The story of NASCAR dates back to over 60 years. Sixty plus years of history, miracles, and magical moments. There were some elements of NASCAR that were lost as it grew. Elements of its beginning and the people, places, and things that built this sport. These important moments were never supposed to be forgotten, but they indeed vanished as time went on and the sport grew. When the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in 2010, the ever so important steps in racing’s history were brought back to life in a remarkable way. The creators of the hall nailed their duty to retell the history of NASCAR, and they did in a way that was never thought of. They make fans aware of every little step that laid the foundation of the sport, and what continues to innovate this 200 MPH game of chess today.
I made my second visit to the hall last Saturday and this second venture was far more in-depth than I ever deemed possible. Very little changed since I visited last August, but it just seemed as this time I came away with so much more than I did the first time. I was able to go back to NASCARs’ earliest days and walk, relive, and experience the growth of the sport all over again.
Just walking up to the hall was breathtaking, the size and prestige of the building that means so much to our sport gave me chills. The brilliant architecture involved in the building improved the experience. So much open space and interactive activities that create a real racing experience give you the ultimate NASCAR feeling. This feeling is indescribable and can only be felt in the Hall.
The building itself is four floors of rich history. First, you experience a film that puts into picture what NASCAR’s all about. The film sets you up to experience the majestic place where each aspect of it is laid out in extraordinary detail.
Glory Road was next on my venture. Placed along the “road,” that resembles a track, are the cars that have made history. To name a few drivers who have their history making machines there are Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt, and Jimmie Johnson. The road also features banking similar to the tracks NASCAR races on today. Fans get the opportunity to walk on the banking and it would be the same as walking on Daytona or Talladega’s turns. The road still has space so as more and more drivers make history, their cars could be put on the most memorable strip of a track in racing.
Level 3 of the building is where many interactive activities reside. The Hall of Honor features all of the inductees and narrated reasons why they belong in the Hall. Realistic racing simulators follow the Hall of Honor and these things are the real deal. An iRacing set up in an actual race car allows you to race against other fans and show your talent behind the wheel. Fans can also take on the role of a pit crew member when they practice pitting a car all by themselves and see if they can earn the best time. The media portion of the interactive floor includes your chance to call a portion of a race as a radio or television broadcaster.
A real race weekend simulation is displayed on the floor as well, which includes everything teams do to get their car ready for racing. From the shop to the hauler and to the inspection line, fans can see and read how teams prepare their driver’s car for a battle out on the track.
To finish off the Hall is a floor of history where you can read about all the moments that built this sport. Each section is designed with a certain time period and in the section are various displays of memorable moments from that time in NASCAR. An interactive exhibit on this level allows you to watch some of the greatest finishes in NASCAR history. Ricky Craven’s 2003 Darlington car is appropriately placed by the exhibit since it won the race which featured the closest finish.
Reliving NASCAR’s history is an ever so important thing to do for the younger generation of race fans as well as the modern day fans since it allows everyone to remember how this sport got its start. Every corner of the last 60 plus years of racing is covered in the hall and there’s not one magical moment missing. As today’s racing continues to write the history books, more and more will be added to the hall, but as for now, everything you could ever know about racing is placed in this one special place.
For any race fan, the Hall is a must see. No matter how many times you visit, you’ll experience the best of racing all-over again and will always leave with more knowledge than you entered with. Time machines are not known to exist, but the creators of the NASCAR Hall of Fame created a phenomenal one that takes you on a tour of what made NASCAR what it is today.
By Jason Schultz