The food at New Hamshire International Speedway is taken care of by both the track itself and by external vendors working out of carts. The track kiosks were decrepit looking shacks with those backlit signs with the letters falling off... they professed to sell burgers for around 3 to 4 bucks or so, along with other things. The smell was enough to get me searching elsewhere. Equally disgusting was the pizza at some of the carts - some thick crust, some thin, but all of it scary looking.
So instead I went to this place - one of the carts - which made me a cheese-steaky kind of thing for about $5.50. It wasn't haute cuisine by any stretch of the imagination, but it was certainly edible, and almost even tasty!
The funnel cakes looked interesting - being from the west coast I had never seen one before!
I have to say that I would rate the food quality and selection to be worse than average for a sporting event of this type. Definitely consider bringing your own.
Oh yeah - those 2 yellow cans in the photo... that's the cheese! Mmmmmmmmmm....
New Hampshire International Speedway is located on Hwy 106 close to the town of Loudon. Getting there is surprisingly easy. Race traffic from hwy 93 is funneled thru exit #20 in the North and exit #17 in the South. No need to write that down - it is very well marked and you can't miss the signs. Ample state troopers are on hand to direct traffic and the whole thing runs very smoothly - far more so than at other tracks. Don't give it a second thought.
There are buses that go from Concord to and from the track. But pretty much everyone drives. If you're interested in the bus I'd contact NHIS and see what they say.
At vendor row at Loudon - or any other NASCAR race - you'll find trailer after trailer containing t-shirts, hats, jackets, stickers, posters, pins, flags, throw rugs, pewter beer steins, shot glasses, panties... in short, anything you can slap a number on.
What to buy: You can find driver merchandise on the internet, but nowhere will you find the selection of stuff that's available at the track. This is especially true if your favorite drivers' name isn't Gordon or Earnhardt. You can find Dale Jr. hats just laying around on the street, but if you're looking for, say, that hard-to-find Ken Shrader shot glass or maybe a Joe Nemechek bath towel, then your best bet is at the track. If you happen to like a driver who has just changed numbers, then the ONLY place you'll fnd his stuff is at the vendor trucks.
I usually go for t-shirts and hats and coffee mugs (can you ever have too many of these?), but occassionally I'll spring for a flag or those little round stickers.
What to pay: In this arena of capitalism and sponsorship run wild, supply and demand is the order of the day. Prices are actually reasonable compared to other sports - probably due to the sheer volume of goods sold. Even the Gordons and Earnhardts will have a "bargain bin" with their discontinued styles.
Here's my haul from the race... a little of everything.
That hard-to-find Ward Burton NetZero 3' X 5' flag
A couple of NHIS shirts to prove I was there (white T was only $5!)
A Mark Martin closeout football jersey (only $10!)
2 Ward Burton coffee mugs
A Ward/NZ hat
A handful of little round stickers
Not Shown: NHIS hat pin and NASCAR cup "Chace for the NEXTEL Cup" inaugural hat pin.
Not only can you get just about anyhing with a drivers' number on it, but most of the sponsors get in on the act as well. The larger sponsors will have their own trailers - independent of the drivers' trailer - where the logos will be bigger and the numbers smaller.
What to buy: Most of these are pretty lame, but if you were a collector of, say, Coca-cola memorabilia, you might find something here you might not be able to find elsewhere. Another popular trailer is the M&Ms trailer, with all sorts of junk with the cute lil' candies on 'em.
What to pay: Amazingly, people actually pay money for this stuff. Me, I think if you're going to be a walking advertisement, than they can at least sell you the shirt for next to nothing. But the prices are pretty much comparable with the drver merchandise.
Loudon Warnings and Dangers
The Main Grandstand - pictured here - is a little over a quarter mile long and seats a majority of the 90,000 or so folks who come to the races here. And, incredibly, there are only two entrances, one at either side, where everyone is funnelled to enter into the grandstand from ground level.
This picture was taken about 20 minutes before race time.
Now, I have been in stadium crushes before - mostly at rock concerts - and I would say that the situation here was bordering on dangerous. Myself and a few other nimble folks were able to get out of the mess, but we had to climb over the trailer hitch of a food shack to do it (you can't see it, but this mob of people continues right, under the grandstand, and is solid all the way to the food service area).
There is another way to get into the stands, and that's by walking up several flights of stairs and coming down from the top. I would strongly recommend that you do this, particularly 30 minutes before the race, when everyone is running to get their seats.
Maybe I'm overreacting... but this scene pictured here brought back some really bad memories. If you've never been in a stadium crush before, count yourself lucky.
Loudon What to Pack
Luggage and bags: As usual, no coolers over 14." The usual rules apply as to glass containers and alcoholic beverages. A back pack or large purse is good.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: BRING WARM CLOTHES IF YOU GO TO THE FALL RACE! The temperatue was in the mid 50s with a stiff, cold wind blowing in from the rear of the main grandstand - the folks in the upper rows were really getting blown around. Bring a windbreaker and a warm sweater at the very least (but it really was jacket weather). A hat and scarf are also a good idea.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring ear plugs - if you forget, don't worry - most of the vendor wagons sell them for 2 or 3 bucks. Otherwise the usual - sunscreen and any pain reliever you may need.
Photo Equipment: I took a bunch of pics with my digital camera. You'll defnitely want to use the zoom, but you may end up with blurry pics if you don't have a steady hand. Tripods are not allowed at NHIS.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: The seats are aluminum bleachers with backs. A seat cushion's a good idea if you have one. Again, if you forget, there are plenty of folks more than happy to sell you one.
Miscellaneous: A really indispensable item, in my opinion, is a pair of radio headphones - available at Radio Shack and other places for, like, $30 tops. You can listen to the race commentary and hear what's going on in the pits and other places you can't see.
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