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)


  1. Awesome! I know basically nothing about NASCAR, but I'm glad you had a cool time.

  2. That seemed to really be an awesome trip! Glad you had so much fun!

  3. Funny what you said about Jack in the Box. It wasn’t that long ago that I learned Jack in the Box wasn’t a national chain like McDonald’s. Same with Peter Piper Pizza. Blew my mind a little bit when I learned that.


    1. Peter Pan Pizza is a totally new one for me, learning about it right here in your comment!

  4. One heck of a road trip; happy that you got to make it.

  5. Glad you had such an amazing road trip! Looks like you had a blast.

  6. That looks like an awesome trip.

    I had no idea Lego stores sold individual bricks. My 8-year-old is really into Legos but sometimes loses important pieces - might have to check one out.

    1. I didn't know either...this was the first Lego store I've been in. I know they have one in Rockefeller Center but it was too crowded when I was there to get into it (Sunday before Christmas 2019)

  7. I can tell you enjoyed it! ... Not into NASCAR but I appreciated all the trip photos, just to see the scenery. I've only flown over North Carolina, never been there, although I know what's got to be hundreds of people who have moved there from NY during my lifetime.

    1. I love seeing all the places in the country. It's so much fun. I know a lot of people that have moved down there as well...both Carolinas.

  8. Great story, Billy! There are so many good artifacts in that museum. I think my favorite photo is the poster showing the shapes of all the different race tracks. It really helps to show how NASCAR is not just people driving around in an oval every week. (Also, your brother is one cool dude!)

    1. There were so many awesome things, I can't pick a favorite.

  9. You drove by my neck of the woods going down I-81 through the Blue Ridge Mountains!

    1. It's beautiful scenery! I am looking forward to doing it again in the future.

  10. I've never been into car racing of any kind, but about 20-25 years ago, I watched a program on the History Channel about rum runners, which towards talked a little bit about those guys, and their cars, racing each other in what would later be NASCAR. It was pretty interesting. I've thought about looking up which drivers started that way and trying to collect their autographs, but have yet to commit to it. In the meantime, I just have the Junior Johnson auto that I pulled out of 2014 Golden Age box.

    1. Well, good news for you because you almost have a complete collection of autographs already. Most of those early guys didn't live long enough to sign autograph cards.

  11. Great pics, thanks for sharing! Your enthusiasm was evident in all the pictures!

  12. Great post and photos. Love NASCAR and had been looking forward to you sharing these. I've never been so it's great to see what is there. I liked the Kulwicki and Wallace championship cars. But everything is great. Sounds like a great time and happy you were able to enjoy. I'd done the same thing and picked up a bunch of cars. I can only imagine how fun it was. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you! It was absolutely one of the best days of my life and I highly recommend visiting!