A NASCAR Fan’s Guide to Pocono Raceway

If you decide to attend a race at Pocono Raceway, here is some information to make the most of your trip. From my experience so far, Pocono is the best race track to visit for autographs and a great infield experience. Here’s what you need to know.

Tickets

This was our view of the race from the Sky Box.

Check out the packages! The biggest bang for your buck is the Sky Box option. It not only has seats in a Sky Box suite for three days but also includes your Pit/Paddock passes, pre-race activities access, a VIP parking pass, and free food and drink for all three days. The Sky Box is also in the same hallway as the broadcasting booth and several sponsors. While there we saw Richard Petty, Daniel Suarez, Darrell Waltrip, Larry Mac, Jeff Gordon, and a few famous sportscasters. Of course there is no guarantee that you will see who you want and there are workers to keep the mobs off, but they use the same elevator as you and you can see when they leave the broadcast booth and other suites by looking through the glass windows. If you don’t have three days or don’t want to spend that much, there are plenty of other packages and add-on options that will work for you. The key is you need a Pit/Paddock pass for a good chance at autographs and driver sightings.

Pit/Paddock Pass

Martin Truex Jr. signing autographs at the Media Center. img_20180601_171230176_hdr

This pass is the best infield/pit pass I have ever purchased. The area is located in front of the Cup garages on the pit road side. They have a designated location for autographs deemed Autograph Alley that the drivers will make a point to go down it when they have extra time.  It is located between pit road and the garage so after qualifying as the drivers are walking back is the best time to be there. With this pass you also have access to the Media Center. You can go online and find a schedule of when drivers will be at there. You probably want to arrive about 30 minutes ahead of time to get a good spot along the barrier. Friday and Saturday are the best days to catch A-list drivers for the Sunday race. Also in the Pit/Paddock area is a great cafe that serves breakfast and lunch. The restrooms are right beside the cafe and are very clean for a race track. There was even an attendant. Last but not least, on Sunday they put up barriers and open a gate behind Victory Lane straight from the garage to the back of the stage for driver intros and all you need is this pass to stand there and get autographs and pics as drivers come in. We got there about an hour early to get a good spot. I got more autographs in three days here than I have in all of the 10 years that I have been attending races.

Hotels

You will want to book about 5-6 months in advance to get the best rates and rooms. There are several suggestions on the website and of course Google can help. We stayed at the Split Rock Resort which was so-so. It was definitely older but had many things for the kids to do while not at the track. We picked it because the price was reasonable and it was 15 min from the track even with race day traffic. If you choose this hotel, use the east exit from the resort through Lake Harmony and hit highway 903 to get to the track. The front desk was not helpful with this, but Google Maps was. This route was the fastest all three days and goes by several restaurants and cafes.

Extras

Elliot Sadler's crewman working on his car in the Xfinity garage.

I could not believe the extra opportunities that Pocono Raceway offered after I ordered my tickets and signed up to receive their emails. The first was an opportunity to have a selfie session with Alex Bowman. All I had to do is be one of the first 20 to email back. We got a selfie with up to 4 people and a chance to meet Alex Bowman. Another email told us how to get a free Xfinity garage tour by just standing in line for an armband. There were other offers like question and answer sessions with drivers. You just had to be willing to stand in line for an hour on Friday or Saturday. They told you where to go and what time it was starting. No tricks just a limited number of armbands. You can pick and choose which opportunities you want to take advantage of. I will warn you that the Xfinity garage tour required walking all the way around the back of both sets of garages and parking lots to get to the entrance.

Cup cars going through inspection at Pocono Raceway.

I hope this helps anyone wanting to attend the races at Pocono. After attending the June 1-3 weekend, I’m tempted to switch my annual Talladega race to Pocono. It definitely has a lot more to offer for about the same price.

 

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