Racing weeks also mean concerts (some of them free)

The Charlotte area will be a center of the motorsports world over the next 10 days, with two of the biggest events on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup racing series scheduled for Charlotte Motor Speedway.

But racing weeks also have become a big time for concerts, with several big-name country and pop acts scheduled to perform at the Speedway and several more in Charlotte’s uptown at the annual Coca-Cola Speed Street festival next week.

“We’re looking to give our fans something extra, to help make a day of it,” said Scott Cooper, vice president of communications at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“Besides,” he added, “we like good music.”

Charlotte Motor Speedway is host to Saturday night’s Sprint Series All-Star race, and the event also will include concerts by country music’s Jake Owen, who has several No. 1 hits, and pop music’s Train, a two-time Grammy winner.

And Darius Rucker, who has several No. 1 country hits after his stint with Hootie and the Blowfish, will sing the national anthem before the race.

Owen, 32, of Vero Beach, Fla., was the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist in 2009. His chart-topping singles include “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and “The One That Got Away.”

Train, out of San Francisco, won two Grammys in 2002 with its “Drops of Jupiter” then returned to prominence in 2009 with “Hey Soul Sister.”

The motorsports-related concerts resume next week, with acts like Thompson Square and 38 Special performing at the free Speed Street festival, and country music’s Brantley Gilbert doing a concert at Charlotte Motor Speedway prior to the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.

And those attending the sold-out Speedway Children’s Charities Gala on Wednesday will see Concord’s Avett Brothers, one of the biggest names in American music.