It's no secret that Charlotte is a mecca for motorsports enthusiasts. But beyond the historic Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame lie quirky museums and myriad racing team headquarters—in fact, the Charlotte area is home to 90 percent of NASCAR's racing team home sites.
Cabarrus County Pit Stop
Considered one of auto racing's most innovative owners, Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the industry for more than 30 years. In 2010, his teams saw 19 victories across three touring series, including the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard—making Ganassi the only team owner in history to win all three, much less accomplish it in one season. The large viewing area at his shop lets fans watch crews prepare for the next race.
Visit the race shops of drivers Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman at this iconic speed shop just a mile from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has earned a record 12 car ownerships in NASCAR's premier division; take a trip through its museum that chronicles the many journeys to Victory Lane.
Explore the history of NASCAR driver Jack Roush, see winning race cars up close and visit an 80-seat theater at the Roush Fenway Racing Museum. Roush Fenway Racing boasts eight championships in NASCAR's top three divisions; 2018 is its 31st season of NASCAR competition. The 150,000-square-foot space is a model of sustainable design.
Yes, the Stewart behind Stewart-Haas Racing is indeed Tony Stewart, who parlayed a successful racing career (12 driving championships) into a lucrative venture with industrialist Gene Hass. Stewart's car number 14 is now driven by Clint Bowyer, part of the racing team with Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch. In addition, the team also owns car number 00—driven by Cole Custer as part of Stewart-Hass Racing's expansion into the NASCAR Infinity Series.
These are but a few of the race shops with headquarters in Cabarrus County; check out this complete list.
Kannapolis and The Intimidator
Within Cabarrus County lies Kannapolis, the hometown of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. It's here you'll find the Dale Trail, a 19-stop self-guided tour that takes visitors through Earnhardt's old stomping grounds through to his days of NASCAR glory.
Perhaps a stop at Idiot Circle, popular with Earnhardt in his teen years, is in order. At Punchy's Diner, you can try his favorite lunch—a simple tomato sandwich with lettuce and Miracle Whip on white bread. But the piéce de résistance is the nine-foot-tall, 900-pound bronze statue of the driver in Dale Earnhardt Plaza, stop No. 11. Don't forget to visit the Cabarrus County Visitors Center for a souvenir map.
Country Music, Wonder Bread and Race-Day Communication
Get up close and personal to the 2004 Chevy Monte Carlo on a race car chassis—otherwise known as the Wonder Bread Race Car—in "Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby." Will Ferrell drove the car himself for his role in the movie, which was filmed at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Backing Up Classics showcases more than 50 cars from the '50s and '60s, in addition to muscle and movie cars. It's located a stone's throw from the speedway.
Country music and motorsports merge seamlessly at the Curb Motorsports Museum, thanks to Mike Curb, owner of his namesake independent record label. A longtime racing enthusiast, Curb showcases cars he's owned—driven by NASCAR legends Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Dale Jarrett, Ron Bouchard and Johnny Sauter—alongside gold records, photos and signed posters from Wynonna Judd, Tim McGraw, Hank Williams, Jr. and Lyle Lovett. A fun piece in the collection is Lee Ann Rimes' first car, a 1995 black Dodge Viper.
Those who've rented a scanner at the speedway will recognize the red communication aids at Racing Electronics—the Charlotte-based radio manufacturer offers one of the most unusual—and we think cool—behind-the-scenes tours of its production facility. Its systems are used by each racing team to communicate on the track.
A Spin Through Lake Norman
Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the former NFL coach's racing team at the Joe Gibbs Racing shop—among his drivers are Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez and Eric Jones. While you walk around the shop and watch the teams at work on their cars through the viewing window, keep an eye out for Gibbs himself; if you're lucky enough to meet him on the floor, he'll hand you an autographed copy of his book "Game Plan For Life."
A number of owners and drivers—such as Gibbs and Hamlin—live in the Lake Norman area. Other drivers who have or who have had homes on Lake Norman include Rusty Wallace, Ray Evernham, Robert Yates, Nelson Piquet, Jr., Paul Menard and Mark Martin.