Culture + Style

Chase the Need for Speed at Charlotte, NC’s Race Tracks and Theme Parks

Zooming around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo: Courtesy of Charlotte Motor Speedway)

Don’t be surprised if life seems to move faster in Charlotte, NC. Known to many as the “Mecca of Motorsports,” the state’s unassuming capital of commerce is also the birthplace of NASCAR and home to a world-renowned motor speedway. High velocity fans can also visit nearby Carowinds theme park. Here they’ll find more than a dozen high-speed thrill rides, including one of the world’s fastest roller coasters.

Crank Up the Pace at Carowinds Amusement Park

Drive a short distance outside the city of Charlotte to find Carowinds amusement park, which straddles the North and South Carolina state line. Warm up for the 400-acre theme park’s high-speed thrill rides by getting wet and wild at Carolina Harbor Waterpark. You’ll splash through a six-story water slide complex featuring the Pirate’s Plank’s nearly vertical free fall and Cannonball Drop’s four intense 360-degree turns.

Carowinds Amusement PArk
Get wet and wild at Carowinds’ Carolina Harbor Waterpark. (Photo: Courtesy of Carowinds)

Of course, you’ve really come to Carowinds for the thrill rides. After cooling off at the waterpark, steel your nerves and ride 13 high-speed roller coasters, including two of the tallest in North America.

Start with the park’s newest attraction, the Fury 365. The coaster reaches heights of 325 feet and speeds up to 95 miles per hour. Next, test your tummy’s strength on the Intimidator. Inspired by Dale Earnhardt, it reaches speeds of 74 mph and is one of the tallest, fastest and longest coasters in the southeastern United States. If you’re still feeling brave, don’t miss the Vortex, a stand-up coaster with a series of loops and dramatic drops.

Put the Pedal to the Metal at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Home to prestigious racing events such as the Bank of America 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway provides visitors with high-speed action. The track’s regular Friday and Saturday night races often kick off with celebrity appearances by racing stars, as well as by musicians, top-tier athletes, and pop culture icons.

Charlotte Motor Speedway
Fans gear up for the races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo: Courtesy of Charlotte Motor Speedway)

For a more hands-on experience at the Speedway, crank things up a notch by driving a car on the track. The Richard Petty Driving Experience lets you get behind the wheel for a zoom around eight, 18 or 30 laps. If you’re feeling slightly less brave, opt to be a passenger. Speed demons also have the opportunity to play the role of NASCAR driver at the Dale Jarrett racing adventure and a Mario Andretti racing experience.