Use your head—plan ahead
By Joe Kukura
You go to the track for the races, but most of your memories are made camping. The laughs, good food and good times with old friends and new are what NASCAR is all about. When 100,000 die-hard race fans come together on one giant campground, the vibe is like no other.It makes regular tailgating seem like jury duty.
However, all this fun doesn’t come without proper planning. And lucky for you, we’ve got your back.
The very first NASCAR camping decision you’ll have to make is whether you want a reserved or unreserved camping spot. Seems like a no-brainer, as reserved spots keep you from having to wait in line and you’ll know exactly where you’ll camp and how much space you’ll have. However, unreserved spots are more affordable, but you may have to wait in line and your campsite will be farther from the track.
Some tracks, like Dover International Speedway, offer free shuttles from the unreserved camping area to the tracks, plus golf cart transport for those requiring ADA services may be available in certain areas. You must check each track’s website for policies and shuttle availability prior to pulling the trigger on any camping decision. Don’t wing it!
And that’s just the beginning.
You’ve got so many other camping considerations to make sure your weekend goes off without a hitch. So let’s get up to speed on the golden rules for camping at NASCAR, with your RV in tow or just a sleeping bag, tent and cooler.
General camping tips
Many veteran NASCAR tailgate campers will tell you that the first rule of camping at NASCAR is “bring as much beer as possible.” Sigh, rookies. Instead, we will suggest bringing as much ice as possible. Either way, both of these commodities become more precious as the weekend goes on. Some tracks do have stations in the camping area at which you can buy certain essentials, but not all do. Dover does.
Remember to bring flashlights. Glow sticks and other LED accessories are also helpful to ensure anyone can find their way to, from and around your camp. LED ice cubes are usually a big hit with the kids.
RV camping tips
RV camping at NASCAR is the pinnacle of camping-lot convenience and luxury. But with great luxury comes great responsibility.
You should absolutely determine in advance whether the track’s RV facilities include trash pickup, port-a-john or pumping services and water delivery. Dover offers these services, but these are not standard at all tracks.
Another thing you’ll want to make sure of is that your RV’s generator has enough gas or propane to get you through the weekend. Many campsites don’t have electric hookups, so you’ll be relying heavily on your generator to be able to start its own engine and keep your camp racing through to the finish.
Tent camping tips
As far as policies are concerned, there’s much less to concern yourself with when camping in just a tent, but there are a number of planning precautions you’ll want to take to make sure your experience in-tent isn’t too intense.
Do yourself a huge favor and pitch your tent at home in the yard before leaving. You don’t want to wait until you’re at the campground to discover that you’re missing some spikes, poles, rebar or some other component that is easily replaceable at home but quite difficult to acquire once you’re on the road or in the dark.
Pack your tent last when loading up the car. It’s the first thing you’re going to need when you arrive at the campground, and you just may arrive in the dark. Worse yet, you might arrive in the rain—in which case, unpacking the whole car looking for your tent is not a fun way to begin your weekend at the track.
Yes, plan for the possibility of rain. There’s no controlling the weather at a NASCAR event, and the weatherman has been known to be wrong. Put the rainfly over your tent even if the skies look clear. Make sure to pack a tarp, and put it on the inside of the tent, not directly underneath. Your things will stay dryer in the event of a downpour.
Prepare for the worst but expect the best time your money can buy, whether it’s your first or next time at NASCAR. Just a little preparation is all you need to spend your big weekend at NASCAR like a true champ. And with any luck from the weatherman, the only thing pouring at your camp will be ice-cold beverages.
Pack up the RV and the cooler and head to Dover International Speedway this October when the Sprint Cup returns to the Monster Mile. Call 800-411-RACE and get your RV spot. Visit DoverSpeedway.com for more info.