Vandals hit NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte protests, exhibits unscathed

The NASCAR Hall of Fame was among the sites hit by vandals, when peaceful protests turned to violence late Wednesday in Charlotte.

On Thursday morning, a street sign hung like a spear from the front window of the hall’s news center, after vandals tried prying out one of the front windows. Windows in the lobby of the adjacent NASCAR Tower were busted out, as were windows at nearby restaurants and two hotels.

The looters apparently failed to get into the Hall of Fame and its exhibits, though there are reports of confrontations with a half a dozen vandals inside the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in one corner of the hall building. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority referred to the incident as “a breach,” but didn’t give information about damages.

One media outlet reported protesters “stormed” the restaurant and then used bottles taken off the tables to smash windows. Furniture inside the restaurant appeared scattered across the floor before dawn Thursday.

It was the same at a nearby Hampton Inn, where plush lobby chairs were piled like a barricade against smashed out doors.

In an update released Friday, city officials say vandals tried to breach the Hall of Fame at two locations, including a window facing the Glory Road exhibit of 18 historic cars. That exhibit circles the building’s Great Hall. The attempt to break the glass there failed, officials said, but damage was sustained.

A few dozen sites in the city – many of them tourist attractions – were hit by vandals in the night. Most of the damage in Charlotte was at the EpiCentre entertainment complex in the heart of the city’s uptown, where businesses saw their facade’s smashed and merchandise looted. The Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets, also sustained window damage and the team’s store in the EpiCentre was looted. The damage was heavy enough that the team store is to remain closed until further notice, officials said.

Damien Monaghan, branch manager in Charlotte for Disaster One, said the Greensboro-based disaster recovery company started receiving calls about damaged businesses in uptown around 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

The company boarded up smashed windows at the Hilton Garden Inn and neighboring Hampton Inn, he said. It could take a week or two for glass repair companies to replace the glass, he said.

“Our concerns is we could have these things ripped back down tonight,” Monaghan said.