At the Crossroads of Smuggling and Nascar History
Even before the war of Independence, the population made aged corn whiskey in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, following a recipe inherited from their European ancestors and using corn spikes that grew in abundance in the area and the fresh water flowing from the Appalachians. During Prohibition, while hunting for stills, the makers of alcohol fled to the depths of the mountains. Smugglers disengaged engines, removed seats, and modified rear suspensions to support heavy cargoes. For fun, they often raced, which led to the creation of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) in 1948. Today, stock cars, dragsters, trucks, and other competing vehicles compete on approved circuits. Follow this route to discover the shops of the races, the “halls of fame” and the mythical courses taken by smugglers. Between two racing circuits, take a break in a distillery, restaurant or bar that honors this art.
First stop: Charlotte, North Carolina
Fly to Charlotte Douglas International Airport: discover Charlotte, a welcoming and cosmopolitan city, and immerse yourself in the heart of the stock-car racing capital, with its events, shops and NASCAR Hall of Fame. Spend at least half a day at the Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte, where you can use a jack, change a tire, refuel a race car in record time in a refresh stop simulator and see Junior Johnson’s still. Plan your visit so you can attend a race on Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North of Charlotte. The main races are the Coca-Cola 600 at the end of May and the Bank of America 500 at the beginning of October. These major events are challenged by the festivities that precede and follow the races, such as the 600 Festival. Try the NASCAR Racing Experience, which allows you to get to the track by sitting in the driver’s seat of a real racing car. One-and-a-half kilometers from the track, head to Hendrick Motorsports, where you can watch the cars prepare for the race, then head to Raleigh in the Northeast.
Capital Culture in Raleigh, North Carolina
The city of Raleigh, which combines modernity and history, is well worth a detour to enjoy its burgeoning music and taste scene. This lively destination, the innovation Centre and capital of North Carolina, is also home to more than 25 breweries. Fill your glass at the Raleigh Beer Garden, famous for its beer menu among the most comprehensive in the world. It is the ideal place to taste the modern alcohols which are added to the production heritage of the south-east of the country (although there are also distilleries with more limited production). Your evenings in Raleigh will be marked by bluegrass, rock, and many other musical styles: the city boasts “the most music in North Carolina.” Before heading back to Virginia, stop at a local restaurant or café to complete your stay. Don’t be afraid to ask someone in the area for advice; we’ll be happy to answer. Although Raleigh is a thriving metropolis, it has not lost its small-town charm.