CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - It's just about here. The fastest, loudest, busiest ten days in the area, all driven by NASCAR racing action at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. It's so big that NCAA Division II Southeast Regional baseball tournament will be held in Thomasville instead of at Catawba College because all of the hotels in Salisbury are already booked with race fans.
The impact of the next days provides an economic benefit with a footprint from the Rock Hill area to north of Salisbury.
And if the racing action, Speed Street in uptown Charlotte, and all the driver appearances aren't enough, the track has provided WBTV with a list of additional unique attractions:
Known as the epicenter of NASCAR, a visit to Charlotte Motor Speedway during the 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder is on every true race fan's bucket list, and in 2015 fans have more reason than ever to visit the iconic 1.5-mile superspeedway and get revved up for thrilling back-to-back weekends of white-knuckled racing. It all starts this weekend with the biggest all-star event in sports, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (May 16) and culminates with the 56th running of the venerable Coca-Cola 600 on May 24.
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Pre-Race
The biggest all-star event in sports offers non-stop excitement on and off the track during opening weekend of the 10 Days of Thunder at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Aside from the bumper-banging action on the track, fans will enjoy a huge pre-race concert with chart-topping country music act Little Big Town and a driver intro that shines the spotlight on NASCAR's best drivers and their crew. Upgrade your race ticket to a stagefront Golden Ticket for VIP access to the Little Big Town pre-race concert, presented by Fusion by Rayovac. Fans can also purchase a driver intro upgrade to get up close to your favorite drivers and teams right before they strap in for a wild Sprint All-Star Race.
Coca-Cola 600 Military Salute
From war re-enactments and giant patriotic flyovers to recognizing decorated military veterans and welcoming thousands of troops to the race, Charlotte Motor Speedway always sets the gold standard with its Coca-Cola 600 military pre-race Salute to the Troops. This year's action-packed show will include ground exercises with troops from Fort Bragg featuring Humvees, Howitzers, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and more. Rope teams from Fort Campbell will descend from Black Hawk helicopters. Other elements include a 21-gun salute from the Fort Bragg Firing Squad, a vintage war bird air parade and sky-diving members of Team Fastrax descending to the infield with Old Glory flying behind. Don't miss the biggest Memorial Day Weekend celebration on the planet.
Whether it's the unique, five-segment format, or the no-holds-barred action of a non-points race, there are plenty of things that make the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race one of the most action-packed events of the year. But perhaps nothing gets the adrenaline going like the no-speed-limit qualifying that precedes the $1 million, winner-take-all race. Fans and drivers alike can't get enough of the heart-pumping action as drivers steer their cars off the 24-degree banking and shoot down pit road at near-race speed for the only no-limit qualifying session on the calendar.
Brewing Up Fun in the Fan Zone
Fans can get a head start on their race day with a visit to the Fan Zone. New for 2015, Charlotte Motor Speedway will host theSpeedway All-American Craft Brewer's Tour, featuring Beer Haven, the world's largest mobile bar and brewery. With more than 50 regional craft brews on tap, fans can purchase three hours of unlimited sampling for just $39. Upgrade to the VIP experience for just $79 and get an extra hour of sampling, a commemorative Beer Haven sampling glass and more.
ZZ Top to Rock Coca-Cola 600 Pre-Race
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group ZZ Top will bring their iconic tunes, trademark beards and dark sunglasses to Charlotte Motor Speedway for what promises to be an energetic pre-race concert to get fans fired up before the green flag falls on the Coca-Cola 600, Sunday, May 24.
ZZ Top will perform a 45-minute hit-filled set in the infield of the legendary 1.5-mile superspeedway just hours before NASCAR's best are scheduled to take the track for the ultimate test of man and machine. The concert is free for all Coca-Cola 600 race ticket holders, and fans can get even closer to the stage with a pit pass.
Fun Food Frenzy
Candied-Bacon Lollipops, the Crank Shaft Burrito and the Speedway Picnic Burger will make their delicious debut during the 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Candied Bacon Lollipops combine the savory saltiness of thick-cut bacon with the sweetness of brown sugar and maple syrup and an added kick of Sriracha chili sauce and black pepper, creating a medley of flavors that will satisfy the taste buds. The Crank Shaft Burrito is a 6.5-pound masterpiece consisting of four 12-inch tortillas stuffed with 1.5 pounds of baked beans, 1.5 pounds of coleslaw and 3 pounds of Carolina pulled pork, tossed with house-made 'Speedway City' barbecue sauce, and topped with 8 ounces of white queso, 4 ounces of jalapeños, more baked beans, slaw and pulled pork. Made to share with family and friends, the 6,209-calorie Speedway Picnic Burger eight ¼-pound burgers, eight hotdogs, 1.5 pounds of pulled pork, 1 pound of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and eight slices of American cheese piled on a 14-inch sesame seed bun.
Share a Coke with Friends
After enjoying all those great food options, fans can wash down their tasty treats with plenty of ice-cold Coca-Cola and meet Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers Joey Logano, Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman with a $79 Coca-Cola Party Pass ticket upgrade. The Coca-Cola Party also includes simulators, interactive games, show cars, giveaways and more, all before the green flag falls on the 56th running of the Coca-Cola 600.
Join the Ultimate Race Day Pit Party
Want to get even closer to the action? Purchase a Coca-Cola 600 pit pass and join the Pit Party on Saturday, May 24. The Race Day Pit Party lets fans rub elbows with the stars of the sport. Before the Coca-Cola 600 rolls into high gear, fans will have the opportunity to take part in Q&A sessions with Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, and Paul Menard. The Pit Party also includes live music and other entertainment throughout the afternoon.
Be a VIP with Speedway Children's Charities
Fans cans bid on exclusive experiences when they participate in the popular Speedway Children's Charities Ride of a Lifetime and VIP auctions for the upcoming 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder, May 15-24. Ride along with the biggest names in NASCAR on a parade lap during driver introductions, shadow NASCAR on FOX personality Jamie Little in the pits, celebrate in Victory Lane with the winner of the biggest all-star event in sports or win a meet-and-greet with country megastars Little Big Town or Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top.
To place a bid or to visit the full list of auction packages available, visit the Speedway Children's Charities auction site.
16,000 Square Feet of Awesome
Charlotte Motor Speedway always leads the way in finding innovative ways to entertain race fans during NASCAR race weekends and throughout the year. The speedway's latest over-the-top addition is SpeedwayTV, a giant 16,000-square-foot high-definition TV -- situated along the backstretch for optimal viewing. SpeedwayTV has revolutionized the at-track experience by providing live leaderboard updates, replays, live in-car cameras and other interactive content for fans throughout the facility. With cameras roaming the pits and the grandstands, fans might even see themselves on the 200-foot-by-80-foot behemoth.
Great seats are still available for events throughout the 10 Days of Thunder, and the 10-Day pass starts at just $199 and weekend passes start at just $99. To purchase tickets, camping and race-day upgrades, fans should call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or shop online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.