NASCAR tailgating has always been something to be cherished. Fans all over North America who love the sport of auto racing, from Bristol to Fontana, get together to celebrate through brews and barbecues.
Whether it’s a full stack of ribs cooked before the race, or a full cup of bourbon afterwards, the festivities go on throughout the entire weekend. Though no one is certain of who will win the race, one thing can’t be contested: NASCAR fans know how to party!
Sometimes, people don’t even go to the races. Instead, they come from all around just to get a taste of what tailgating at the NASCAR weekend is like. That’s a true testament of how great tailgating at the NASCAR weekend can be.
Below, we’ve compiled one big list of the best NASCAR tracks to tailgate, camp, and party at. Whether you’re schnockered in a camp chair, or climbing the stands for race, these 12 tracks (in no particular order) are at the top of our tailgating list.
— Talladega, Alabama —
What better track to kick off our list other than the NASCAR party capital of the world? When it comes to tailgate parties, Talladega is beyond bonkers. If the parade of John Deere tractors isn’t enough for you, you’ve got barbecue sauce wrestling, the Jell-O crawl, and the Miss Mud Queen Pageant.
If that’s still not enough, down on the main boulevard, before the races, the drivers ride floats and toss out colored beads like it’s Mardi Gras. The Talladega races are truly cause for a party that the whole town gets in on. With acres of campgrounds, parking lots, and the infield of a 2.66-mile track, there’s plenty of happenings to get lost in.
Bristol Motor Speedway
— Bristol, Tennessee —
Bristol is not just your average track. The call it the Last Great Colosseum for a reason. This half-mile track is undoubtedly the most intense racing in NASCAR, and it draws out some of the most intense parties because of that. Nestled in the mountains of Tennessee, Bristol lives up to its fame.
This legendary Tennessee racetrack seats 160,000 fans around 140 decibels of roaring thunder. Bristol makes for one of the best NASCAR tailgate locations because everyone (and everything) is so jam-packed together. With that in mind, it’s never a very far walk to where the next raging party is happening.
Michigan International Speedway
— Brooklyn, Michigan —
MIS is located in the tiny farm town of Brooklyn, Michigan. Amidst rolling hills of freshly-growing corn and the occasional barnyard, a monstrous 2-mile track hosts NASCAR races twice a year. Though you’ll have to try a little harder to find the best party in the area, due to the plethora of campgrounds, Michigan hardly falls short when it comes to a great tailgating experience.
With foam parties, live concerts, and those crazy Canadians coming down from Ontario, MIS always creates a weekend to remember (or forget…depending on what you were drinking). The craziness that ensues over the race weekend is up to you, just know that what happens at MIS stays at MIS.
Daytona International Speedway
— Daytona Beach, Florida —
Daytona International Speedway, home to one of the most prestigious races in NASCAR. Just like most of the other track locations, tailgating and partying has dulled-down in comparison to how it used to be. Nonetheless, each campground neighborhood surrounding or within DIS has its fair share of nightly debauchery.
What makes Daytona even more enticing is Lake Lloyd just beyond the backstretch of the track. It surely makes those hot Florida days that much cooler having a lake nearby. In addition, no other track can boast its nearness to Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center, and the Atlantic Ocean.
— Sonoma, California —
Who says Sonoma is just for wine? Whether you call it Sears Point, Infineon, or just Sonoma, this 2.52-mile road course was made for fierce racing. Road courses offer a different kind of experience for NASCAR fans. Not only can you tailgate pretty much along any turn of the track, but the rolling hills nearby make prime viewing from afar.
Sonoma draws out a unique mix of NASCAR fans for each race. Due to its location in wine country, you’re just as likely to find fans eating salad and drinking Riesling as you are to find fans shotgunning beers and grilling hot dogs. Sonoma is definitely one of the coolest tracks in racing, both in temperature and appeal.
Texas Motor Speedway
— Fort Worth, Texas —
It’s true what they say: everything is bigger in Texas. The same goes for the mega-parties that take place with tailgater of the race weekend. Some of the parking lots even open up two weeks before race day, in order to accommodate for tons of extra tailgate time.
This Great American Speedway is probably the only track with rattlesnakes on the barbecue and its own garage area craft beer. Texas is one of the best tracks for throwing epic nighttime parties among the old converted school buses, giant RVs and the brave campers in tents.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
— Las Vegas, Nevada —
Las Vegas is, hands down, the party capital of the world. It’s not only the biggest adult playground on the face of the earth, but it has a NASCAR track to boot. As one of the newest tracks to NASCAR, this diamond in the desert is unlike any other kind of tailgating experience.
There’s not many other places where desert tailgating takes place, aside from maybe the Burning Man festival. The Nellis Air Force Base is also right across the street from the track, so be prepared for the occasional free air show during the day, and the occasional abrupt awakening when the fighter jets on a practice run early in the morning.
— Darlington, South Carolina —
Darlington Raceway, aka “The Track Too Tough to Tame,” aka “The Lady in Black,” is one of the classic NASCAR tailgating locations. Built in 1950 and shaped like an egg, this track is one of a kind. Nothing invites the end of summer in better than Labor Day Weekend at Darlington Raceway.
Due to the long history of Darlington being recognized one of the greatest in auto racing, the whole town gets involved when NASCAR comes through. Those in the community rent out campsites on their front lawns and partake in a lot of the tailgating action. There’s just nothing else like it.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
— Speedway, Indiana —
Indy is probably the most famous racetrack in the entire world, with tons of history to back it up. Originally constructed in 1909, Indy is the most historical it gets when tailgating for NASCAR races. With historical greats like A.J. Foyt, Bobby Unser, and Mario Andretti racing in the infamous Indy 500, almost nothing compares in terms of chronology.
Although things have changed drastically with the track since the good old days, due to reconstruction and expansion, Indy has a tailgating experience that is unique. There is no other track in NASCAR that boasts such a historically great saga. The fans who attend the Indy races know it too.
Charlotte Motor Speedway
— Concord, North Carolina —
Charlotte Motor Speedway has often been called “America’s Home for Racing.” The NASCAR Hall of Fame is just a short drive away from the track, and fans often come from miles around to witness racing at Charlotte. Alongside the NASCAR series, there are also events for drag racing and a 2.28-mile road course within the infield of the 1.5-mile quad-oval track.
Due to the fact that the NASCAR races are usually held over Memorial Day Weekend, much like Darlington, fans camp and tailgate for an extended period of time. With a full line-up of musical acts, and multiple days of racing, arriving at CMS is always the start of a good time.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
— Loudon, New Hampshire —
One of NASCAR’s best kept secrets. The one-mile flat track in Loudon makes for some excellent racing, and some even better tailgating. We’re not sure if those in New Hampshire know something the rest of the country doesn’t, but staying the night in a Loudon campground over the race weekend turns into one wild time.
Not only will you find fantastic seafood restaurants nearby, but if you drive east for 45 minutes, you’ll find yourself on the coast of the Atlantic. There’s also something that’s just so satisfying about being in the northeastern part of the United States. Maybe it’s the old-world charm, or maybe it’s racing.
— Homestead, Florida —
What better track to round off our list other than the champion track itself? Homestead is where all three NASCAR cup series come together to race it out in a final culmination for the season. As the southernmost NASCAR track, Homestead is complete with palm trees, tropical drinks, and numerous stock car drivers toughing it out in order to be the first to cross the black and white checkers.
While tailgating at Homestead-Miami Speedway won’t leave you covered in beer or waking up next to some random late night lover underneath a picnic table, it’s still where everything comes together. All the driver rivalries, on-track crashes, explosive celebrations, and wild tailgate parties reach their season’s end here in Florida. But even when it’s all over, and everyone packs up to head home, well…we hear Miami has some of the best nightlife around, and it’s just a scenic hour’s drive up the coast from the track.
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