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November 3, 2007

Written November 25

Dear Friends and Families,


Days after our peaceful walk through the Pommersfelden fields, I was back in America. I had a couple days of work in Lynchburg, Virginia, and then I started a week or so in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte is the home of NASCAR Motor Racing and of the race course currently called "Lowe's Motor Speedway." (Sports venues change names all the time and, sometime soon, the track will probably be called something else.)

The Speedway was built in 1959 and, despite an early bankruptcy, has grown to be the center of the huge "stock car" racing industry. For $5, visitors can get a quick tour of the track and that sounded like a real deal for me (besides, I really have nothing to do when I am on business travel.)


I paid my fee and jumped into a racing vehicle, a 12-person van driven by a pleasant tour guide. Everyone has to start somewhere. Out on the infield of the track, there was a "go cart" race being run and, from the professional-looking pit crews,I had to believe this was the big leagues for small racers. After the pass through the infield, the van driver took us out on the mile-and-a-half banked track. She stopped our top-heavy bus at the top of one of the 24-degree banked turns and everyone fell into the person on the left. After that, we zipped a lap at 80 miles an hour, plenty fast for a van but less than half the speed of the normal cars on this track. (And considerably less than normal autobahn speeds back home.)

There were eight cars waiting to take visitors who were willing to pay more than $5 for a more exciting ride. For $70, you could get two or three laps as a passenger and for about $300, the schools would teach you enough to drive yourself around the oval track. Maybe next time I'll be brave enough.

The tour guide remarked about how this was the most expensive gas in America, $7.50 a gallon. I couldn't help but think about the gas back home in Germany, currently running about 50 cents more a gallon than that.


All in all, it was a fun way to spend a morning. I still don't know anything about the specifics of being a NASCR racing fan, but this may be a start.


John and Marianne


NASCAR: http://www.nascar.com/

Lowe's Motor Speedway: http://www.lowesmotorspeedway.com/

Superspeedway Track Facts

  • Length: 1.5 miles or 7, 920 feet
  • Frontstretch: 1,980 feet
  • Backstretch: 1,500 feet
  • Turns 1 & 2: 2,400 feet
  • Turns 3 & 4: 2,040
  • Radius Turns 1 & 2: 685 feet
  • Radius Turns 3 & 4: 625 feet
  • Banking in corners: 24-degrees
  • Banking in straightaways: 5-degrees
  • Seating capacity: 165,000
  • There are more than 160 flagpoles located throughout the speedway property.
  • The speedway has more than 1,900 toilets on property for it's fans.
  • Nearly 7,000 trash cans are placed throughout speedway property to collect the 400 tons of trash that will be generated during a NASCAR event weekend.
  • Three 30-foot truckloads of paper products (paper towels/toilet paper) will be used at race time.
  • It takes 6,000 people and more than 100,000 hours of work to carry out the UAW-GM Quality 500 - twice the effort it takes to put on the Super Bowl.
  • Lowe's Motor Speedway spends nearly $800,000 a year on landscaping to make sure the grounds look nice for its visitors.
  • Lowe's Motor Speedway ground crews use more 35 tractors and 21 lawn mowers to keep the speedway's nearly 2,000 acres manicured.
  • On Coca-Cola 600 race day, the nearly 180,000 people at Lowe's Motor Speedway make it the fourth largest city in North Carolina behind Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro.
  • The land Lowe's Motor Speedway now occupies was the site of a working plantation during the Civil War.
  • George Washington ate lunch and rested in a house that once served as the speedway's office.
  • The small one-fifth-mile paved oval located outside the turn -three tunnel is known as "Outback Speedway," because it's located "outback."
  • The inner perimeter road around Lowe's Motor Speedway is named in honor of three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip, a five-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600.




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