By: FOX News Radio Senior National Correspondent Rich Johnson, who was at the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
I'm still not sure how it happened, but about four years ago, I suddenly became a NASCAR fan. And I've been trying to catch up on my NASCAR knowledge ever since.
That means learning not just about the race, the drivers, the teams and the history. It means diving head-first into the weekend NASCAR experience.
And, as I found during five years covering Presidents traveling around the world, the path to instant cultural immersion is via the local food!
First, back to the track. There are well-off teams.
And there are not-so-well-off teams.
So it is with race day food. There is the full-service joint...
And there is the specialty spot...
This one below is the best example of serious southern race food.
The owner of this beauty told me you can't come to a race in the South without a fried bologna sandwich, with onions, peppers and a bit of mustard and ketchup.
The signature side dish is actually something I've seen in some serious up-scale restaurants; sweet potato fries.
Since the sweet potato lives up to its name with a high natural sugar content, these folks are kicking it up a notch with a sprinkling of a sugar-cinnamon combination. Low country cuisine meets high-end dining!
And then, there is the alcohol. The Rum Runner and Margarita blenders were busy, and there was plenty of beer on ice. But, in my eternal quest to sample local indigenous, uh, cuisine, I found Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine.
I tried to get video of this bit of research. But I goofed by asking a woman who'd already been, uh, sampling, for a while to take the video with my iphone.
I was able to record the audio of my White Lighting experience, and it went a little something like this:
So, my advice: Enjoy the food and drink well before the race, sober up as the cars turn the laps, then grab your favorite caffeinated soft drink for the long wait to get out of the parking lot you're sharing with 130,000 other NASCAR fans!