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50 States Day 237

  Charlotte and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, 47 miles

"You can overcome anything in the world except fate."
~ Richard Petty

The NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Racing) Hall of Fame featured, "Wrecks" in their changeable gallery. Must be some Christmas theme. But between the videos and the actual smashed cars, you can't not look at it, like driving by a... a... car crash. Bad analogy. Actually, no analogy. It gives a person insight into the safety built into the cars and tracks when you see horrific crashes and drivers walk away. Or wobble, but under their own shaky power.

Like Mike Harmon, March 22, 2002. He hit the wall in Bristol head on, ripping the car in half. Then Johnny Sauter ripped though the passenger side of the car and tore off what remained. Mike walked out of the car (leaving via the opened up center) uninjured.

Let's roll the tape back to our entry to the Hall of Fame. For twenty bucks we got plastic cards and were directed to computers that ask all kinds of information. I called myself Bubby Racedriver, so we'll see where they sell my information. Besides if they want ALL my information, they could get it from Google, who probably knows how many times I've passed gas in the past year (236, don't look it up).

However, we got to pick our hosts for the computers throughout the Hall, so QG picked Darrel Waltrip and I chose Richard Petty. When you slide your card into a kiosk, your host person introduces it. Pretty cool, really.

Fortunately for QG and me, we both enjoy car racing, and she actually follows it closer than me. And the nice things about NASCAR are the personalities and stories, and they delivered. Two examples:

Louise Smith raced in the Modified Series from 1946 to 1956. Once she took the car to the races at Daytona (back when they raced on the beach and the highway) and she wrecked it- landing upside down on another car. The NSACAR people got her car righted and she finished the race. She dropped the car off to be fixed on the way home and rode the bus. When her husband asked her where the car would happen to be, she said, "You bought yourself a lemon. I had to drop it in Augusta to get it fixed." Her husband then presented the newspaper article, with photos, of the crash. Oops.

Tim Flock raced NASCAR and became a two time champion. His car owner decided to have some fun so he got a Rhesus monkey to ride along with him. Tim raced with the imp leashed in, but on its eighth race, got loose and crawled onto the floor on the passenger side. He poked his face into an opening in the floor, and the wheel threw up a rock and struck him. 

The monkey got pretty upset, and Tim claims "got a monkey on his back" may have come from him, as the primate went a little crazy, and had to be dropped off during a pit stop. Apparently the rules were a bit more lenient then. Probably now there's a section about not allowing live animals to ride in the cars.

Have you ever watched the teams perform pit stops and said to yourself, "Shoot, I could do that."? They had a tire changing display where you can put together a team with a gas man, jack man and tire changer, and run against the clock. And they stick folks in life sized cars that simulate in actual race to compete with one another.

The HoF features tons of history, mementos, videos and cars, an amazing collection. Driver's suits and trophies, pieces of wrecked cars, cars that are opened up to display their safety features, and simulators give the customer his money's worth.
We certainly enjoyed it.

Then they dumped us in the gift shop.

Now, race fed and happy, Quilter Girl!

There was a lot of fascinating history at the Hall of Fame, including Tony Stewart's tux. At first we thought the place was small, a movie, the crash section and a display with race cars on a simulated track with graduated banking. The Talladega track has the most banking at 33 degrees, try walking on that! It turns out that the museum goes on for two more floors with exhibits, cars, stories, films and interactive exhibits. All of this with a great gift store and Buffalo Wild Wings. Whoo hoo, dinner and no going out in the cold. We had a great meal and a dose of trivia before leaving. We found a traffic jam on the way home as there is serious construction on I-85. Try going from 4 lanes of traffic to 2 on a Friday at 5. We are safely tucked into the motel room with the heat on!

Tomorrow we ride to Columbia, South Carolina and the Capitol. See you then!


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