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Carolinas Part 2 – June 2018

This is the second part of our trip from June of 2018 that went through SC, NC, VA, and TN.

Joe Gibbs Racing – 13415 Reese Blvd W, Huntersville, NC 28078

We stopped off at Joe Gibbs Racing in Huntersville, NC and this shop was very impressive. Out front is a show car and trophy case for each of their teams. When we were there, they had put out each car with the livery that would be raced that weekend. Not sure if that is their standard practice, but I thought that was pretty impressive to go to that level of detail. Down a hallway they have trophy cases celebrating most of their accomplishments, including two large displays celebrating Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart. To the left of the entrance is a huge gift shop with many items for each of their teams.

NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame – 119 Knob Hill Rd, Mooresville, NC 28117

Next up was the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. This is a small museum with some amazing artifacts, as well as a gift shop that specializes in older items that you simply won’t find anywhere else. They have many hats and clothing items from race teams and victory lane celebrations at great prices. While at the museum this time, we ran into Don Miller, who among many accomplishments in life is the retired head of Penske Racing South.

Darrell Waltrip Motorsports – Now Permanently Closed

On our last several trips to Charlotte, we’d wanted to stop into ‘DarWal’ but could never get over there at a time it was open. This time we were very lucky to arrive and be able to go inside. We met Van Colley as soon as we entered, Van is officially Darrell’s business manager, but I don’t think that title covers the relationship they have formed over years and years of being together. From an outsiders perspective, Van is the kind of person that anyone would want representing them. He walked us through the shop, told several stories along the way, and took our photo next to Stevie Waltrip’s famous 4-4-2. He even gave us our fifteen minutes of fame by posting to Twitter and getting us a retweet by ‘ol DW himself. Since Darrell has retired from Fox, the shop has been emptied out and is no longer open for visits. Not sure what the future holds for this wonderful collection of cars, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Hendrick Motorsports – 4400 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28262

This was at least my fourth visit to the Hendrick campus over the last 17 years, and it’s amazing how much it has grown in just that amount of time. Each time I visit there are new vehicles on display and changes to the overall grounds. I highly encourage all race fans to try and visit this facility at least once, as the overall campus has probably more to see that anywhere else. The original shop building is now totally a museum and team store with several race vehicles, trophies, helmets, and suits on display. On the hill are two buildings, each housing two race teams along with more vehicles and artifacts. You can also see the training center and the rest of the buildings on campus. The truck pictured below was driven in a race by Rick himself, I believe this one was from Heartland Park in Topeka, KS. Little known fact is that in addition to this, Rick also had a couple of Cup starts in the ’80s.

Charlotte Motor Speedway – 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC 28027

Next up was Charlotte Motor Speedway, which has a nice gift shop, and a viewing deck that they will walk the fans out to. When we were visiting, they were working on testing and configuration of the layout prior to the first Roval race.

Roush Fenway Racing – 4600 Roush Place, Concord, NC 28027

From there we stopped at Roush Fenway racing. They have a large museum and team store, with several artifacts from the entire history of Roush Racing. In the image below is a Mark Martin ‘Folgers’ car, and if you look behind the car to the left you can see parts of the experimental aircraft that Jack Roush crashed in Alabama when he almost drowned in a lake. Interestingly enough, we were also in the area when Jack crashed a private jet up north, and were passing the Concord airport when another team plane took off to probably go there and get on the ground with him. I’ve never seen a plane take off so fast, and even remarked to my family that something was going on, before we had heard the news of Jack’s crash. Glad that Jack made it through both of those scares and is still around the sport.

Chip Ganassi Racing – 8500 Westmoreland Dr NW, Concord, NC 28027

Our last NASCAR stop for this entry was at Ganassi Racing. They have a nice lobby with a couple of show cars on display, and a viewing area to see out into the shop. They also have a large gift shop area with team gear for sale.

K1 Speed – 800 Derita Rd #K, Concord, NC 28027

And finally I need to mention K1 Speed. K1 is an amazing indoor karting track, that we actually went to twice on this trip, so that Adam could race. There were some ultra competitive racers showing up with their own gear and helmets, but Adam got better and better each time and by his last race was putting up lap times right there with the drivers who race in leagues at the facility. The staff was very nice, and were even taking Adam aside after a couple of the racers to show him some tips on improving his line, which they certainly didn’t have to do, and it was much appreciated.

Next week we will conclude this trip, with several more stops that we made before heading back to Nashville.

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