Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday - Daytona 500 Edition

The time is now race fans! The wait is over and soon the forty-three cars will take the newly resurfaced track at Daytona to officially start the 2011 Sprint Cup Season! Historic, iconic, and emotional, Daytona is commonly referred to as the Super Bowl of NASCAR, but I don't think that is accurate or appropriate. The Daytona 500 predates Super Bowl, and, for that reason alone, the comparison is ludicrous. Also, the Daytona 500, as all race fans know, is a hugely popular and important race, but no more so than Talladega, Watkins Glen, Bristol, Texas, or California. In NASCAR Sprint Cup, each of these races, and all of the other on the schedule that are points races, all count the same. The pageantry is more evident at the Daytona 500, and we race fans adore that the offseason is over and the long season that is NASCAR Sprint Cup is beginning. What can be connected to Super Bowl is food. When watching that event people tend to roll out impressive menus easy to consume in front of the television. The Daytona 500 is just as worthy of a 'game day" affair, but we call it "race day". So I'm offering up ideas for easy, satisfying, and delicious fare to enjoy while watching the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 this Sunday, February 20th.

The first order of business is to have the food ready to serve and easy to access during the entire race. Having to stop watching to "prepare the next course" is not the phrase I want to hear or mutter in my home, so I'm staying clear of intricate recipes, and foods that have to be served piping hot. Convenience, do-ahead, and instant gratification are what the goals are. If you enjoying cooking/prepping foods, make a few submarine sandwiches (grinders,hoagies,heroes) before the race begins as they are portable and one of the foods you are likely to see advertised and thus will, at some point, grave throughout the day. Pick a long roll, slather it with your favorite dressing (Mayo, Miracle Whip, Italian dressing, mustard, etc.), pile on your favorite luncheon meats and cheeses, add lettuce, tomato, onion slices, banana peppers, pickles, et al, and wrap it in waxed paper.. This sandwich is ready when you are.

Next, open a bag of chips. In our house  tortilla chips are King. You may prefer potato chips, but the tortilla chip can also be made into Nachos, so don't underestimate its versatility and appeal. To make the easiest nachos you simply need your favorite tortilla chips, shredded cheese(we prefer extra sharp cheddar in our house, but any melting cheese will do), and salsa. Layer chips, then cheese, then dollops of salsa, and microwave until cheese is melted. This shouldn't take longer than one commercial break. Highly enjoyable and fast if you require sinfully gooey hot food during the race.

Cold beverages of choice is next. Beer is, of course, popular with the NASCAR crowds, but too often too many beers leads to sleeping through the race. If you're hardcore, you don't want to be missing out, so lay off too many beers and switch it up with caffeinated soda. You need to stay sharp so you can identify debris when cautions are thrown, analyze racing incidents, and criticize driving styles. As a NASCAR fan/spectator, this is not only your job, it is your duty. Give yourself extra points if you find yourself saying what the announcers do several seconds BEFORE they do. My husband is a whiz at this and, if points were given out for it, would be the undisputed champion of "premature announcing"!

Lastly, if your taste buds require it, have something sweet for dessert. I highly recommend keeping that heart-shaped box of candy handy to nosh on while the race is on. If you are already done with yours, then pick up your favorite store-bought cookie or candy. This is not the time to try a complicated dessert, so don't, period. For those of you who must bake, make cupcakes up to a day in advance, and then decorate with frosting (icing) and candy numbers of your favorite driver(s).

Racer and Chief187 in Feb. 2009 in our Valentine's Gifts from that year
Dale Earnhardt (our driver) for him Jeff Gordon (my kids' favorite) for me
With these tips, food suggestions, and processes, you should find the Daytona 500 to be the most enjoyable sporting event to watch and dine. While sporting your driver's team swag, watching the race, eating these foods, and Tweeting constantly, I hope you think of me and how I helped you get prepared for the Daytona 500. Enjoy!


  1. All NASCAR races are late start times for me so for the Daytona 500 6pm local start time I'll have a big pan of soup ready ginger. garlic, onions, carrots, leek, red pepper, potato, marmite and South African Boer Wurst prepared in that order the night before so all the flavour can be released into the soup over night. I usually go wild with cheesecake on race nights but this year I'll be making an blueberry and apple crumble using butter oats and walnuts for the crumble topped with natural yoghourt.

    I'm hungry and ready to go racing already looking forward to tonight's Duels with a couple of pitta breads filled with avocado, salami one Spanish, one Milano, cucumber, tomato and topped off with a couple of olives.

    Dang ! is it time for the races yet ?

  2. Art! You are SO fortunate to be in England! You can watch the Duels live! I have to be at work!

  3. I don't cook for Daytona, Talladega, Bristol or Charlotte... the tradition in our house is to head over to Bojangles and order either the Tailgate Special (8 pieces of chicken, 4 biscuits, 2 picnic fixin's and 1/2 gallon iced tea)
    OR the Super Tailgate (12 pieces of chicken, 6 biscuits, 3 picnic fixin's and 1/2 gallon iced tea)
    usually getting an extra 1/2 gallon of their super syrupy sweet tea for me. ;)

  4. I am going to Jules house! I will bring my Mex. Velveeta Queso dip.