The upcoming NASCAR season is right around the corner and that means thousands will be flocking to racetracks around the country to check out some of the most thrilling racing spectacles you can find anywhere in the world.
While there are thousands of ways to enjoy race weekend, few will argue with the idea that tailgating is one of the best. There’s something about being outside, enjoying the race from an RV, and bonding with friends for the weekend that is just unparalleled.
Even if you’re a seasoned football tailgater you’re bound to find NASCAR tailgating to be on a whole new level. It doesn’t matter what NASCAR event you’re at if you’re tailgating you need to know at least a few things about camping and tailgating at one of these events, and that’s exactly what this article is designed to do—teach you the essentials.
Benefits of Camping at the NASCAR Racetrack
To folks who have never tailgated a NASCAR race, it might not sound like as good of an idea as we all know it is. Those folks don’t know what they’re missing. With that in mind, here are just a few of the benefits of camping and tailgating at the race.
You’ll be Near the Action
Want to get close to the real racing action? In most cases, tailgating is the best way to do it. Sure you can get a close-up, different perspective from the stands, but tailgating gets you close like no other seat at the racetrack can. If you love the races, this is one of the best ways to experience them.
You’ll Have More Fun
I hate to take a dig at all of the great folks enjoying themselves in the stands, but I have to be honest: tailgaters have the most fun. This comes down to the fact that there are usually few rules.
You get to hang out with your friends and have fun all while watching cars race and not have to worry too much about anything. What can be more fun than that? You can hang out, enjoy a beverage or two, play some games, meet good people, and forget any troubles you may have for a while. That sounds like a win.
You’ll Be More Comfortable
Those stands aren’t super comfortable. They’re not terrible, but I’ve had a far greater time lounging in a camp chair on top of an RV in the infield than I have in the stands. I’d encourage you to experience what life is like in the stands once or twice, but I can guarantee you, you’ll be more comfortable tailgating and enjoying yourself with your crew.
You Can Do the Race Your Way
There’s no one way to tailgate a NASCAR race. One of the best things about tailgating at NASCAR races is that it is never the same. You can go to 50 races and they will all be a little different. Similar? Yes, but the same? Nope. You’ll always have a unique experience and likely make a few new friends at each race. In short, it means you can do the races any way you want to do them.
How to Get the Most Out of the NASCAR Weekend
Spending the weekend at the racetrack tailgating should be an extremely enjoyable experience. It should be filled with memories and fun times spent with friends and family. Because you only have a limited amount of time to be there, you need to make sure you are getting the most out of it.
Tailgating and camping at the racetrack isn’t something that I’d recommend you try to do on the fly. It’s very smart to plan ahead and make sure you have everything in place before you go. Because there are so many events, you should have no problem finding something that works for you and all of your friends.
Also, bringing an RV isn’t something you do last minute. RVers will show up a day or two before the race and hang out partying it up. If you want to camp and get a good spot, then you need to plan to get there early, too. Fashionably late, isn’t a thing when tailgating, especially for NASCAR races.
Do the Prep Work
Additionally, you should do some prep work ahead of time. Check the racetrack rules for RVs and camping long before you even get your group of friends and family together. Every racetrack is a little different, and you may need to make a reservation or get a permit. Check the racetrack’s website, and you should be able to find all that you need to know.
Make sure your RV is ready to go and prepped for days of use with multiple people coming and going. Check all of the RV’s systems and features to make sure they work and update or fix anything that needs it. Once you know your RV is in good shape and ready to go, you can then move on to prepping other things, very important things, like food.
Food prep is a must. While you will have plenty of time to grill out and enjoy yourself, you don’t want to have to do absolutely everything at the race. Spending some time ahead of the race to prep your food will go a long way towards making race day as enjoyable as possible.
Last, but certainly not least, have a plan for things once you get to the racetrack. You don’t need to have everything planned to the last detail, but having a little bit of an idea of where you want your cornhole games in relation to the entrance door of the RV or the location of the grill can help you once you get there to get everything situated.
Once you get to the racetrack and park your RV, there’s still a bit of prep work to be done. You need to set up your grill, games, chairs, and whatever else you’ve brought along. Get your friends, family, and fellow tailgaters to help out. They’re there to enjoy the experience so you should be able to count on them to help you get everything set up and ready for a good time.
Essential Gear for a NASCAR Tailgate
I’ve touched on a whole lot already, but I need to make one thing clear. You won’t be able to properly tailgate a NASCAR race without the proper gear.
If you’re a seasoned football tailgater, then you should be pretty well set up from a gear standpoint, but even the most seasoned pigskin tailgater won’t have all the gear necessary for NASCAR races. Here’s a list of things to take along.
Favorite Driver Merch
Who did you come to see race? Make sure you have some kind of merchandise to show off your favorite racer while tailgating. Common items include clothing, flags, water bottles, beer koozies, lanyards, and more. Some of the other items listed below might be available with your favorite driver on them, so make sure to check before you buy.
No tailgate would be complete without some outdoor games. There are all sorts that are available, but the common staple is Cornhole or Bean Bag Toss, which is shown above. This type of game can provide hours of fun and even works well if you want to do a tournament or bracket with multiple people.
No tailgate would be complete without a good grill to cook food on. Burgers, brats and hot dogs are a smart choice, but you can also get creative if you want and really do some intricate and tasty stuff. Don’t limit yourself. Also, you’ll often find cook-off challenges at many NASCAR races. All of this means you need to find a good grill. A small one like the one pictured above will be handy, but a big one can sometimes be needed.
As you might expect, you’ll be spending plenty of time outdoors and that will mean you need a good place to take a load off and relax. That’s where a good camp chair comes into play. There are plenty of options out there. Get the one that will work well for you. Do you like to put your feet up? What about having a chair that’s easy to move from place to place? Get the one that fits your purposes.
While you’re at the race, it’s never a bad idea to have a portable generator to use for some extra power. When shopping for one, make sure to get an inverter generator that’s designed to be quiet. The last thing you want is a super-loud generator. Luckily Gander carries several options to choose from.
Slow Cookers and Crockpots
There’s plenty of time at the race to have food cooking in a crockpot or slow cooker. As anyone who has tailgated before knows, slow cooker food is perfect for a day of enjoying things outdoors, and there are literally hundreds of recipes to choose from. Don’t have a slow cooker or crockpot? Gander has you covered.
You probably already have a cooler. However, if you don’t, you need to get one. Even if your RV is equipped with a good refrigerator or a small outdoor refrigerator, it’s often smart to have a cooler for beverages and whatnot. Make sure to fill it with ice ahead of time and be ready to move it to where it needs to be.
Disposable Plates, Cups, and Utensils
I know it’s not the most environmentally friendly thing to use exclusively paper plates and disposable utensils, but when you’re tailgating at a NASCAR race it can be very convenient. I’d say to try to use disposable plates for at least some of your meals to cut down on the number of dishes you have to wash.
You’re going to have camp chairs and grills outside, so it only makes sense to also add a portable folding table to the mix. This will work as a great place to set out food for folks or a place to put your grill if you have a table-top grill.
TV and Speakers
Can you tailgate without a TV and some good speakers? Yes, you can, but having a TV and some good speakers will make things even better. Does your RV already have this? Possibly. If not, you might want to think about adding it to your list of must-haves.
A bit of a practical item here. An extension cord will only make your life a whole heck of a lot easier, especially if you have a generator or some electronic equipment that you want to connect up. Buy a few. It’s always better to have extras and not need them than it is to come up short and not have enough.
Having a good First-Aid Kit is a must-have. You’re likely not going to need it, and hopefully, there will be emergency personnel at the race to handle any serious issues, but it’s never ever a bad idea to have a first-aid kit handy and be ready to use it if needed.
Don’t forget to tune into the latest NASCAR races. You can watch NASCAR on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports App. Additionally, you can catch races on FS1/FOX Sports App. You can also catch the races by checking out NASCAR free internet radio.