NASCAR remains in Charlotte this week, but this race is the real deal. Following the All-Star Race, we’re back to regular racing with the Coca-Cola 600. It’s the longest race on the schedule, so you’ll be spending a lot of time at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS). What do you need to know before Sunday night? Check out our five Fast Facts below.
1. If you have a suite ticket, you’ll have to leave your cooler
Like most tracks, Charlotte Motor Speedway allows fans to bring one cooler into the racetrack. Here, it can be a soft or hard-sided cooler up to 14 x 14 x 14 in size. However, there’s a caveat: No food or drink can be taken up to the Speedway Club or suite levels. So if you’re tailgating and have a ticket for one of those areas, make sure you don’t bring in your leftovers.
2. Here’s another track where the handicapped parking gets a little strange
Remember when we told you Bristol Motor Speedway requires an application for reserved handicapped parking? CMS isn’t as complicated, but it does have its own hoop to jump through. To get a guaranteed handicapped parking spot, you must specifically purchase a handicapped seat in either the Ford or Toyota Fourth Turn Terrace. These seats are also not available online, you’ll need to call the box office to complete your transaction by phone.
If you’d rather not sit in that specific area, CMS also offers handicapped parking in the Orange Zone on the frontstretch and Green Zone on the backstretch. Those spaces aren’t reserved, so you’re taking a chance trying to park there.
3. If you’re tailgating with your family, check out the non-alcoholic sections
Some tracks have Family Campgrounds. CMS has those too, but it also has specific areas of the racetrack designated as “non-alcoholic sections” where the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages are not allowed. If you’re at all concerned about how rowdy the crowd might get, these sections may be a great place for you. There are two such sections, in the Chrysler seating area and at the end of the Toyota Fourth Turn Terrace.
4. Charlotte offers a huge variety of ticket upgrades
We’ve all heard the expression “bring the party to the racetrack;” but at Charlotte, they’re really doing everything they can for tailgaters to continue their festivities inside the gates. They offer three different ticket additions that allow access to various parties. Our favorite is the “Coca-Cola Party Pass,” which involves VIP pre-race appearances from Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers Joey Logano, Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman on top of all the food and drink. There’s also a craft beer tour ticket and a “Whisky River Party Pass” that gives you unlimited mechanical bull rides. You certainly won’t see any of this in any other sport.
5. You can bring a member of the military to the race
This isn’t strictly about tailgating, but it’s a great cause that everyone ought to know about. CMS has a “Let The Troops Race” program that lets you make a $25 donation. A ticket is purchased for the USO of North Carolina, which distributes them to men and women of the armed forces to attend any of the season’s three NASCAR events. Simply call the box office to get involved. Why not share the fun of race weekend with someone who’s stuck their neck out for our country?
The Coca-Cola 600 takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 24 at 6 p.m. ET.