Oh yeah, yet another enjoyable race. We had competition on a tiny paperclip, some beatin’, some bangin’, and a few dozen mentions of the legendary Martinsville hotdog. Along with melting tire beads, brake failures, and the appearance of a freight train, discussions of the $2.00 treat pervade the broadcasts from the hills of Virginia. That’s as it should be. No matter what track you visit, food and beverage always are a main feature of any NASCAR fan’s weekend.
Now, whether you adore the taste of the town or not is entirely a matter of personal opinion. When I visited Martinsville a few years back, I did my duty and filled up a tray with a half dozen dogs. I unwrapped them, licked my lips and prepared for NASCAR nirvana…
It didn’t happen. I am sorry to say the snappy, pink sausages did not win me over. Yes, at two bucks they are possibly the best deal at any venue I’ve visited. And with their popularity I can certainly appreciate that they probably pay for a huge percentage of the weekend’s concession sales. But, no, the Martinsville dog did not have me swooning in my seat. However, that’s not to say there weren’t plenty of other opportunities to indulge. There usually are. The menu does vary as you travel across the country, but there are some staples to be found where ever you go.
My personal favorite treat is a waffle cone filled with Bruster’s black raspberry chocolate chunk ice cream at NHMS. Perhaps it’s the magical combination of a day at the track, but I swear I can’t find such scrumptious ice cream anywhere else.
In Las Vegas, I vote for the kettle corn. I’m always willing to find out what the giant line is for, when no other vendor has people waiting. So, I got in line in front of the pop-up tent. Twenty minutes later, I was munching down on sweet, salty, melt-in-your-mouth, hot out of the kettle popcorn. I will never forget that bag of corn. Absolutely divine.
Now, at Martinsville I did have a memorable meal but we had to do a bit of driving to find the fan recommendation. The Checkered Pig http://www.checkeredpig.com/ was well worth the effort. Again, let those lines work for you! At lunch time, we had to wait about twenty minutes to get a table at the bustling BBQ spot. However, everything on our plates was awesome, service was friendly and the bottle of sauce we took home was just as awesome months later.
Further south we visited Darlington. The hauler parade gave us ample opportunity to munch on lots of local offerings. However, nothing beat the half-peck of tiny peaches I picked up at the farmers’ market. Sometimes simple is the best.
In Bristol, I did attempt cheesy grits at a local diner. The jury is still out on this. Based on the fact I love corn in almost any other iteration, I’m stumped as to why I haven’t met a grit that got my taste buds dancing. But there was the moonshine available at the track. The plastic collectible mason jar that the Mountain Dew ‘shine was served in remains an awesome reminder of an awesome night.
Not every track serves up memorable food. Atlanta may have permanently harmed my enjoyment of cheesesteak. That was not cheese served over the meat. It couldn’t have been! Michigan, Pocono and Dover all have left my race weekend taste memory blank. I know I ate, but I can’t tell you what version of burger, pizza or bbq I may have eaten in a race induced frenzy. I firmly believe I simply didn’t find that one vendor who stands out from all the others.
So, now I have to ask. What is your favorite racing meal when at the track? I want to be prepared for when I visit your neck of the woods.
Wait! Was that the No. 47 finishing right behind Kyle Busch on Sunday? Yes, it was. I guess the days of cheering for the underdog are not over, yet. Go, ‘Dinger!
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