Happy RaceDay, folks! While I'm settling in for 400 miles around the Irish Hills of Michigan, I'm also planning for a quick trip to the track next week. I'm checking my track bag for all the basics.
For the new race fan, you might be wondering what those basics are. If you've received your tickets in the mail, you've probably gotten the Fan Guide that has a long list of what is not allowed. Which leaves the question, what is in all those coolers and backpacks that people bring into a NASCAR track?
I've a few answers, all benefitting from years of experience. Sometimes it's also knowing what you should just leave at home.
· The Backpack: Mine has a net top and a soft-sided six-pack cooler on the bottom. This meets both the 14"x14" size restriction and the see-through bag requirement. I fit everything I need in this one bag for the day. No little red wagon or wheels needed.
1. The Beverages: A six-pack is more than you need. Me? I mix it up between soda, juice and water. You can always refill a water bottle on hot-hot days. But beer works, too :) Remember: Leave the hard stuff at home and NO glass bottles.
2. Snacks: Most tracks permit you to bring in food. Do you really want to spend $10 on a bad burger and fries? Since we have eggs & bacon at the trailer before we head to our seats, I pack a couple bags of chips, some fruit and maybe sandwiches.
3. Hearing Protection: At the very least, a pair or two of ear plugs. But if you're really going to enjoy yourself, a headset and scanner are recommended. You can rent these at the track for about $60 or buy your own for about $200. Remember to have extra batteries in there, too. The scanner will always die in the middle of the race.
4. ID and cash: Leave the pocketbook at home. Keep your ID, credit card, keys and cash in a pocket.
5. Sun protection: Sunscreen and lip balm. Hat and sunglasses. Don't be the idiot who goes home in an ambulance because you started your liquid diet at 9AM, strips down to nothing and passes out from sunstroke. There are no convenient trees for shade at the track. Bring your own.
6. Rain protection: One of those $5 rain ponchos all folded up into a tiny packet. Also, pack another large plastic bag to protect any electronics you're carrying in case of a deluge. Leave the umbrella at home.
7. Sharpie: Of your favorite color! You most likely will see some kind of racing celebrity during the day. They don't always have a marker to hand to sign your t-shirt. Sharpies now come attached to key rings. How convenient!
8. Camera: Many smartphones come equipped with nice little cameras. Great! One less thing to carry. But if you're a shutterbug and you can live without a massive lens/camera combo, there are many slim and small digital cameras out there that can slip into an outer pocket of your backpack. Mine is a SONY Cybershot.
9. Towel and washcloth: A dry towel in the top to either dry off a damp seat or to provide a little insulation from sun heated aluminum. The wet and cold washcloth goes in the bottom with your iceback and will ease your comfort when the sun starts to cook.
10. Medications: If you often need an aspirin or some allergy medication in the middle of the day, tuck a small bottle in your bag.
My track bag lives in a cupboard in the RV year round. I don't take it apart between trips, and that means at a moment's notice, I can just grab and go. It's always reassuring to know I've got all the little things that make a day in the sun comfortable. I just have to remember to recharge the scanner.Always remember to check your local track's bag restrictions for specific rules and regulations.
What's in your bag? Maybe you've got a beach bag with similar items stowed. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below.
I'll be seeing you at the track!