It’s the NASCAR All-Star Race weekend, an annual event that tends to throw a wrench in the typical weekend “scene” around the lake. Not only will most hotels sell out to tourists, but also college kids return home for the summer, so expect some crowds at your favorite spots to eat and drink.
Most of the local hotels require a 3-night minimum stay over race weekend, so expect to see good crowds and unfamiliar faces out and about enjoying a little weekend getaway. Birkdale likely will be packed, as will most places at Exit 25, since tourists are drawn to chain restaurants like bugs to a bug zapper.
Many of those folks will also turn out to our local drinkin’ holes for the late-night scene Friday, as NASCAR fans are beer drinkers (how else could you stand watching cars turn left for hours on end?).
Saturday night of race weekend is typically very slow, since the race is at night. It seems that even those who aren’t big NASCAR fans make their way to the Charlotte Speedway during race weekend since it’s “THE place to be.” They will do the majority of their beer drinking / left-turns watching and then head back to their hotels once the race is over. The local places most likely to see crowds Saturday night are the ones within walking distances of hotels.
What does race weekend mean for the Lake? Well, this weekend is the tipping point for the lake, when the college students return in mass and join the tourists on the water. The tourists and college students are typically the ones who don’t know how to throw an anchor, and the weekly raft-ups from this point forward will likely turn to chaos.
As for the Saturday lake party at Beachin’ Island, we expect a good crowd, since locals love to take their NASCAR visitors out to see the floating party. People will get on the lake a little earlier than usual and leave a little earlier than usual as well. I’d expect that on Saturday the boats will start pulling out around 4:30 or 5 p.m. as people head home to clean up and head to the race.
Sunday will be a HUGE day on the water. If there is ever a day you can expect to see NASCAR drivers on the lake it’s Sunday of race weekend. Most of the drivers have boats and enjoy the lake as much as us regular folks, but they have to work on weekends. So, when they have a Sunday off they hit the water.
I should get out there and take pics… and I might, but Sunday is family fun day, so I’ll see if Carrie lets me out to document the Sunday lake festivities or not.
Since the race next weekend is on Sunday, you can expect Saturday, May 26 to be a big day on the water and a HUGE night at the bars and restaurants. I’ll fill you in on where to be in next week’s column.
Nate Davis is a Cornelius resident and web entrepreneur. He owns LKNFun.com