CONCORD, N.C. -- Race fans took all day to get to the Sprint All Star Race, but it looked like they all wanted to leave at once.
While traffic never backed up on the roads into Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday – with the exception of one small wreck on I-85 – it quickly got congested after the race.
Morehead Street, Bruton Smith Blvd, and U.S. 29 were all crowded with traffic cones, state troopers, cars, and pedestrians – thousands of them.
Cars also backed up on U.S. 29 south of the speedway at Pavillion Blvd. because of a concert that let out about the same time as the race. State troopers directed cars from the two busy roads on to I-485 just a short distance away.
“If folks will just pack some patience -- and hopefully they’ll have a full tank of gas -- they’ll be able to get through no problem,” said NCDOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson.
DOT workers watched traffic flow in a room full of monitors from traffic cameras near the track. Thompson said they have the ability to change traffic direction signs remotely, but after the race traffic on all roads would lead away from the track.
Some race fans found other ways to beat the wait.
Tim Truesdale and his son Thomas decided they’d rather walk then get stuck in traffic. They parked about a half-mile away from the speedway on Bruton Smith Blvd.
“It’s better to park way back there, because up close you’re gonna have trouble getting out,” said Thomas. “Good cardio!” he added.
Ryan Goodwin and Bridget Adams parked badly at the October race and it took them two hours to get out of their parking lot.
“I read a magazine and he drove,” said Adams. They parked closer to the interstate and the parking lot’s entrance this time.
Pedicab driver Ben King spent Saturday carting race fans like these up to the speedway. King drove up from Gainesville, Florida, for race week to earn the extra income; it’s how he paid his way through college at the University of Florida.
A slow, steady flow of fans who park far from the speedway are good for business. However, he knows they would all want rides back at the same time.
“There’s gonna be so many people, it’s gonna be hard to come back down the hill with all the traffic,” said King. “People pouring out of the place at once.”
At least, said King, the ride back is all downhill.