Straight from the vast tailgate grounds at Dover International Speedway, a list of must-haves at any NASCAR party.
Twice a year the open fields surrounding Dover International Speedway fill with tents, campers and RVs; a temporary city of NASCAR fans who some say have more fun socializing in their sun-baked settlement than they do at the race itself.
But for a days-long party like this tailgating marathon, the wise come prepared.
1. Games. To break up the monotony of those long afternoons in the field there exist a whole host of competitive contests. Popular games include ladder golf, horseshoes and cornholin’. Most involve two teams who toss some object back and forth at a target to earn points.
2. Satellite TV. Roughing it in the sprawling Dover tailgating grounds doesn’t have to mean losing touch with the outside world. Don Hilts of Malone, N.Y., said he never heads to the race without his satellite dish, which he mounts on a plywood base and carefully points to the southwest. “We call it the speedvision,” he said. “We can watch the races, the qualifying, just keep up with what’s going on around the track.”
3. Homemade bar. Brian Davis from Rockport, N.Y., built his custom Dale Earnhardt Jr. bar in only 15 minutes, but it does the job. “You gotta have room to drink, right?” he said. The bar also serves as a gathering place for fellow tailgaters who will often stop for a chat. “It’s a focal point,” Davis added. “It brings in your neighbors.”
4. Scooters. Whether it’s electric or gas, a mock Harley or a trail rider, the seasoned tailgater is sure to have a runabout on hand to traverse the fields. Andy Groft of Hanover, Pa., said his scooter is great for checking out the rest of the campsite or heading to the store, and the small package harness on the back is just big enough to accommodate a case of beer.
5. Beer. Something about a nice glass of Pinot Noir at the speedway just doesn’t sound right, that’s why the universal, unequivocal drink of choice for a NASCAR tailgate is beer. Generally from one of the big three American brewers, good tailgate beer is served best in a can, wrapped in some type of insulated foam apparatus bearing the name and number of your favorite driver. What’s the best beer to drink during race weekend? For Leonard “Beerman” Nash of Whitehouse Station, N.J., the answer is simple: “Cold.”
Email Doug Denison at firstname.lastname@example.org