One Last Roar

May's double dose of NASCAR races gets most of the attention, but true fans appreciate “the October race” as one of the season's last chances for thrills -- and for tailgating



It's officially called the Bank of America 500. But in these parts, it's referred to simply as "the October race," and it's very different from the two races held in May at Lowe's Motor Speedway. When fans arrive at the track in the morning to begin tailgating, it's warm out. But by nightfall, when the race begins, it's cool and crisp.

The excitement of The Chase is in the air, along with the smell of burned rubber. As many as 165,000 fans are in the stands. Thousands more are in the infield -- where NASCAR's true dynamic is on full display. In one lot you'll find half-a-million-dollar RVs with plasma TVs affixed to the outside and executives, sponsors, and drivers' wives watching the race. Just yards away are die-hard race fans sitting on the backs of trucks and on rickety wooden decks built atop old school buses.

It's not just about the race, it's about the experience, as these photographs from last year's Bank of America 500 show (this year's race is October 14). If you're not eating fried food, then there must be something wrong with you. If you're not getting wasted, you're wasting your time. Fans don't have to tell you which of the forty-three drivers they're pulling for (even though they do). You know because it's on their hat, T-shirt, jacket, diaper bag, tattoo, koozie, lawn chair -- everywhere. The cars are loud, so people wear earplugs. They talk, but their neighbor can't hear them. It doesn't matter, though. They just nod their heads with beers in hand, and everything is understood.

It's the October race. 

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