By Brendan O’Meara
A NASCAR race is like no other sporting event in the world — and an all-day visit to Dover’s Monster Mile means coming prepared. The race itself will last anywhere from three to four hours, but that doesn’t account for hours spent tailgating — before and after the race — or pursuing the abundance of fanfare.
Here are five tips to make your day at Dover a memorable experience you’ll want to relive and return to later in the year.
1. Bring a cooler
Yup, Dover allows fans to bring their own food and drink. Very few professional sporting venues allow this, so be sure to take advantage. Canned beer is allowed, but no wine, liquor or glass bottles may enter the grounds.
That’s welcome news, but there are a few restrictions:
? One cooler and it can be no larger than 14 by 14 by 14 inches
? One backpack no larger than 18 by 18 by 4 inches to carry accessories
For more on the track’s policies, visit doverspeedway.com/policies.
2. Wear layers and bring a seat cushion
By the time the race starts, summer will be just a month away, but there’s no telling what the weather will be like. The race is outdoors, so it could be windy, rainy (umbrellas are prohibited) or — fingers crossed — sunny.
Wearing layers to the track will give you the option of peeling them off to meet the weather conditions. It’s a long day, so you’ll want to stay comfortable. In that vein, don’t forget your seat cushion, a must-have for every NASCAR fan.
Bottom line: check the weather.
3. Load up on the sunscreen
NASCAR races outdoors combined with sunny conditions mean a lot of time in the midday heat. There’s no escaping the sun in the wide-open grandstands at Dover, so ensuring everybody’s skin is well protected just might save the day and prevent you from leaving the track red in the face.
If you plan to bring the kiddos, splurge for the multicolored family pack and have some face-painting fun with the little ones.
Oh, and don’t forget your sunglasses and a hat!
4. Rent a radio headset
Without radio or video broadcast the race lacks context. Why is Jimmie Johnson pitting out of sequence? Why is the yellow caution flag out? What happened to Brad Keselowski during that spinout?
Dover’s general admission package includes a free FanVision or Racing Electronics scanner rental for the race.
FanVision provides live feeds of the race with stats and analysis, and the ability to follow up to three individual drivers on a 4.3-inch screen. The Racing Electronics scanner gives you access to radio communications between the drivers and their crew chiefs, putting you directly in the driver’s seat during the chase.
5. Earplugs are cool
If you choose to opt out of a headset, then this may be the most important item you’ll bring.
These nearly 800-horsepower engines are turbo fast and super loud, and the booming decibels at NASCAR can be thunderous. But don’t worry, you won’t lose any of the experience by protecting your ears. If you want to get a sense of how loud it is, just pop them out knowing you have the luxury of putting them back in.
Finally, stuff your wallet with some cash. Many vendors at Dover — including parking — prefer paper over plastic.
Check out the First-Time Race Fan Cheat Sheet, and if you’re planning to experience the Monster Mile in person May 29 to 31, visit doverspeedway.com for ticket options.