NASCAR Hall of Fame: Charlotte, the stock car Mecca

Although the popularity of the various NASCAR circuits is widespread throughout America, the southern states of the United States remain the most popular place for stock-car Racing. This probably explains why most of the major teams involved in NASCAR are located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The leaders of the Sprint Cup are Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs, and Jack Roush, to name just a few. NASCAR headquarters is located in Daytona Beach but has offices in four cities in North Carolina: Charlotte, Mooresville, Concord, and Conover.

Not surprisingly, the NASCAR Hall of Fame was erected in downtown Charlotte. It is an imposing building opened in 2010 and whose front part is made up of a very large glazed area that allows ensuring an excellent luminosity for the main room which hosts a symbolic track on which are exhibited the cars of former champions or which have marked the history of stock-car races over the years.

There are cars from the legendary Hudson Hornet of the 1950s to the famous number 43 car of Richard Petty, The stock-car legend who has won 200 victories throughout his career. But this Hall of Fame is more than an exhibition of champions cars. Several attractions bring us back to the past by staging yesterday’s workshops, mechanical components of the vehicles of yesterday and many memories belonging to the greats of this sport. But the present is not ignored. For example, we find a car that is used nowadays and rid of its bodywork so that we can discover its mechanical and safety components.

Much of the building is dedicated to interactive activities. For example, you can try to replace a tire on a real race car or simulate a full fuel tank. An interesting detail: tablets placed on the floor indicate the best places to take pictures. By the way, we would like to highlight the trailer of Jimmy Johnson’s car number 48, which won the Sprint Cup championship six times and an impressive set of tools from the same team.

But surely the highlight of any visit is this giant race simulator that features several real-size cars. A screen in the car gives you the impression of being on track while the ranking of the participants is displayed on a giant screen.

Most of the big NASCAR teams have great workshops to make and prepare cars, and it’s possible to visit several of them. A glass corridor on the second floor allows visitors to discover this fascinating world without disturbing the mechanics.

As part of the recent launch of the Camry, Toyota has allowed us to visit the workshops of the Joe Gibbs Racing team, which tracks Camry driven by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth. Not to mention that Carl Edwards will join JGR for the 2015 season. It is one of the largest teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the spearhead of Toyota. The owner is one of the most popular fans of the NASCAR teams because his manager, Joe Gibbs, is extremely well known as the former head coach of The Washington Redskins, who won the Super Bowl three times.

With three advanced drivers, this requires facilities up to the task. In fact, for each race, it is necessary to bring two cars per driver. Not to mention that the team has to develop cars according to the circuits visited. We need it for super circuits, the usual oval tracks, and the shorter ones. Each requires a different machine without forgetting those specially designed for road circuits. So I’ll let you calculate the car requirements for each driver and the facilities you need to manage it.

The engines are supplied by Toyota and shipped from California before being installed in the cars, without major modification. To emphasize, they are replaced at each race. On the other hand, this team is one of the few to manufacture most steering and suspension parts in its workshops using computer-controlled machines.

Team Joe Gibbs is also involved in the Nationwide Series in which Kyle Bush dominates virtually every race when he is entered. The cars in this series are manufactured in separate workshops, they are always Toyota, while the engine development is carried out by the team from Toyota mechanics.

Initially a case of bootleggers driving modified cars and registering them for race weekend races, NASCAR has developed over the past 60 years into a gigantic empire competing on impressive tracks such as the Talladega, Daytona and Charlotte tracks, to name a few. You only have to look at the seriousness of this organization to conclude that we are a long way from the heroic times when pilots drove around smoking cigars and wearing cowboy boots. No way!