Even if you’re a veteran to the tailgating scene at football games or concerts, your first NASCAR tailgate party will probably make you feel like a rookie if you’re not properly prepared.
Just as NASCAR is a sport unlike any other, NASCAR tailgating is an art and event all its own. In fact, some fans show up days in advance just to experience the tailgating camaraderie and energy of NASCAR, even if they still end up watching the race on their TV in the parking lot.
For many NASCAR fans, tailgating is actually a camping experience that just happens to have the bonus of their favorite sport attached to it. If you’re ready to try it for yourself, here are a few tips to help make your first tailgating event a total winner.
1. Bring food. Lots of it.
If there’s one thing that NASCAR fans love, it’s sharing lots of great food together. We’re not talking about your grandma’s casserole; today’s tailgating experts break out the grills and turn it into a serious cookout. Whether it’s fueled by charcoal or propane, your burgers or chicken or ribs taste best when made on the grill. Keep it safe by keeping your grill at least six feet from vehicles, pets and children – and never leave your grill unattended!
2. Get there early, plan to stay late.
Tailgating is all about the community and the experience, so the earlier you get there, the more you’ll get out of it. Experienced tailgaters know to get there several hours before the race begins – maybe even a day or two beforehand if they are camping too – so there’s time to kick back, socialize and soak in the ambience. (Getting there early also means you get the chance to pick the ideal spot to set up your home away from home.)
3. Bring your own shade.
You’re going to want some sort of shade to keep you cool while waiting for the race. Canopies and pop-up tents are easy to assemble and can shield you from sun or rain. Of course, you’ll want to bring some folding chairs and maybe even a lightweight table to make it a little more comfy. (Be sure to stake down your canopy or tent in case it gets windy.)
4. Need power? Bring your own!
Whether it’s to power your blender or you want to go all out with satellite TV and an electric grill, it’s important to plan ahead and know where you’re getting your power. If you want to start small, invest in a simple portable car battery charger. Those who are frequent tailgaters often invest in small gas or solar generators to power their portable party.
5. Think of the little things.
There’s no convenience store out there, so rather than getting stuck borrowing from those around you, stock up on those essential “little things,” including:
- Tableware (spoons, forks, knives, etc.)
- Paper towels
- Hand sanitizer
- Insect repellant
- Toilet paper
- Duct tape
- Garbage bags
And while you’re waiting for race time to roll around, breaking out some games is a great way to pass the time and meet your “neighbors.” Bring some fun outdoor games like horseshoes, cornhole, Frisbee or ring toss.
Of course, the tailgating doesn’t have to end when the race does. Why sit in traffic when you can enjoy more time with your newfound friends? Turn up some tunes and fire up the grill – and enjoy yourself while traffic clears.