Welcome in to Simple Joys at Chief 187 Chatter. This week is like a part two of last week’s vacation entry. Our trip was split into two destinations: South Carolina with my in-laws and Charlotte, North Carolina for our love of NASCAR. This Simple Joys will deal with the amazing time we spent in Charlotte. If you have never been to the Queen City, make plans now. Whether you are a NASCAR fan or a fan of good living, Charlotte is the city to be.
Rowdy. One of the bonuses of traveling to Charlotte is the knowledge that Rowdy Headquarters is now located there. Rowdy is the place where my writing career was resurrected. It is also the best NASCAR podcast in the business. We made a pilgrimage to Rowdy Headquarters in 2009 after the Martinsville Spring race when it was in Charlottesville, Virginia. We felt it necessary to christen their new home with our presence. So, Team 187 made Rowdy Headquarters their first stop in Charlotte. The studio was stageo-of-the-art, a complete step up from where they started. We met new faces, saw our old friend Leonard “Bass” Masters, and had the whole family in the outtro part of the podcast for Friday, April 29th. If you are so inclined, check it out on iTunes! Coming to Rowdy Headquarters always provides a fine feeling of Simple Joy.
Hotel pool. Upon checking into the hotel we threw all of us into the hotel pool. Indoor, warm, and a perfect place to blow off steam, we had a blast! The swim lessons we’ve been paying for for an eternity have paid off in spades. Our children all swim well and enjoy the water. It is a life-saving Simple Joy that I will never regret spending the money.
Bernadeth, hotel front desk. Our first night in Charlotte was a Thursday, the night I do “The Final Round Show” for http://Eventlevel.com. I was in need of a quiet space to do the two-hour plus program and we had only secured one room for our family of five. I explained my needs to Bernadeth and she thankfully offered up a board room in the hotel. A long wooden desk surrounded by ten lush tall-back office chairs awaited me. A kind hotel maintenance man offered me water, which I gratefully accepted. He returned with a full pitcher of the tastiest, most refreshing ice water that had ever passed my lips. I was alone, comfortable, with my needs met, and able to give undivided attention to the job at hand. Pure bliss! Thank you Bernadeth! Later the next day Bernadeth and I found ourselves sharing story after story resulting in a fast friendship. Sending love to my new friend! Making wonderful new friends is always a Simple Joy.
NASCAR Hall of Fame. This topic warrants its own article, but I didn’t want to leave it out of this week’s Simple Joys. We went as a family to the NASCAR Hall of Fame at opening (10am) thinking we’d be gone by lunchtime and needing to make an itinerary of “other things to do in Charlotte”. We met our dear friend Jules(loyal Chief 187 Chatter reader and commenter) and her enormously tall and sweet son Daniel at the beginning of our tour. We talked, toured, cried, laughed, gawked, and interacted all the way through the museum. Aesthetically beautiful, interesting, gripping, poignant, relevant, and historical, I recommend it to NASCAR lovers and historians alike. And whether you rooted for Lee Petty and think of Bill France Jr. as a kid, or your first experience with NASCAR was watching Trevor Bayne look for Victory Lane at the end of the Daytona 500 this year, there is something for everyone. It is a crime against humanity if you don’t put this landmark on your “to-do” list. And not the one titled “Bucket List”, but he one that needs to be done within the next calendar year! Don’t wait, do it NOW. And be sure to say hi to Barry; tell him Chief 187 sends her love.
Hospitality. There isn’t anything like the South. As a New Jersey girl, I’m used to my state being the “butt” of many jokes and enduring the endless critiques of our collective attitudes and tempo. I’m usually impervious and at times have stuck up for my fellow New Jerseyites. I am one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and I was born and raised in New Jersey. My New Jersey friends are all awesome and I meet nice strangers daily in New Jersey. The kindness, sweetness, and genuine hospitality I experienced in Charlotte just oozes easily out of everyone we met. I’m sold, Charlotte. You had me at “Hello y’all”.
Race shops. Charlotte houses several race shops and most are open to the public to tour, look around, and, of course, shop in for team gear. We went to JGR first (Joe Gibbs Racing). Stunningly beautiful, well-manicured on the outside and immaculate on the inside, we were greeted with more gracious Southern hospitality, saw numerous trophies, racecars, the cleanest garage I have ever seen, and the organized and meticulous way the JGR teams are obviously run to bring them the overwhelming success that is undeniable. We saw championship rings, both NASCAR Cup rings and track ones, but also Washington Redskins Super Bowl Championship Rings. Fascinating for this woman who adores jewelry! We also went to Hendrick’s team store (his shops were closed the day we went) and were tickled to see so many racecars, trophies, and pictures scattered about the store. Michael Waltrip Racing, unfortunately, was also closed the day we were there, which was a shame as he is my husband’s favorite driver. We already promised one another that when (not if) we return to Charlotte, MWR and Dale Earnhardt Incorporated would be on our list of what to see.
Charlotte Motor Speedway. In an effort to spruce up before the big happenings at the track in a few weeks, CMS was having a facelift. Repainting, resealing, cleaning, etc. was happening all around us. We opted out of a forty-five minute paid tour because we were facing a ten-hour drive home that day, but we did get to see the track. A Richard Petty Experience class was taking place so we even got to see stock cars going around. We added this track for a must-see in the next 2-5 years!
Our trip to Charlotte ended far too quickly. We could have spent at least a week there if not more and cannot wait to get back. As always, I look forward to reading your Simple Joys for the week!