CONCORD, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — “The atmosphere, the food, the people, people hollering, screaming.”
NASCAR fan Joey Moore knows it’s racing time.
“The cars go by, you can feel it, you can hear it, smell it,” he said.
The Coca-Cola 600 is back in town for its 64th year, and thousands of fans are here to celebrate. Scott Cooper with the Charlotte Motor Speedway says fans purchased tickets from 49 states and 18 foreign countries as far as Tanzania, Australia and Switzerland.
“You just don’t see an event throughout the mid-Atlantic states that takes place on an annual basis like the Coca-Cola 600 that draws that kind of fan excitement and that sort of international flavor every year,” Cooper said.
For some fans, it’s their first time stepping foot on speedway grounds. Bob Rhea and his wife drive four hours from Knoxville, Tennessee.
“This is our first Coca-Cola 600,” Rhea beamed. “We’ve been to several NASCAR tracks, but we’ve heard this is one of the best, the Granddaddy, the longest race. So that’s why we chose to come to Charlotte and watch the race.”
And for others, it’s a staple vacation tradition for the entire family.
“As soon as I came up the hill, like with the camper and everything, he went nuts just when he saw the track,” Chris Hart said as he stood with his son Banks. “And we watched some of the practice today and, you know, he really enjoys it. And it makes me feel good that he enjoys the stuff that I enjoy also.” He says his other son was his way.
Fans can expect tributes to veterans throughout the entire weekend — including a moment of remembrance during Sunday’s pre-race.
“You’ll see military themes throughout everything taking place this weekend from the fan zone to the ceremonies,” Cooper said. “It’ll be as part of the pre-race on Sunday with the Coca-Cola 600 right in to a moment of remembrance. When we stop the race at the midpoint and have a moment of remembrance to honor those that have given the ultimate sacrifice. You don’t see that in any other professional sport, but it’s important.”
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Cooper says the weekend features more than just the race. There’s a large military presence with Memorial Day weekend, and two days of live music.
“The fans will see so much here,” he said. “This is like a giant party and then the race just happens to break out. I mean, Circle K Speed Street is amazing. We’ve got interactive displays. We’ve got military displays this year from several of the different branches of the armed forces. We’ve got concerts, everything from an AC-DC cover band called Dirty Deeds that’s going to rock the house tonight following the Truck Series Race to Jake Owen tomorrow night.”