The new NASCAR Hall of Fame is 150,000 square feet of history and accomplishment in one structure. Host to interactive displays and artifacts from the homes and hearts of the legends and their families, the site is a walk through NASCAR's history. Some of the items housed here will be swapped out from time to time, keeping the Hall fresh in what it can offer fans. So what should you check out? In addition to the initial Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which will be broadcast on SPEED (coverage begins at noon ET Sunday), Rea White looks at 10 must see items when making a visit to the Charlotte attraction.
The Heritage Speedway takes fans through the years and offers not only stunning exhibits and glimpses of the past, but how the sport melded into the present. Among the highlights in the area are cast figures of those who made NASCAR what it is today. Fans can literally sit with Bill France Jr. and take a trip through history into NASCAR's present, a reminder of what the sport has been through and what it has accomplished.
Here's a look at what inspectors see every week, and how they check the cars. The inspection bay is recreated and fans can test their knowledge on parts and pieces and see what will fit and what will not. There's also an array of parts that failed to meet NASCAR specifications. The most intriguing part isn’t seeing the parts themselves, but rather the explanations that go along with them of not only why they fell outside NASCAR parameters, but an explanation of what advantage could be gained by such an infraction. It adds insight into those weekly penalty announcements.
Built by 2010 inductee Junior Johnson himself, the still represents an older era of NASCAR - and a piece of history the sanctioning body has come to embrace in recent years. The still is featured in the Pre-NASCAR Theater area which highlights the automobile’s history even before NASCAR.
Pay special attention to the engine area here. This is an interactive, hands-on area outlining what goes into getting a car ready for race week. Key highlights include an engine that can be fired up – with headsets to wear while it revs to get the full impact of the power and a spring compression rate comparison in which one can try to depress a 150-lb. and 500-lb. spring.
Greatest finishes videos
A special theater is set up featuring Ricky Craven’s 2003 Pontiac that he drove to the win at Darlington Raceway in NASCAR’s closest finish since the advent of modern-era timing and scoring. Craven beat Kurt Busch by .002 second in that race. Other top finishes are continually shown on a screen in the display.
This features software which Dale Earnhardt Jr. was instrumental in developing to ensure authenticity. The cars were developed by two-time champion Terry Labonte. Participants can get behind the wheel of an actual car, start the engine, shift the gears and maneuver on the track. This exhibit does require an additional fee.
Pit road simulators
Test your skills and see what crew members go through on a weekly basis. The simulators allow one to take the lugs off a tire, to jack a car, to try the various aspects of each crew member’s job. Fans are timed, so it’s easy to see just how long and how much effort goes into each step of a stop.
Hall of Honor
This is where the true heroes of NASCAR, those who built the sport and gained outstanding levels of success in it will be enshrined. When the induction ceremony is held May 23, the first class of five will be represented alone in this hallowed area. In years to come, they will be moved from the center of the circular area while the latest inductees earn a year of highlight treatment. For fans new and old, this will be a must-see area.
First, there’s Red Byron’s car that won the first NASCAR race sitting on the flat end of the road that escalates in banking. It ends with Jimmie Johnson’s championship-winning Chevrolet. In between are historic cars including those of Richard Petty, Herb Thomas, Lee Petty and Richie Evans. The banking matches that seen at tracks throughout the circuit; placards explain not only the performance of a particular car but also its specifications. Tracks are defined as well as one reaches the appropriate banking, some with actual pieces of asphalt from the track for fans to feel.
NASCAR Hall of Fame/NASCARHall.com
The entire area is worthy of hours of observation, but pay particular attention to the families highlighted in the area. Cases with artifacts from them will change over time. There’s also cast figures of the men who helped build the sport and an area paying homage to those who have passed on. The exhibits will change over time and will continue to represent some of the families and racers that have made NASCAR what it is today.