This state-of-the-art facility, holding 167,000 fans, is considered the heart of NASCAR. An estimated 90% of driving teams live within 50 mi. Hosting more than 350 events each year, this is one of the busiest sports venues in the United States. Racing season runs April to November, and tours are offered on non-race days. The Speedway Club, an upscale restaurant, is on the premises. When there's a race, the population of Concord can jump from 60,000 to more than 250,000. Make sure you book your hotel well in advance.
Richard Petty Driving Experience. If you want to indulge your inner racecar driver, take lessons through the Richard Petty Driving Experience. You can drive a NASCAR-style stock car at speeds up to 140 mph around Charlotte Motor Speedway. If you want the thrill of the ride without being in the driver's seat, you can ride with an instructor and go up to 165 mph. Classes are available throughout the year, though only when there's no event at the speedway. Prices vary, but start at $449 for eight laps around the track. You must have a valid driver's license and be able to drive a manual (stick shift) transmission car to drive, and you'll need to reserve ahead of time. Charlotte. 704/455–9443. www.1800bepetty.com.