Sunday, September 25, 2022

One of the greatest days of my life!

 Anyone who has read any of my posts in the past knows that NASCAR is the be-all-end-all for me. Last weekend, my brother took me to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina...and it was better than I could have possibly imagined. 

I took the most photos I've ever taken in a day, over 3000, but don't worry...I won't post them all here. I will post some that stand out and a few links to the rest. 

First, we drove through Pennsylvania, 
and then crossed into Maryland! It was my first time crossing the Mason-Dixon line. My previous record for furthest south was New Jersey, which is embarrassing for such a NASCAR fanatic.
We were in Maryland for only 12 miles before reaching West Virginia

and then regular Virginia!
Love seeing cows
We drove through the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains 
Butt Hollow Road? Glad I don't live there!
Shortly after you turn from I-81 to I-77 you have a beautiful vista which I couldn't really capture in photo, it's much nicer in person. 
I saw 4 NASCAR haulers on their way to Bristol although only got photos of two of them. This is the #13 & 66 Xfinity team, MBM Motorsports. 
Another scenic overlook
The entrance to the North Carolina Welcome Center is actually still in Virginia!
A map of the state. 
Even though I had never been here before, this is pretty much the center of my universe. 
Denny Hamlin's hauler. I also saw both 23XI haulers but missed a photo. 
construction where I-77 meets I-40
Lake Norman, a beautiful sight. No wonder most of the drivers live along it. 
After we got there, we went into Charlotte city center at night, and it's beautiful and colorful. 

Ahh, the promised land! 
The next morning we drove back into Charlotte...

and we visited the Hall of Fame, and it instantly became one of my absolute favorite places on Earth!

You can choose to appear on the big screen and of course I did! You can see my brother taking my picture on the far left of this image

The main reason we went now is because Dale Earnhardt Jr had his display this year, having been inducted back in January. Each inductee gets a display for the year they are inducted, and with him being my all-time favorite, I mentioned offhand how I really wish I could have seen it and my brother made it happen. This is the car that won the 2014 Daytona 500!

Red Farmer...
and Mike Stefanik were the other two people inducted this year. 
a model built by Mike Stefanik

Bubba's winning car from Talladega last year

The Timeline of history was perhaps the most impressive display...even more than the cars...

Jimmie Johnson's 2006 Nextel Cup trophy

The 50th Anniversary in 1998 is one of the most pivotal moments of my life. It's when I went from a casual fan to a diehard fan that spent most every waking hour trying to learn as much about the sport as possible.
My first Winston Cup Champion trophy seen in person! Several more appeared just a few feet down the hall. 1995 is another important year to me in the sport.

The trophy from the 1993 Daytona 500, the first race I ever saw!!

Terry Labonte's trophy from the year I was born

The helmet worn by Donnie Allison in the 1979 Daytona 500, The Fight.

Smokey Yunick's boots

The actual, original photo that determined the first Daytona 500!
Bill France's hat
an entry form for the first ever Cup race! 

This team invented several concepts that are standard fare in NASCAR today- the first to carry their cars in enclosed trailers, the first to have a showcar and the first to issue hero cards. I'd love to find one but they are rare. They issued them in 1955, my oldest is only 1969. 
A replica of Red Vogt's garage. Red Vogt was the first superstar mechanic before NASCAR was formed and for it's first few years. Cars he prepared won the first NASCAR Championships in multiple divisions. 

They have a room documenting the champions of each major series, except for the Sportsman division which is now Xfinity. This image is what I call Winston West because that's what I grew up with.
First Championship trophy! NASCAR's Modified division is the oldest still competing, dating to 1948
First Cup trophy!
First Sportsman trophy, this series ended in 1981 and NASCAR does not have the records for it. They were never properly kept.
What I call the Busch series, now known as Xfinity, replaced Sportsman in 1981 and this is the trophy from that year.
First truck series trophy...from 1995, this is the only major NASCAR division that started in my lifetime, I saw this trophy be awarded live on my TV. And now I've seen it in person!

Looking down at the Simulators
Trophies in profile
Inductees. Before 2022 it was 5 people per year, now it's 3.

Trophy from Nashville race in 2021 display case
Trophy from Bristol night race, an actual sword. 

A piece of the SAFER Barrier that Michael McDowell hit in Texas in 2008, a legendary crash that saw him barrell-roll down the track. 
They had a special exhibit on the 75th Anniversary of Martinsville Speedway

2022 Cup Trophy...who will win it? Nobody knows, yet. 

There's an exhibit on Jimmie Johnson there currently.
including Jimmie's last Cup car.

They have an interactive display listing some of the people who are no longer with us. I took a picture of each person
You better believe I got this shirt!

Models and diecast in the gift shop

Buffalo Wild Wings is connected to the Hall of Fame and it too has a NASCAR theme. 

We were there from 10 minutes after it opened until 10 minutes before it closed. If they didn't close, I wouldn't have left. 

But since we had to leave, we did some other stuff...
Charlotte is a noticeably clean city. I like it.

Then we drove to Metalmorphasis which is an interesting moving sculpture. 
We went to Jack in the Box, which left the northeast around 1979. It was my first time eating there and my brother's first time since circa 1979.
The next day we left to come home, but made a few stops first. When we left the hotel for the first time that morning, a tiny lizard was clinging to our tire! 
Then we went to South Carolina, just to say we had been there. We visited the welcome center then turned around and headed to the North Carolina welcome center.
And I have to be honest, the NC Welcome Center from the South is awesome, and fun to visit in and of itself. They had some sculptured art along the side of the hallway and this is my favorite, a live chicken standing on a cooked chicken while knives and forks fly by in the background.
I had no idea that Vick's Vapo-rub and the orange and peanut butter crackers, or Krispy Kreme, originated in North Carolina! 
Then we drove to Kannapolis, which is the home town of the Earnhardt family...
to visit the Dale Earnhardt Memorial Statue in town. 
If you look close there is a chipmunk on the wall.
We went to the Concord Mills Mall and went into the Lego store...
but the Lionel Store is the main reason I went there. 
because since 2011 Lionel has owned Action and has the exclusive license for NASCAR diecast. I had been saving for three months and brought home more than 90 new 1/64 cars on this trip.

there are historical markers in the mall too. With most of the blogosphere being baseball people I figured this one would be a hit..ok, pun intended. 
we then headed towards the track...
and visited Charlotte Motor Speedway.
REALLY visited it!! 

It was amazing and pure luck of being in the right place at the right time that we got this opportunity. 

We stopped in Virginia on the way home, and the next day before returning home we went to the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. 
I saw my oldest car ever, this one, from 1895! 

They even let you go in some of the busses! 

Upstairs has a collection of radiator mascots. 

Then we went home, with me totally exhausted! We got home a week ago today and I'm still working on getting everything uploaded! 

Here are the albums but I would not expect that everything will be uploaded yet by time this goes live.

In addition to all this greatness, I got 273 new places photo documented for my Places I've Been project (5 Maryland, 13 New Jersey, 89 North Carolina, 76 Pennsylvania, 6 South Carolina, 78 Virginia, 6 West Virginia)