NASCAR fans making their way to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend can expect a number of upgrades, including new food and drink options. For the first time, for instance, the speedway has licensed its own craft beer, the 600 Ale.
To drive attendance, leaders in the NASCAR world have been working to make racetracks into attractive hangouts for casual and hardcore fans alike, much like BB&T Ballpark, which boasts craft beer tents, local barbecue vendors and family entertainment.
At the Concord track, a new, 42,000 square-foot sun deck with an expansive dining and entertainment area was recently completed in response to fans who want “new ways” to enjoy NASCAR beyond the traditional track experience, speedway President Marcus Smith has said.
Vendors will be selling the new 600 Ale, made by Cabarrus Brewing Company, at beer gardens across the speedway’s main thoroughfares, track officials say.
The beer’s name is a nod to the Coca-Cola 600 race, which takes place May 28 in Concord. NASCAR’s 10 Days of Thunder kicks off this weekend with the Monster Energy All-Star Race.
Queen City Q has also signed on as the official BBQ restaurant of the speedway, spokesman Scott Cooper said Thursday. The restaurant will have branded concession stands serving their locally smoked BBQ throughout the races over the next 10 days.
The track’s food partner, Levy Restaurants, is launching other new food options this year. They created a Shock Top beer-infused bratwurst, for example. And the Atlanta bakery Delights by Dawn has created alcohol-infused cupcakes that will also be for sale.
Speedway officials say there will also be several food trucks at the track this weekend. And next weekend, the speedway will offer several BBQ smoking and cooking classes for fans.
Here are some other new perks at the track:
▪ A new stage will be up in the 10-acre fan zone. It will feature live music, driver appearances and three live hour-long shows on NASCAR.com.
▪ A “Cars 3” display in the fan zone will include characters and games from the upcoming Disney Pixar film.
▪ Actor Channing Tatum will be the grand marshal for the Coca-Cola 600.
▪ Singer Justin Moore will perform before the All-Star Race on Saturday, and Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform before the Coca-Cola 600.