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It speaks volumes about the popularity of NASCAR that, in the sporting spectrum, it is second only to the much-loved NFL when it comes to US TV ratings. A quintessentially all-American sport, millions tune in and thousands turn out week after week to witness their heroes in action, the action playing out at some 30 different tracks the length and breadth of the country. This adrenaline-fuelled, heart-pounding spectacle has never really taken off to any great extent outside of the States, but as with so many sports, to witness it up close is the only way to fully understand its finer points.
The schedule for the 2014 NASCAR series has been announced, and as ever it promises to be an action-packed season. From February through to September, the best of the best will compete for the National Series title and that of the coveted Chase for the Sprint Cup; it goes without saying, then, that you should choose your races wisely.
Top five NASCAR events
NASCAR 2014: Daytona Beach
As any avid NASCAR enthusiast will tell you, Daytona Beach is the undisputed home of the sport. Not only is this where you’ll find the main headquarters, but the Daytona Speedway hosts, each year, the Series’ most prestigious event in the form of the Daytona 500. That particular race occurs on the 23 February, but despite the winter setting, you can still incorporate the event as part of a sun-kissed Florida holiday, sprawling out on the eponymous beach whilst reflecting on the day’s drama.
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NASCAR 2014: Indianapolis
Another name synonymous with NASCAR is the Indiana city of Indianapolis. The nationally revered motor speedway is the host track for two events throughout the calendar, namely May’s Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 in July – but you can easily make a holiday of your stay here. White River State Park is an incredibly comprehensive attraction, featuring a zoo and the superb Indiana State Museum. For an unsettling but fascinating experience, why not check out the Medical History Museum, perking yourself up afterwards with some flavoured popcorn from the brilliantly quirky Just Pop In shop?
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NASCAR 2014: Las Vegas
If you can only make it to one NASCAR event this year, it may as well be the one that’s held in the playground setting of Sin City. The Kobalt Tools 400 takes place at the city’s Speedway on March 9, and as sure as the sky is blue, those visiting from elsewhere will be looking to paint the town red afterwards. You know the drill: casino hopping down the Strip; revelling in the unashamedly tacky yet phenomenal splendours of the Luxor and Camelot... Just swerve exchanging foredoomed nuptials with a stranger at the Little White Chapel church after one too many!
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NASCAR 2014: Phoenix
If you’re thinking of the bigger picture when planning your NASCAR adventure this year, you could certainly do a lot worse than choosing a Phoenix event. Its geographical location within Arizona makes it perfect for exploring the likes of the Grand Canyon and the stunning Joshua Tree National Park, as well as the city’s own treasures: Desert Botanical Garden and Heard Museum. The dyad of Phoenix races occur in March and November, but you should still prepare yourself well for the blistering desert heat.
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NASCAR 2014: Kansas
Dorothy tried desperately to get back to her Kansas homeland, perhaps for fear of missing one of the races that form part of the NASCAR calendar. Unless you happen to own a pair of magic ruby slippers, you’ll have to settle for more conventional methods of travel, but nonetheless the Hollywood Casino 400 in October should make it all worthwhile. The city itself has kept itself relatively well hidden from tourists, but a visit to the surreal and vibrant City Market, or the Crossroads Art District, is sure to keep you amused post race.
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Main Image © The U.S. Army
Indianapolis © bnpositive
Phoenix © dubbelp
Kansas © Pam Broviak
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