One of Hendricks County’s biggest events and the biggest event for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) each year is just nine days away. I’m not a huge race fan, but let me tell you, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind., was more than I bargained for when I attended for the first time last year. This year’s event is Aug. 29-Sept. 3, and just by reading this blog post you can get a special discounted ticket by clicking on this link and choosing the day or days you would like to attend. With the help of Scott Smith, senior communications manager for the NHRA, and the expertise of some of my coworkers here at the Hendricks County Convention and Visitors Bureau who have logged their share of hours at the track annually for this event, I have compiled a Top 10 list of insider tips for a trip to Nationals.
  • Give it a try — If you haven’t been to this event before, it should be on your bucket list even if you don’t like racing, and with the special deal we’ve worked out above, there is no better time than now. I was amazed by how it tickles all the senses including smell with nitro fuels wafting through the air and feel as a shockwave of sound and vibration flows over the crowd as these machines go from 0 to 300 mph in seconds! Mac Tools U.S. Nationals  
  • Bring your sharpies — Every ticket to the Mac Tools U. S. Nationals doubles as a pit pass providing unequaled access to the drivers and their teams compared to any other major professional auto racing event. Be sure to buy a special souvenir hat or photo and get autographs from your favorite drivers. Some people even walk away with actual tires and other gear that the race teams no longer need.
  • Smell the Nitro — That access also allows you to see the teams work on these impressive machines between their blasts down the track. The pure excitement on my then 4-year-old’s face when one of the race cars was towed right past him last year was priceless! Be sure to get close to the cars as the teams’ warm up the engines before they run. The smell of the Nitro is one you will never forget!
  • Bring your family — Over the years, this event has become as family friendly as they come. In addition to the unlimited access mentioned above, children also love Nitro Alley on the east side of the drag strip in front of the professional pit area. Nitro Alley includes games, displays, race gear and other interactive experiences that every member of the family will enjoy. General admission and reserved seating ticket prices also are cheaper for children ages 6-12 and free for ages 5 and under. A special promotion also allows a free junior ticket (ages 6-12) for every adult ticket purchased.
  • Pack accordingly — Earplugs are a must for every member of the family. The souvenir shops sell them at the track if you come unprepared. You might even want to bring full ear-muff protection for the youngsters. We brought the kind that play music for my son last year, which worked perfectly. You also will want to wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen, hats and other protection from the sun. Oh and did I mention ear protection?
  • What about coolers? — They are permitted though they can’t be any larger than 14X14X14. But don’t let that preclude you from trying food from vendors at the track. Be sure to check out the ‘Nitro Hog’ and their special style of barbecue cooked in an old Top Fuel dragster.
  • What you can’t bring — Glass bottles of any kind and alcohol are not allowed in the U.S. Nationals.
  • Visit local race shops — It is worth the trip to come a little early to see all the race shops, located within a short drive of the track along Northfield Drive and Southpoint Circle in Brownsburg. One of our bloggers, Elaine, even provided a comprehensive preview of a John Force Racing open house event to be held next week prior to the U.S. Nationals. You can access that post by clicking here.
  • Attend church services — Racers for Christ offers non-denominational church services scheduled for 7:15 and 8 a.m. Sept. 3. This service is free at the track and is usually held in one of the team tents and hosted by the racers. The public is welcome to attend.
  • Come see us — If something you need isn’t answered here, you can always come visit our staff who run guest services for the track during the U.S. Nationals. Guest service booths are located on both the east and west sides of the drag strip. Stop in and say hello and let us know you read this blog post. We may even have a giveaway going on that you can enter to win.