Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My NASCAR-filled weekend

If you stuck around Charlotte this weekend and saved your gas money, you couldn't escape the theme of the weekend -- NASCAR.

I myself was reminded every evening as I heard the noise from Food Lion Speed Street trickle into my Fourth Ward apartment.

So I figured, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I ventured out into the massive street festival Friday night to hear N.C. sweetheart Kellie Pickler.

And hear her (kinda) I did. I just never actually saw her. About a block away from the Coca-Cola stage, the crowds of people just stopped walking and some people started pushing their way through. It was an incredibly claustrophobic experience, and I stayed long enough to hear her say "It's good to be home" before having a mini-panic attack and fleeing the scene. (Check out photos from her concert here.)

On Saturday, I stayed in the NASCAR spirit and went to my first race, thanks to my fellow nightlife columnist (and racing fan) Brittney Cason of Creative Loafing. This girl knew how to introduce a city girl to the world of racing -- VIP parking, tickets to the Anheuser-Busch suite and an impromptu barbecue (best wings I've ever tasted) outside of Kasey Kahne's motorhome in the infield.

Some highlights:

  • While driving around the infield in our chauffeured golf cart (thanks, Mike!), we came across a group of people playing a game we had never seen before. Brittney asked, "What are you playing?" The answer: "I dunno. Redneck somethin' or other."
  • A young woman wearing a T-shirt that simply read: "I'm here for the Boobs" (she was raising money for breast cancer research).

  • The legendary Couch Man at Turn One. Bill Montgomery of Welcome has been setting up camp at the first turn for 30 years, as of this weekend. He calls it his twice-a-year timeshare. He's even got sponsors. Six of 'em to be exact. And his couches are the best place to watch the start of the race.
Had a great time on Saturday. How was the party on Sunday?


Anonymous said...

Let me say the crowds uptown Friday night were beyond words. Way too crowded, couldn't move and just rude people everywhere. I gave up early on seeing Kellie Pickler cause I couldn't take it any longer. The crowd was much lighter saturday for Travis Tritt. The train was a total mess also. Speed street needs to move back towards Cedar street and find a way to disperse the crowds more and The LYNX needs to wake up on how to handle crowds before the night of the event.

Anonymous said...

My son, who is not much of a race fan, went Friday night with friends. They parked in Pineville and rode the train in and out. We've gone to Boston and rode their train in and out with Red Sox fans and my son said Charlotte's train wasn't nearly that crowded.
But, he said Speed Street was the nastiest thing he had ever seen. And he has camped out before in the infield. There were trash cans aplenty yet trash was everywhere on the streets. Just filthy.
They couldn't get near the Miller Lite stage, so they "settled" (his words) for Kellie Pickler. He said there were a bunch of drunk guys with their shirts off yelling at her.
My son grew up in Charlotte, but now we live in Fort Mill. And he said he's glad !

Anonymous said...

Intersection of Trade and Tryon is no place for a stage, it completely cuts off any flow of foot traffic in ALL directions.

Seems to me the crowd size would be cut in half if you removed all the UNDER 21 year olds drinking beer. I watched probably a dozen different kids pick up used wrists bands and simply snap them back on their wrists. Great design.

Where we the cops? The crowd was decently behaved, but had things gotten out of line it would gone bad quick.

Anonymous said...

I cant understand people bringing newborns and strollers. I know some of the small kids in strollers had to be scared to death trying to get thru that crowd with people stumbling at them and bumping into them from every angle. Parents, I know you all want to do stuff but lets have some commen sense bringing newborns and small kids to overcrowded events and drunks.

Anonymous said...

Friday night at a NASCAR event; and if that's not enough, Kellie Pickler. North Carolina Yuppies sure know how to live it up.

Anonymous said...

Saturday night was a bit scarier with gang signs being flashed (in bulk) on several occassions. I think we have a great city but I think I'll steer clear of uptown for big events. That finally sealed it for me.

Anonymous said...

"My son grew up in Charlotte, but now we live in Fort Mill. And he said he's glad !"

I wouldn't base your opinion of Charlotte on a one-time a year redneck festival. It is nothing but a bunch of rednecks from ALL OVER THE COUNTRY getting drunk and acting stupid. Did he really think it wasn't going to be like the way you just described it in your post?

"I think we have a great city but I think I'll steer clear of uptown for big events. That finally sealed it for me."

Once again, it is a redneck festival. Go to any other event Uptown and the type of people there and the experience will be A LOT different/better.

Anonymous said...

Speed Street is trashy. Just a bunch of white trash folks getting drunk. I wish they would move it out of Uptown and to Concord or Gastonia instead.