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Find the best hotels for your first (or 15th) NASCAR race in Charlotte
MORE: Learn more about Hotels for Hope There's simply no replacement for experiencing a NASCAR race in person. There's nothing like watching dozens of big stars in race cars ripping around the speedway, daring to reach the 200 mph mark, that offers the noise, sights, smells and that unmistakable feeling deep in your bones you're witnessing something larger than life. This is the time to book your flights and hotels to make your NASCAR trip a reality. First stop: Charlotte, North Carolina. Long revered as the International Gateway to the South and nicknamed the Queen City, you may know Charlotte as the home of NASCAR . Even though the official headquarters are in Daytona Beach, Florida, North Carolina is where most of the stock car teams and drivers are based. With famous names like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Rick Hendrick and Junior Johnson associated with this town, Charlotte is a sure bet to get your NASCAR fix and enjoy world-famous barbecue, endless craft beer, a lively nightlife and all-around fun for everyone. For seasoned fans or those just curious to check out their first event, the May 20 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race, the May 28 Coca-Cola 600, or the Oct 7 Bank of America 500 offer plenty of opportunities to fully immerse yourself in this larger-than-life sport. For the full NASCAR experience, take a couple of extra days to explore the city like a true Charlottean. Here's our list of Charlotte's tried and true venues, plus trendy new favorites for your visit to CLT. UPTOWN First things first: in Charlotte, downtown is called "Uptown." The one place that no stock car fan should pass up here is the NASCAR Hall of Fame . Longtime race devotees and first-timers alike are invited to step in and share the rich history and heritage of this sport. You'll be taken behind the scenes through decades of champion race teams, can test your skills at the pit crew challenge, feel what it's like to climb up a banked oval track and bask in the glory of NASCAR's Hall of Honor. And, yes, there are plenty of souvenirs -- no excuses not to gear up for race weekend! You'll probably be thirsty after drooling over four floors of racing memorabilia, and the Hall of Fame's Uptown location is convenient to dozens of Charlotte's best bars and restaurants. Try a Stoke Fashioned cocktail at Stoke at the Charlotte Marriott Center City before trying a made-from-scratch meal burnished in their wood-fired oven. Local beer lovers know to visit The Cellar at Duckworth's , with its speakeasy vibe, over 300 unique brews and an excellent bourbon selection. See if you can score a tour of the vintage cellar, housing rare and coveted craft beers. If your kids are the ones who've worked up an appetite, grab a sandwich in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Pit Stop Cafe , or head over to the RedEye Diner at the EpiCentre Mall, 7th Street Public Market, or Amélie's French Bakery -- home to a must-try salted caramel brownie and other treats featured in the first installment of "The Hunger Games." Where to stay: Hotels near the NASCAR Hall of Fame , Uptown Charlotte, NC: These hotels are walking distance from the Hall of Fame and close to Bank of America Stadium, Spectrum Center, the trendy 7th Street Public Market, EpiCentre, several museums, and so much more. The nearby LYNX Blue Line and and CityLYNX Gold Line make it easy to get around town. Courtyard by Marriott Charlotte City Center " $125/night " 12.4 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway aloft Charlotte Uptown at the Epicentre " $150/night " 12.3 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway The Westin Charlotte " $129/night " 12.7 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway See more race-day Hotels close to the NASCAR Hall of Fame at nascar .com/hotels CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY A legendary track in the heart of NASCAR country, this beacon draws thousands of race fans to immerse themselves in the soul of the sport. Charlotte Motor Speedway has plenty of food and drink options on site, like Bojangles' Famous Chicken and Biscuits -- some people swear they've dreamt about that Chicken Biscuit Sandwich. As always, you can bring your own food and beverages if you want -- just make sure your cooler is the correct size. Where to stay: Hotels near Charlotte Motor Speedway: Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte-Concord-Golf Resort & Spa " $254/night " 1.1 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway Great Wolf Lodge Concord Charlotte " $365/night " 1.8 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Charlotte-Concord-I-85 " $229/night " 1.7 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway Courtyard Marriott Concord " $209/night " 1.3 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway See more race-day Hotels close to Charlotte Motor Speedway at nascar .com/hotels SOUTH END, LOSO, AIRPORT Art galleries, breweries, and food trucks come together to blend old industrial Charlotte with a heaping dose of tastemakers' charm -- you'll find all of that, and more, just 3 miles south of Uptown and 7 miles from the airport. In South End , browse the creative works at local faves Ciel Gallery, Dilworth Artisan Station and the Charlotte Art League. Ready to skip right to the meat? Stop at Mac's Speed Shop for true Carolina barbecue. A lively mix of bikers, beer drinkers and brisket lovers head to Mac's for traditional barbecue and sides like mac 'n' cheese, baked beans, and cheddar grits, all washed down with local craft brews or southern sweet tea. Head two miles farther south and you'll find yourself in one of Charlotte's hottest "drinking districts:" Lower South End (but you can call it " LoSo" if you want to feel like an insider). First stop? The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery . Their traditional beer hall , classically-made German brews, live music and sprawling outdoor area makes it an easy option for groups and families. Some refer to it as a theme park for adults, but with better food -- order yourself a Currywürst, Short Rib Brisket Burger or a soft German pretzel. If you’re on the hunt for even more libations, you'll want to stop at LoSo's Sugar Creek Brewing Company, the Broken Spoke , and Good Road Cider Works . Charlotte's LYNX Blue Line light rail runs through South End and LoSo, making your journey to and from Uptown nearly as quick as a NASCAR pit stop. Where to stay: Hotels near Charlotte Douglas International Airport: Homewood Suites by Hilton Charlotte Airport " $110/night " 2.0 miles from CLT Fairfield Inn & Suites Charlotte Airport " $99/night " 2.1 miles from CLT Super 8 Charlotte Downtown Area " $70/night " 3.4 miles from CLT Search for more race-day Hotels near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport/South End/LoSo at nascar .com/hotels There you have it: your insider's guide to where to eat, drink and take in Charlotte like a local. This fast-growing city is changing all the time, so explore the area on your own and create new memories, NASCAR style. And, now you have a new tool to help you out. At Raceday Hotels by Hotels for Hope at nascar .com/hotels , you can search by price, location, landmark, and see reviews and photos of hotels close to Charlotte Motor Speedway. See you at the track! All rates were accurate at time of writing, based on a 5/26-29 stay. Prices subject to change, so book soon.
Polls open for NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Fan Vote
HALL OF FAME : Cast your vote today! Since NASCAR's start in 1948, fans have been the cornerstone of the sport -- their voices vital, heard and acted upon. So, it made perfect sense that when NASCAR assembled the original Voting Panel for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's inaugural Class of 2010, the sanctioning body made sure the fans had a say in who earned the sport's highest honor. And today, that tradition continues. Polls are now open for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Fan Vote. To vote, visit NASCAR .com/halloffame . Fans are once again asked to cast votes for up to five nominees for inclusion into the Class of 2018, and can vote up to 50 times per day. The five nominees who receive the most votes will count as one of the 54 votes cast by the Voting Panel on NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day on May 24. The polls close May 22. Below are the 20 nominees who are eligible for entry into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018: • Davey Allison , won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup) series, including the 1992 Daytona 500 • Buddy Baker , won 19 times in NASCAR's premier series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 • Red Byron , first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949 • Ray Evernham , three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief • Red Farmer , three-time Late Model Sportsman champion; 1956 Modified champion • Ray Fox , legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner • Joe Gibbs , combined for nine car owner championships in premier and XFINITY series • Ron Hornaday Jr. , four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion • Harry Hyde , 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief • Alan Kulwicki , 1992 NASCAR premier series champion • Bobby Labonte , won a championship in both the premier series and XFINITY Series • Hershel McGriff , 1986 NASCAR west series champion • Roger Penske , combined for four car owner championships in premier and XFINITY series • Larry Phillips , only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion • Jack Roush , five-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series • Ricky Rudd , won 23 times in NASCAR's premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400 • Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier- Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence • Mike Stefanik , winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships • Waddell Wilson , won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder • Robert Yates , won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR Hall of Fame : Red Farmer
Red Farmer's career is one long series of immeasurable accolades -- for instance, it's entirely unknown just how many wins he has. His life's commitment to NASCAR puts him on the Hall of Fame ballot.
First look: Petty family exhibit opens at NASCAR Hall of Fame
The NASCAR Hall of Fame unveiled the "Petty: Building a Family Legacy" exhibit on March 29. The opening celebration was fit for the "King."
NASCAR Hall of Fame : Davey Allison
The son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, Davey Allison won 19 races and 14 poles before his tragic death in a helicopter accident in 1993.
Meet the 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees
MORE: Photos of every 2018 nominee The late Davey Allison and NASCAR champion owners Roger Penske and Joe Gibbs highlight the NASCAR Hall of Fame's newest additions to a phenomenally accomplished nomination list. The NASCAR Hall of Fame announced the new slate of nominees Wednesday evening. It also will include Red Farmer and 2000 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte, along with Daytona 500 winner Allison and team owners Penske and Gibbs. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day is May 24, when five more names will be selected for enshrinement. This year's class of nominees is again diverse with championship drivers, owners and a living legend set to be considered. Allison won the 1992 Daytona 500 and 19 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races before losing his life in a helicopter accident in July of 1993. The son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, Davey was the 1987 Rookie of the Year and finished third to the late Alan Kulwicki for the 1992 championship in one of the most dramatic and highly contested season finales in NASCAR history. Fittingly, Allison's nomination coincides with fellow Hueytown, Alabama, racer, Red Farmer, who made NASCAR's highly respected list of its 50 Greatest Drivers. Although no one knows exactly how many victories the talented Farmer has amassed in a seven-decades long career, he did capture three consecutive championships in NASCAR's Late Model Sportsman division (1969-71) more than a decade after earning the NASCAR Modified title in 1956. Farmer ran 36 premier series races with a best finish of fourth (twice). The three-time Super Bowl-winning NFL Coach Gibbs, 76, has shown his leadership prowess extends from field to track, guiding his NASCAR teams to four Monster Energy Cup Series championships with three different drivers -- Labonte, twice with Tony Stewart (2002, 2005) and most recently Kyle Busch (2015). His teams have also won five owners titles in the XFINITY Series. Gibbs' 140 victories in the premier series already ranks third all-time in the owners' category in the history of the sport and includes two Daytona 500 wins and five Brickyard 400 trophies. Gibbs, who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1996, has guided the career of some of the most successful NASCAR competitors, including fellow Hall of Fame nominee Bobby Labonte, as well as current Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Monster Energy Series champion Busch. PHOTOS: Allison, Gibbs, Penske through the years Joining Allison, Farmer and Gibbs is Labonte, 52, whose older brother Terry was a 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. The Labonte brothers are one of only two sets of brothers who both won Cup titles -- the Busch brothers are the other pair. Bobby Labonte was the first of only four drivers to ever win both the Monster Energy Series and XFINITY Series championships. He won 21 races and earned 26 pole positions at the premier-series level despite starting his career in the elite ranks at the age of 28. In his 2000 championship run, he won the Southern 500 and the Brickyard 400 and finished an amazing 265 points ahead of the late Dale Earnhardt for the season trophy. Labonte also won the IROC title in 2001. Concluding this list of the sport's potential Hall of Fame members is one of auto racing's greatest contributors, Roger Penske, a Cup champion owner as well as a XFINITY Series championship owner. "The Captain" as he is affectionately known, just celebrated his 50th season in racing in 2016. He has already left an indelible mark in the stock car world as a team owner and also a track owner (formerly at Michigan Speedway). And he built one of the circuit's most successful venues, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Penske driver Brad Keselowski won the 2012 Monster Energy Series title and the organization has twice won the Daytona 500, including the 50th anniversary of the great race with driver Ryan Newman and then again in 2015 with Joey Logano. His teams have amassed 101 victories and earned 113 pole positions. And Team Penske's three consecutive XFINITY Series owners titles from 2013-15 ties a modern record. In 2016, Penske was awarded the prestigious Bill France Award of Excellence last year for his contributions to NASCAR . Hall of Fame voters will select five people for enshrinement out of a talented and diverse list of 20 nominees. Fifteen additional names remain on the Hall of Fame ballot and include 19-time winner Buddy Baker, NASCAR's first premier series champion Red Byron, three-time Monster Energy Series champion crew chief Ray Evernham, legendary crew chief and car owner Ray Fox and four-time truck series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. Harry Hyde, the 1970 championship crew chief joins 1992 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Alan Kulwicki, former NASCAR West Series champ Hershel McGriff, five-time weekly series national champion Larry Phillips and eight-time national series championship owner Jack Roush on the list as does 23-time race winner Ricky Rudd. Rounding out the talented and award-winning group of nominees is legendary radio and television broadcaster Ken Squier, nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik, three-time championship engine builder Waddell Wilson and Robert Yates, who won Monster Energy Series titles as both an engine builder and an owner. The Landmark Award for achievement in the sport also added two names to its nominee list, including NASCAR's Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors and Executive Vice President Jim France, who is also the Chairman of International Speedway Corporation, and Alvin Hawkins, NASCAR's first flagman, who was present with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. at the Streamline Hotel during the earliest formation of the sport. He and France brought NASCAR to the famed Bowman Gray Stadium, one of the country's most popular race facilities even today. They join Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race, Ralph Seagraves, who formed the groundbreaking partnership with R.J. Reynolds and NASCAR to create the Winston entitlement sponsorship and Squier, who is also the inaugural winner and namesake for the Squier- Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. &lt;/p&gt;
NASCAR Hall of Fame : Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs has won throughout his entire life. The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992 and has led the organization to four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series titles.
Davey Allison, Joe Gibbs, Roger Penske highlight NASCAR Hall of Fame ballot
NASCAR .com's Jonathan Merryman brings you Up to Speed as the NASCAR Hall of Fame announces Davey Allison, Red Farmer, Bobby Labonte, Joe Gibbs and Roger Penske will be on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Hendrick humbled by NASCAR Hall of Fame selection
RELATED: Everything to know about Friday's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction Rick Hendrick is going into the NASCAR Hall of Fame , and the owner of Hendrick Motorsports might be the one most surprised by his selection. "It is more than just 'Hey, this is cool,'" the 67-year-old said recently. "It's more than that to me. It's humbling; it's just very humbling to me that I could even be looked at." Hendrick will be inducted into the Hall Friday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN), along with fellow team owners Richard Childress and Raymond Parks and drivers Benny Parsons and Mark Martin. There hasn't been much time for reflection, Hendrick said, as he continues to oversee an organization that fields four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams in addition to one of the nation’s most successful automotive sales groups. "I think when you are in the day-to-day and in a day-to-day race and you are going to the track and you are trying to win races … or you are running for a championship, all that other stuff is kind of back there, but it doesn't come to the forefront," Hendrick said. "But then when you get to an event like this and you are going into the Hall of Fame with Raymond Parks and Benny and Richard and Mark and all these guys and you look at who is in there and you look at what the sport has meant to you and your family, it is really special and it's very emotional. "You think about those things. It's humbling. I think the word is humbling because … I never thought I would ever race in NASCAR . I never thought I would ever win a NASCAR race. I never really thought we would win a championship and now to be in the position we are in to win as much and have the success we have had and to be recognized as doing something in the sport to get into the Hall it's a tremendous honor.” Parsons and Martin each drove for Hendrick at one time. Childress and his Richard Childress Racing organization were the benchmark when Hendrick arrived on the scene in 1984. RELATED: Racing lifer Childress ready for induction "Really when I first started I didn't think anybody would ever beat them," Hendrick said of Childress and his driver, Dale Earnhardt. "I thought they were just, basically, unbeatable." That changed with Jeff Gordon 's arrival at HMS in the early '90s, and for nearly a decade, the two organizations were the best in the NASCAR garage, winning seven championships between themselves from '93 through '01. The Hendrick organization continues to set the pace today, with Jimmie Johnson winning the 2016 championship to become just the third driver to win seven titles. Officially, HMS teams have won 12 championships in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and 245 races. Previous programs in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series produced nearly 50 more victories and three additional championships. It's almost overwhelming for Hendrick, who built his first car (for drag racing) when he was a teenager with help from his father. "When you get something like this in life, when someone recognizes you, you think about going to Hillsborough (North Carolina) to watch a race on dirt," he said. "You think about all the sacrifices your Dad made to get you in the cars and your son's love for the cars, your brother, (engine builder) Randy Dorton, all those guys that aren’t here now that gave it all. "It's super emotional for me because I know how much they loved it, how much they sacrificed for it and this is almost like the culmination." Sixteen drivers have won at least one race while competing for HMS at the NASCAR Cup level. Johnson, Gordon and Terry Labonte won championships as well. RELATED: Johnson's seventh title leaves him speechless, but peers say plenty In spite of all his accomplishments and those of his organization, Hendrick said he still feels a bit awed by his selection. "I think it feels a lot like the first time I went to New York after I won a championship, the first championship," he said. "You feel … it's an unbelievable accomplishment when you dreamed about being involved in a sport or just watching the sport and to think that now you are being recognized in the Hall of Fame , it's a really emotional and a very special feeling." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR Hall of Fame unveils new lineup of iconic cars
RELATED: More on the Hall of Fame " Fan Appreciation Day CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For just the third time since the NASCAR Hall of Fame first opened its doors in 2010, race fans will see a new Glory Road exhibit encircling the Great Hall in the museum's main level. Glory Road "ICONS" features 18 cars representing some of NASCAR's most recognizable vehicles as well as its legendary drivers. The exhibit will officially open to the public Jan. 7. Friday, Hall officials held an unveiling for members of the media and various local dignitaries. Seventeen of the vehicles were on display when the hour-long event got underway. The wraps on the 18th, the No. 28 Ford Thunderbird piloted by Davey Allison for Ranier-Lundy Racing, were removed during the program. Among those in attendance for the unveiling were Allison's father, Bobby Allison, the 1983 series champion and winner of 84 races, Davey's son Robbie Allison, Joey Knuckles (Allison's crew chief for 19 races in 1987), Larry McReynolds (Allison's crew chief at Robert Yates Racing from '91-93) and Lorin Ranier, son of team owner Harry Ranier. "I notice in this general area Alabama is represented really well," Robbie Allison said, noting his father's car sits between those of his grandfather and fellow Alabama Gang driver Neil Bonnett. "We're doing pretty well I think. "When I look at this car, one thing that stands out is I always see the snippet online of him driving down pit road at Talladega and the whole crew is on top of the car. ... I see it all the time. All the good times that he and his team shared and our family was able to share through racing." Davey Allison scored his first NASCAR win in the top series in '87 at Talladega Superspeedway . He would add 18 more victories, including two more at the 2.66-mile Talladega track, before his death in 1993. Bobby Allison's racing career had ended in 1988 when his Buick slammed into the wall and was then struck by another race car on the first lap of a race at Pocono Raceway . Clifford Allison, Davey's brother, was killed in a crash during practice in 1992 at Michigan International Speedway . "Something that my granddad says to me all the time is that racing has taken a lot away from us but it's also given us an awful lot at the same time,” Robbie Allison said. "There are so many good memories ... "The words that everybody that knew (my dad) on and off the track, determination, hard work, obsession even, always willing to put in that extra effort to be better every day. ... He was definitely as good of a father as he was a racer.” McReynolds, now a NASCAR on FOX analyst, said Allison "actually made my job pretty easy because … I think a lot of it was the way Bobby brought him up through the racing ranks he knew what was going on with that race car and he had a pretty good idea what we needed to do to make it better. ... "He obviously did a phenomenal job in that race car but he did a really unbelievable job outside the race car. He loved his race fans." The 18 cars featured on the new Glory Road "ICONS" exhibit span the history of NASCAR , from the 1952 Hudson Hornet driven by Marshall Teague -- a dominant combination in the sport's formative years -- to the 2015 Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota Camry that carried Kyle Busch to the series championship. Other entries in the exhibit include: • 1957 Ford Fairlane driven by Fireball Roberts • 1964 Plymouth Belvedere of Richard Petty • 1966 Ford Galaxie owned and driven by Wendell Scott • 1966 Dodge Charger fielded by Cotton Owens and driven by David Pearson • 1939 Chevrolet Coupe piloted by Richie Evans in 1970-71 • 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Darrell Waltrip • 1978 Ford Thunderbird driven by Bobby Allison • 1982 Oldsmobile Omega driven by Sam Ard • 1989 Ford Thunderbird driven by Neil Bonnett • 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass driven by Harry Gant • 1992 Ford Thunderbird driven by Bill Elliott • 1995 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Mike Skinner • 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Dale Earnhardt • 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Jeff Gordon • 2013 Chevrolet SS driven by Jimmie Johnson Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame , said his group began with a notebook of "100 to 120 cars" that had to be trimmed considerably before beginning the process of selecting and obtaining the final 18. "If I handed you that notebook you would probably agree that 80-90 are iconic cars," Kelley said. "There are others that are noteworthy of acknowledging at some point in time, but would it pass the sticker test ... would you say 'yeah that's iconic?' " As with previous Glory Road exhibits, the "ICONS" exhibit will remain on display for three years. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;