This week, NASCAR heads back east to Kentucky Speedway in Sparta for another night race. Before you arrive for the Quaker State 400, here are our five Fast Facts that will make your tailgating and race-going experience as easy as possible.
1. Take advantage of the cooler checking stations
Unlike some other tracks, Kentucky sets up designated cooler checking stations to inspect fans’ coolers and keep them from holding up lines at the gate. Of particular interest to tailgate fans is that you can enter and exit with your cooler through marked gates. You’ll have to pass inspection again when you come back, of course, but at Kentucky you can go and fetch something you might’ve left or have a sudden craving for without worrying about getting back into the track.
2. Mind the size of your tailgate area
Kentucky is very specific about the size of the area in which you can stage your tailgate. All of the items in your tailgate, including your grill, chairs and any pop-up tents, must be within four feet of your designated parking space. This is in order to keep the required space for fire lanes clear in case of emergency, so it’s a rule you definitely want to follow. When in doubt, move it closer to your car.
3. Don’t be afraid to use the 24-hour convenience store
As with other NASCAR venues, Kentucky has established a convenience store for any last-minute tailgating or campground needs. These include not just tailgate supplies such as food and beer, but also camping basics like toothbrushes and water. The store is part of the Ponderosa, Kentucky Speedway’s largest campground, which is a bit of a hike from the track; but thankfully, the Yellow Bus Line will take you there. It’s still a lot closer than going back home for the toiletries you forgot.
4. Note a few things on the prohibited items list
Kentucky’s list of items you can’t get through the gates is generally the same as at many other tracks. But a few of these things need repeating since they’re likely to be part of your tailgate. Namely, alcoholic beverages and glass containers are not allowed trackside, so finish those before you get in line. You’ll also want to leave video cameras, all your chairs and your baby stroller behind.
5. If you’re camping, prepare for the whole weekend
Those of you who plan to camp with your tailgate should note that Kentucky only sells additional wristbands for both infield and backstretch camping guests on a full weekend basis. You do have the option to exchange a used wristband for a new one (i.e. if you have one friend coming on Friday, you can exchange their wristband for a new one that someone else can use Saturday), but you can’t simply have all your friends over for race day. So if you’re going to bring your RV, why not make a whole weekend out of it?
The Quaker State 400 takes place at Kentucky Speedway this Saturday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET.