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What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Bring to Your First NASCAR Race

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Jared Turner

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Been thinking about attending your first NASCAR race but not sure what items to bring along? You’re not alone. For anyone who has never been to a NASCAR event, knowing the necessities to have in tow is likely pure guesswork – unless, of course, you have a trusted friend or family member who has spent time at the race track and can show you the ropes.

Assuming that’s not you and you’re venturing out into the unknown, it’s best to be as prepared as possible rather than going in with blinders on.

Up next, we’ll take a look at seven items a newcomer to the NASCAR fan scene should have in their possession when they show up at the track for the first time. Then, we’ll consider three items that it’s absolutely critical to leave outside because security won’t let you have them once you pass through the main gate.

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What to Bring to Your First NASCAR Race

Sunscreen or Sunblock: Unless you enjoy feeling like your skin is on fire or walking away from a NASCAR weekend with a not-so-fashionable sunburn, you won’t want to leave home without having sunblock or sunscreen at the ready. NASCAR Cup Series races typically last at least three hours, which means potentially being exposed to sunrays for an extended period of time. And depending on the number of cautions, red flags, rain delays and how long you get to your seat before the green flag waves, you could be baking in the sun for up to five or six hours.

It’s especially important not to forget the sunblock or sunscreen if the race you’re attending is in the heat of summer. Beginning with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend and continuing through the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend, making sun protection a priority is especially pivotal.

So, to sum it up: To avoid suffering sunburns at the track, it’s wise to prepare for the worst and have enough sun protection at hand that you don’t have to worry about the possibility of showing up at work on Monday with a red face or peeling skin. After all, the goal is for your first NASCAR race to be memorable for all the right reasons – not the wrong ones.

Ear Plugs or Headsets: The race track is a loud place, especially when 40 NASCAR Cup Series cars are on the track at the same time. Therefore, ensuring you have adequate ear protection is absolutely critical. Who wants to suffer temporary or – even worse – permanent hearing loss in their first time at the race track? The answer, of course, is no one, and the only way to guarantee this doesn’t happen is to bring a reliable pair of ear plugs or, better yet, a headset that blocks out the noise.

With the right headset, you’ll not only protect your hearing but you’ll be able to tune in to live radio coverage of the race and even listen in on the drivers as they communicate with their teams throughout the event. Best of all, if you forget and leave your ear plugs or headset at home, you can easily purchase ear plugs or rent a headset at the track – either once you get inside the concourse or through a vendor that’s set up outside. Racing Radios is a popular brand of headsets that allows spectators to listen to the radio broadcast and their favorite driver while simultaneously protecting their ears.

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The Proper Apparel: Is Chase Elliott your guy? Do you have a picture of Kyle Busch or Kyle Larson beside your bed? Do you dream about spending a day with Kevin Harvick or dining with Denny Hamlin?

Regardless of your fan loyalties, it’s important that you spend your time at the track all decked out in your favorite driver’s apparel. That means shirts, hats and perhaps even socks or shoes. In fact, one could argue that there’s no more important item to bring to your first NASCAR race than a hat, shirt or another article of clothing that pledges your allegiance to your driver of choice.

Maybe you’ll even get lucky and have an opportunity to meet your favorite driver – and have him sign your apparel while it’s on your body. In any case, it’s best to be prepared, because you don’t want to ask Joey Logano to autograph a napkin or a blank piece of paper. A No. 22 hat or shirt will be much better because it’ll turn into an instant collector’s item and let Joey know you’ve got his back.

Track Snacks: Like most professional sporting events, NASCAR races have concession stands where fans can typically purchase hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, pizza, pretzels and various other popular food items. Appetizing as all these might sound and delicious as they might taste, you’re going to pay a hefty price for them. It’s just the way it is.

If you want to save some money – who doesn’t, right? – it’s best to bring your own track snacks and beverages, which you can throw into a clear bag or soft-sided cooler. Pre-packaged and sealed food and beverage items are welcome at NASCAR tracks, so there’s no reason to break the bank on concession food – regardless of how tasty it may be.

Seat Cushions without Metal Components: Is there anything worse than sitting on a hard seat for hours on end, with no relief for your backside? Unless you’re planning to stand for the entire race – which seems unlikely when considering its duration – you’ll need a comfy seat cushion to help get you through. In fact, you’ll want to bring a seat cushion for every member of the family, including children and the elderly who might have an especially hard time focusing if their posterior is in pain.

Just make sure the cushion doesn’t have any metal components, which tracks forbid for safety reasons. A few days before your first NASCAR race, it might be a good idea to pay a visit to your local Walmart or Target to see your seat cushion options. You likely won’t find a cushion there that expresses your love for Ryan Blaney or Martin Truex Jr., but you’ll find something that makes your race-watching experience a lot more enjoyable. Then, before you leave the track, perhaps you’ll want to purchase the seat cushion that’s adorned with your favorite driver’s car colors and car number.

Binoculars: Regardless of where you’re sitting at your first NASCAR race, it’s probably going to be hard to get a birds-eye view of Ross Chastain, William Byron, Bubba Wallace or whichever driver you are intent on seeing up close.

The cure-all for this problem is a pair of binoculars, which you can purchase for cheap at your local Hobby Lobby or spend quite a bit more on at DICK’s Sporting Goods. If you’re not interested in being able to recognize your driver as he walks up and down pit road or climbs in his race car, then maybe don’t bother bringing a pair of binoculars to the track.

Then again, you’ll still want to have a clear view of the cars going around the track, and if you’re at a big track like Talladega Superspeedway, Daytona International Speedway or Pocono Raceway where seeing the entire track is nearly impossible for the naked eye, a pair of binoculars is essential.

What NOT to Bring to Your First NASCAR Race

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Umbrellas: While packing the umbrella for your first NASCAR race seems like a pretty natural thing to do, bring your poncho instead. That’s because NASCAR doesn’t allow umbrellas inside of race tracks, regardless of the weather forecast or whether rain is actively falling from the sky.

While leaving the umbrella at home might not seem like a wise move, umbrellas are considered a safety risk at race tracks and are therefore forbidden. So if you show up with your umbrella, be prepared to take a long walk back to your car or campsite because you won’t get it through the entry gate.

Collapsible Chairs: While collapsible chairs might be perfect for your NASCAR tailgate or camping experience, they’re not permitted inside the race track because there’s simply not enough room for them. Just imagine if everyone brought their collapsible chair inside the track and planned to sit in it. You’d be bumping up against or be on top of your neighbor, making for a not-so-fun viewing experience for you and them. So avoid the hassle of having to return to your tailgate or campsite and leave the collapsible chairs outside.

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Picture of Jared Turner

Jared Turner

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