Beginners Guide to the Coke Zero 400

We’ve finally made it to the 4th of July! Happy birthday America! And three day weekend! Why hasn’t someone handed me a hotdog yet? Besides fireworks and watching Joey Chestnut eat an insane amount of hot dogs, this weekend also has the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. What’s more American than NASCAR at Daytona on 4th of July weekend? Maybe this picture of George Washington dunking on Kim Jong Eun but that’s about it.

If you are new to NASCAR and were trying to pick a great track to visit for your first race odds are you’d choose Daytona.  It’s the most famous track and has the most prestigious race, the Daytona 500, but maybe you wanted a little less fan fare around your first NASCAR race yet still get the history. That is exactly what you’ll get at the Coke Zero 400 this weekend. So far you’ve made a great race choice for your first one but the thought of going to your first NASCAR race can be a daunting one. Luckily I’m here to help. There’s a lot going on at race weekend and you’re going to want to take advantage of as much as possible with as few hiccups as possible. When it comes to large events like these I tend to overthink most scenarios so you can trust that I’ve worked through most situations.

Take NASCAR up on their offer to tour the garages. (Photo: Patrick Smith)
Take NASCAR up on their offer to tour the garages. (Photo: Patrick Smith)

First and most important is to wear comfortable shoes. It always surprises me how massive these venues are. Having to walk around the grounds from where you park and tailgate to the Sprint FANZONE to your seats is going to require a lot of steps. Comfort is definitely going to beat out any need for fashion this weekend. Crocs maybe?

If you are the type who would like to cut out most of that walking, just park close to the track. Easier said than done, so if you are targeting prime tailgating real estate you better plan to get there early. No matter how dedicated of a fan you are, you still have hundreds of counterparts who plan on getting that same great tailgating space. The earlier you can get there, the less walking you’ll have to do to get to the track. And that means more tailgating time! Let’s cook something else, preferably wrapped in bacon!

If you really want to take your tailgating to another level consider camping at the race track. You can cut out the worry of traffic getting there on Saturday morning and you’ve got a much longer time to prep and set up your tailgating area. You’ll also be in a mobile community of like minded NASCAR fans which will make the experience even better.

Once you’ve had your fill of bacon and other grilled meats, I would definitely suggested checking out the Sprint FANZONE. There are going to be tons of pre-race events including a concert by country music artist Lee Brice, driver appearances and introductions, auto graph sessions and even guided tour of the garage areas. There’s more to a race weekend than the 400 laps and NASCAR has done a great job of giving their fans access to more than just seats. If they’re letting you go see the garages you should probably take them up on their offer. It would almost be rude not to.

The final tip I have for you is to bring your own cooler into the race. Yes, you heard me correctly: they will let you bring in your own drink of choice as long as it all fits into a cooler no bigger than 14x14x14 inches. And don’t be too worried about that size of cooler, that size supposedly holds between 24-36 cans. Having gone to dozens of NFL and MLB games where they take away any form of liquid, this blew my mind when I heard it. At Yankee stadium a beer can cost as much as $12, and if my friends and I were to have 24 of them it would cost $288! Besides having your preferred drink of choice, you’re going to save huge amounts of cash not buying beer or soda. A cooler is a must.

Well, It’s the 4th of July weekend and you’ve made the great choice to spend it watching the Coke Zero 400. I’ve given you all the tips I’ve got and you should now be well prepared to get the most out of your first NASCAR race. Remember, don’t forget the cooler.