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Official Review by Nick Stoico, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
New Hampshire Motor Speedway (also known as the “Magic Mile”) is a one-mile track located in the central New Hampshire town of Loudon. The track is about 20 minutes from the New Hampshire capital city of Concord and about one hour and twenty minutes from Boston, Massachusetts.
The high-profile Sprint Cup Series passes through Loudon twice each year and NASCAR fans from around New England converge on the small town for the racing weekend. The property of the NHMS runs about two and a half miles along NH Route 106, designating a very large area for RV parking throughout the week and tailgating on race-day. The town suddenly becomes nothing less than a small city when NASCAR comes to New Hampshire as RVs set up camp and trucks and cars fill the lots to full capacity.
Attending NASCAR at NHMS is an experience before you even present your ticket and find your seat at the track. According to the NHMS website, more than 500,000 spectators attend NHMS races during the season. This includes several events and races that take place at the track besides the NASCAR Sprint Cup races. The track itself is located on 1,200 acres and allows for 105,491 spectators.
The track was first opened on June 5, 1990 as New Hampshire International Speedway. In 2008, the chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., purchased the track and renamed the track to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
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Tailgating is by far the preferred choice of eating and drinking at the race. While there are several items offered inside the gates of the track, most prefer to enjoy their food and beverage while sitting by truck or RV and grilling up their meals. But if you find yourself inside the venue and looking for a bite to eat, you do not need to go far. The concourse sits below the stands and is filled with vendors.
The food selection is similar to what you might find on Yawkey Way outside Fenway Park in Boston: Italian sausage, chicken fingers, cheeseburgers, cheese steaks, etc. Nothing unique stands out, but there are plenty of choices to satisfy any race fan's tastes.
The price for any of the items listed previously is from $6-$10. Beverages are also for sale, but just about every fan at NHMS is carrying their own cooler, which is allowed inside the venue. When you enter the gate, coolers and bags are checked. As expected, prices are inflated at NHMS just as they are at any sports venue. For a bottle of water or soda, you are going to spend around $3. I would highly recommend filling your own cooler beforehand and bringing it in. Then you can have all of your drinks sitting between your feet while you watch the race.
The track is surrounded by the green hills and spectators can see the mountains of the northeast from their seats. On the day of the race in July 2013, the Camping World RV Sales 301, the sun was shining bright and the track was heating up. Fans filled the stands, equipped with sunglasses and caps along with ice cold beverages in hand. The race began at 1:00 in the afternoon and no matter where spectators were seated, there was no escaping the hot sun. A few days earlier, the forecast had predicted a slightly cooler day. This is the nature of NASCAR in New England. The weather can change in a matter of minutes and in this case few had been expecting such a warm afternoon.
VIP seating is available for $115 and is placed under the overhang of the race controls / suites box on the Main Grandstand.
The track at NHMS is unique in its own right. The Magic Mile is a tight track, which can often lead to several caution flags and frustrating bumps between drivers; 12 caution flags were waved with some drivers expressing their frustration to media following the race in 2013.
The seating is divided into three grandstands; the Concord Grandstand sits on the south end of the track, the Main Grandstand runs along the west side and provides a clear view of pit road, and finally the Laconia Grandstand on the north end by turns three and four. The seats are all bleacher style, but with seatbacks. Most fans entering the speedway carry a seat cushion, a good idea considering the race often lasts over three hours. In the center of the infield is the scoreboard which provides fans with the television broadcast of the races along with the positions of the drivers.
Since NHMS is a one-mile track, just about every seat in the venue has a good view of the action. The Main Grandstand provides the best view of the track and pit road.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is the main attraction of Loudon and the town plays a good host to the races. If you are looking for a quick bite to eat before the race, besides firing up the grill at tailgating, there are a few scattered food stops in Loudon. Brookside Pizza is right off of the main drag (Route 106) in Loudon and could be just what you are looking for. This and the few other places in town are not too busy as most people prefer to cook their own food in the parking lots.
Besides the speedway, there is not too much more to Loudon, which to some may be just another reason why this town is a good place to host races.
The race fans in attendance at New Hampshire Motor Speedway are as good as any NASCAR fans around the country. Thousands of fans fill the lots, flags of their preferred teams and drivers flying high from the vehicles. Their knowledge of the race is as strong as any fan would know their favorite sport. While most fans come to the race because of their love for the sport, some people do just come out for the festivities that surround a NASCAR event coming to town (such as tailgating and camping out).
NASCAR weekend demands extensive planning from the town to handle the thousands of cars that come bustling in. Four lanes are opened up going into the town on the morning of the race and then is reversed as people leave towards the end of the day. Coming into town, the traffic is slow moving, but leaving the speedway is surprisingly quick once you get out on the road. Still buried in traffic, the cluster moves along very efficiently and you are out of the town within fifteen minutes.
Parking at NHMS is very cost effective. Some of the residents of Loudon offer up their property for parking, but for an often steep price. Parking a car for the day at NHMS is free. It is a long walk to the track from some of the lots, but this is only because the land for camping and parking is so massive. NHMS offers shuttle services to the track from its lots so that is an option if the walk is too far.
Some race goers pay a rather modest price for their tickets. Tickets can be as low as four for $100. Considering the all-day experience of the event in addition to the race, I think the pricing is pretty fair at NHMS.
Attending a NASCAR event is unlike any other sporting event in the sense that it goes far beyond the three hours spent watching the race. Football may be the closest since it is also synonymous with tailgating. When you buy your ticket, it is not just the race you are going to see. Fans will most likely arrive early and grill up lunch and then stay after while the parking lots thin out.
You wouldn't expect to find so many NASCAR fans in New England, yet the fans are knowledgeable and turn out in great numbers year after year. The size of the track and the relative ease in leaving this facility are worth extra points as well.
Member Review by sabresfan3383 on Jun 02, 2016
Went to the Fall 2015 race with my two brothers, one of whom had never attended a race. To give him an idea of the speed of these machines, I decided to get front row seats. Normally not ideal for racetracks, my view just beyond the flagstand was not bad. The shortness of the track helps in that there are not many blind areas.
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