jim Utter picked five to check out:
NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte: The newest and perhaps most comprehensive site housing the history of NASCAR within the Carolinas and beyond. The hall officially opened this month and honors NASCAR greats - founders, drivers, team owners, crew members and others. Various interactive displays and simulators are mixed with numerous historic artifacts. Admission: $19.95; $17.95 for 60 and older and for military/veterans (with ID); $12.95 for ages 5-12; 4 and younger, free. June hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (to 8 p.m. Thursdays; noon-8 p.m. Sunday). Details: 704-654-4400; www.nascarhall.com.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord: There's racing galore at CMS, including three visits annually from NASCAR's top series, driving schools, a nearby dirt track and zMax Dragway, which hosts two NHRA events each season. Motion pictures such as "Days of Thunder," "Speedway" and "Stroker Ace," and even music videos such as Tracy Lawrence's "If the Good Die Young," have been filmed at the speedway. Details: 800-455-3267; www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
Darlington Raceway, Darlington, S.C.: "The Track Too Tough to Tame" was NASCAR's first superspeedway. Since 1950, names including Baker, Flock, Thomas, Pearson, Yarborough, Petty and Earnhardt have visited victory lane. Also on the property is the Darlington Raceway Museum, which houses the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame. Admission: $5; 12 and younger free with paying adult. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Details: 843-395-8821; www.darlingtonraceway.com.
N.C. Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Mooresville: This hall is dedicated to all types of racing - from drag racing to stock cars. The museum houses more than 35 cars that represent and help relive some of racing's greatest moments in North Carolina history. Numerous displays and showcases are continually rotated and updated. Admission: $6; $4 for ages 4-12; 3 and younger, free. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Details: 704-663-5331; www.ncarhof.com.
Myrtle Beach Speedway, Myrtle Beach: Over the years, this 0.538-mile asphalt oval has been the training ground for some of NASCAR's biggest stars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and four-time champion Jeff Gordon. All four generations of Pettys and all three generations of Earnhardts have raced here. Details: 843-236-0500; www.myrtlebeachspeedway.com.