Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is the Great Escape, a venerable NASCAR national park where fans can get away and enjoy the very best in racing and camaraderie. Plan your Michigan International Speedway experience today!
Given that I make my living covering NASCAR, I like to think I have a pretty good understanding of most aspects of the sport.
But the truth is, there's one major part of racing that I know very little about (some would argue there's more than one, but I digress). Though I've been to more than 150 Sprint Cup races and followed the circuit around the country for portions of eight seasons, I've always been missing a key element of the NASCAR experience.
I've never camped at a racetrack.
Camping is a huge part of the NASCAR lifestyle, but aside from driving through the occasional campground or talking to fans about where they're staying, I don't have any understanding of what it's like to stay at a racetrack.
That will change at Michigan in two weeks, when I'll be staying at the Graves Farm Campground for the Heluva Good! 400 weekend.
And to be honest, I have no idea what to expect. At all.
Michigan has nine campgrounds and 9,000 camp sites – making it the largest campground in the state – and I hear the Graves Campground is one of the nicest.
Graves, as I understand it, has walking trails, horseshoes, volleyball courts, fire pits and even movie nights. That doesn't sound too shabby.
And, as it turns out, I'm not exactly going to be roughing it. I'll be staying in a 27-foot RV that already has everything set up.
Michigan offers a turn-key program (through MIScamping.com) where you can reserve an RV that will be placed on site with everything you need – pillows, towels, sheets, etc. – already inside.
Obviously, that's good for a rookie like me. Maybe it'll be like a rustic hotel – without the room service, of course.
My temporary home away from home – a Keystone Hideout – is described on the MIScamping.com site as "a smaller RV but very efficient." It's listed as $1,799 for the week – though all the RV rentals appear to be sold out for the June race (there are still regular campsites available for this race, but if you want a turn-key RV, you'll have to wait until August).
Apparently, I also have an electricity hookup (I still need power to write blog posts during the weekend) and a fridge to store food and drinks.
Important note: If any of my bosses are reading this, all of the drinks in the refrigerator will be water and soda (the rest of you know better).
Anyway, despite those luxuries, I'm still anxious about how it will all turn out. As a first-time NASCAR camper, I have a lot of questions.
• What's the proper etiquette with my camping neighbors? Does everyone wander around and be social, or mostly stick to their own sites?
• What kind of food should I bring? Enough for just me, or is there going to be a party outside my RV every night?
• Is camping at a NASCAR track a relaxing experience or a draining one? Will I get any sleep?
• Am I going to smell like campfires and beer when I walk into the media center every day?
• Will I get destroyed at cornhole?
Any advice from you veteran NASCAR campers would be appreciated. And if you're staying at the Graves Farm Campground, let me know so we can meet up and hang out.
If you have any tips about camping at Michigan – or NASCAR camping in general – feel free to leave some advice in the comments section below.