The die-hard fans—and most NASCAR supporters live and breathe the sport—make the pilgrimage to the track from across the country in RVs stocked with enough food to cater a wedding and enough booze to bring a bachelor party to its knees. Most of the weekend is spent on the grounds surrounding the speedway in makeshift trailer parks, where families and friends, many of whom met at previous races, have cookouts, play cornhole, watch college football and NFL games on flat screens, and take bets on the looming race. It’s like a football tailgate drained of any frat-boy aggression, and stretched out over a lazy weekend.
Rodney Renner, a lifelong NASCAR fan, used this RV culture as a lynchpin for Smokin’ at the Track, a traveling barbecue class that teaches racing fans how to become pitmasters. To Renner, the campgrounds around a speedway are integral to what separates NASCAR from other sports. “Go out into the campgrounds and look at the setups, which sometimes take a day or two to assemble,” he says, while breaking down his own elaborate setup outside of Homestead. “The passion put behind that translates into the same passion they have for their driver or brands they support. This is probably the most passionate sport you will find on the planet, from the drivers to the fans. You don’t mess around calling out a Chevy driver or a Ford fan. Nothing will ever sway them. Same with telling a Coke fanatic that they should try Pepsi. Not going to happen.”