12 Must-See Car Races Across the Country This Summer
If summer conjures images not of sand, salt, and surf but of roaring engines, wild wrecks, and human collages of corporate brand logos, you must be a race fan. If so, your wait is over — race season is here. From beach races to NASCAR Cup Series events, these are the summer races that come with scrapbook-worthy ticket stubs.
The Michigan International Speedway is the fastest track in all of NASCAR, and this summer it's hosting two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events, one in August and one in June. The June festival includes the FireKeepers Casino 400, the Corrigan Oil 200, and a NASCAR XFinity Series race. Tickets start at just $35, and kids under 12 get in free.
The Texas Motor Speedway hosts this tire-to-tire Indycar Series race, which will roar past at speeds reaching a blur-inducing 220 mph. The venue knows how to host a race, and the ticket prices are part of the draw. You can score two seats plus $10 in Speedway Bucks starting at $49.
This celebration of everything from motorcycles to antique cars takes place all weekend long, but the annual ritual known as the Race of Gentlemen roars to life on Saturday, and the evening closes out with a massive beach bonfire. Motorcycles and hot rodders test the boundaries of their machines, which reach breakneck speeds on the beaches of Wildwood, N.J., as raucous crowds party and cheer them on.
One of the greatest things about the classic Bojangles Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the number of chances you have to see it. Ten rounds span most of June and July, and if you score tickets — which cost just $8 for adults; kids are free — you'll witness races you won't see anywhere else. School bus races, mascot races, and pictures with famous drivers are all part of the action.
Head to the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational and feast your eyes on the world's most pristine historic race cars. Rare classics duke it out on both of Indy's world-famous tracks: the 2.5-mile oval and the 2.439-mile road course. The big race is on Sunday, but the entire weekend is packed with events race fans won't want to miss.
Some 35 years after its inception in 1983, the Great Race remains arguably the grandest auto event in America in terms of sheer scale. Antique, vintage, and classic cars start in Buffalo, N.Y., and finish in Nova Scotia, Canada, so you can't watch this international event like a NASCAR race. But if you plan a trip to any one of the unique race's stopping and starting points along the way, you'll get a pit mechanic's view of some of the world's choicest automobiles battling for supremacy.
As race fans know, the NASCAR XFinity Series showcases the stars of tomorrow. On June 30, NASCAR's most promising young talent races head to head against some of its most accomplished stars. Head to the Overton's 300 at Chicagoland Speedway to see up-and-comers make names for themselves against the reigning racing giants.
The legendary Daytona 500 is in February, but Daytona International Speedway — billed as "the world's only motorsports stadium" — hosts a summer event that race fans also won't want to miss. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 is a three-wide battle that extends the patriotic fervor and fan enthusiasm surrounding Independence Day, giving the race the feel of a holiday event.
The NCWTS Eldora Dirt Derby in Ohio is among the most spectacular events in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Come a day early, on July 17, to catch the DIRTcar modifieds and stocks, as well as NASCAR-truck practice sessions. Either way, you're in for a truck-bumping, tire-spinning, mud-splattered good time.
The National Hot Rod Association holds the Northwest Nationals at the famed Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington. A series of qualifying races dominate the Friday and Saturday schedules. On Sunday, fans are treated to nearly a dozen elimination rounds and the finals for the Nitro, Top Fuel Harley, Top Alcohol, and Pro Stock categories.
Tennessee's Bristol Motor Speedway, the iconic NASCAR short track dubed "The Last Great Colosseum," hosts the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, a thrilling after-dark spectacle that Bristol claims is the most popular in NASCAR. Tickets start at $70 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under.
With just a few days left before the first day of fall, the summer racing season winds down in the mountains of Sonoma, California, where the Sonoma Raceway again plays host to the Verizon Indycar Series championship. The Grand Prix of Sonoma is the biggest in a weekend packed with great races, including the Porsche GT3 Cup Series.
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