Q&A with NASCAR Drivers | Charlotte’s got a lot | Charlotte NC Travel & Tourism
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Q&A with NASCAR Drivers

Charlotte is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, three of NASCAR’s most popular races and more than 90 percent of racing teams.
Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Let’s meet some of the sport’s most popular drivers and get their take on what to do, see and eat in Charlotte. From the race track to Lake Norman to some of Charlotte’s best shopping destinations, the local kings of NASCAR have ideas to get everyone revved up in the Queen City.

Brad Keselowski | Aric Almirola | Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. | Kasey Kahne | Rusty Wallace | Trevor Bayne

Brad Keselowski

Driver, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion for Penske Racing

About You

  • Where are you originally from? Rochester Hills, Michigan
  • How long have you lived in the Charlotte region? Nine years
  • What are your favorite TV shows? Air Disasters
  • What music artists are you currently in to? I like a lot of music. Lately I’ve been listening to Roy Orbison and Hozier. 
  • What kind of street car are you currently driving? Ford F-150 
  • If you could trade places with anyone for the day, who would it be? The President of the United States
  • What other sports/ activities do you enjoy? I like to play Madden Football and shoot rifles.

About Charlotte

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Aric Almirola

Driver, No. 43 smithfield Ford Fusion for Richard Petty Motorsports

About You

  • Where are you originally from? Tampa, Florida 
  • http://www.richardpettymotorsports.com/ I’ve lived in Charlotte for 12 years.
  • What are your favorite TV shows? I don’t really watch much TV other than cartoons with the kids.
  • What music artists are you currently in to? Corey Smith for easy listening and Pitbull to get pumped up.
  • What kind of street car are you currently driving? Ford F-250 
  • What other sports/activities do you enjoy? Cycling, hiking and anything outdoors related. 
  • If you could trade places with anyone for the day who would it be? If he was still alive, I would pick Steve Jobs. To be able to experience leading a company that had that much vision for the future.

About Charlotte

  • Name your favorite restaurants in Charlotte and any favorite menu items. The shrimp and grits at Epic Chophouse in Mooresville; the meatloaf dinner at Toast in Davidson; the tuna tacos at Soul Gastrolounge in NoDa; the carnitas at La Unica in Huntersville.
  • Name your favorite attractions in Charlotte. NASCAR Hall of Fame, Lake Norman State Park, and Discovery Place
  • What is your favorite racing memory at Charlotte Motor Speedway? Winning the pole for the Coca-Cola 600 in 2012.
  • Who is your favorite Charlotte sports team? Charlotte Knights
  • When you’re not racing, what are some of your favorite things to do in Charlotte? Hang out with my family.
  • Describe what you love about Charlotte. Charlotte is a very clean city. I’ve been to a lot of cities, and a lot of times, they feel run down and dingy. Charlotte isn’t like that. It feels very clean and inviting. It is also very centrally located. I enjoy the fact that in the summer we have a lot of lakes nearby, and in the winter, we are only a two hour drive to the mountains to go snow skiing. I love trying out new and different kinds of restaurants. I really enjoy that Charlotte is becoming more trendy and more of a foodie destination. There are a lot of cool places to go and good restaurants. I’m glad I get to spend time here when I’m not at the racetrack and get to raise my kids in a growing area.

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Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr.

Driver, No. 6 Ford EcoBoost/ Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing

About You

  • Where are you originally from? Born in Mobile, Alabama, and grew up in Concord, North Carolina.
  • How long have you lived in the Charlotte region? 19 years
  • What are your favorite TV shows? Martin 
  • What music are you currently in to? Emo-Screamo
  • What kind of street car are you currently driving? Ford F-150
  • If you could trade places with anyone for the day, who would it be? Jason Sudeikis – he is married to Olivia Wilde!
  • What other sports/activities do you enjoy? Basketball, mountain biking and photography.

About Charlotte

  • Name your favorite restaurants in Charlotte. Red Rocks Café, Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, and Mellow Mushroom
  • Name your favorite attractions in Charlotte. Charlotte Motor Speedway and Time Warner Cable Arena
  • What is your favorite racing memory at Charlotte Motor Speedway? Being the first to win all six races on the fifthmile track behind the big track at age 10.
  • When you’re not racing, what are some of your favorite things to do in Charlotte? Video games and mountain biking.
  • Who is your favorite Charlotte sports team? Carolina Panthers
  • Describe what you love about Charlotte. It's not your typical big city. It's small, enjoyable with plenty of nightlife and restaurants. It has got a great atmosphere.

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Kasey Kahne

Driver, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports

About You

  • Where are you originally from? Enumclaw, Washington 
  • How long have you lived in the Charlotte region? I’ve been in the Charlotte area since February of 2002.
  • What are your favorite TV shows? The Blacklist and Scandal 
  • What music are you currently in to? Kip Moore, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church and Cole Swindell.
  • What kind of street car are you currently driving? I drive a Chevrolet Silverado and Tahoe
  • What other sports/activities do you enjoy? NASCAR Sprint car racing, wake surfing and skiing in the mountains.

About Charlotte

  • Name your favorite restaurants in Charlotte. Cabo Fish Taco and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. At Cabo Fish Taco, I really like the blackened mahi-mahi tacos.
  • Name your favorite attractions in Charlotte. Charlotte Motor Speedway, The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte Knights baseball games
  • What is your favorite racing memory at Charlotte Motor Speedway? Winning the 600-mile race in 2012, which was my first win driving for Hendrick Motorsports.
  • When you’re not racing, what are some of your favorite things to do in Charlotte? Boating on Lake Norman as well as visiting Hendrick Motorsports and Kasey Kahne Racing.
  • Who is your favorite Charlotte sports team? Carolina Panthers
  • Describe what you love about Charlotte. I really love the weather. The summers, the springs and falls are beautiful. We get so much sun and nice weather here. And then we also have a winter still. We get a little bit of snow, we get cold air and weather, which is nice. I also like the country a lot. The mountains are very close, the oceans close and we have great lakes, and there’s tons of things to do at any one of those places. The city of Charlotte is just so clean. It’s not a huge city, but it’s a good size city with a lot to do. I don’t think many states compare to North Carolina so I really enjoy living in this state.

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Rusty Wallace

NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2013

  • When you think of Charlotte, what comes to mind first? Charlotte is a great place to live. It’s a rapidly growing city that has a lot of the great amenities of bigger cities, without a lot of the problems that come with living there.
  • When you have a break from the track, what restaurants around the speedway or in Charlotte have you been to? There are a lot of great restaurants in Charlotte now. One of my favorite places to eat Uptown is BLT in The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte. That’s a cool area. Around the lake where I live, I really enjoy 131 Main and Dressler’s.
  • Where is your favorite place to play in Charlotte? Well, I don’t have a lot of time to play really, but I love Lake Norman State Park . I wish I had more time to take the boats out and play. It’s a beautiful place.
  • If you were talking to a new NASCAR fan, what would you recommend they experience in Charlotte? Well, first and foremost the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The staff there does a great job of explaining the sport, from the beginning all the way to today. I’d also recommend they visit some of the shops like Penske Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. After seeing everything that goes on behind the scenes, fans typically have a new level of respect for what goes on. With that said, if they really want to experience what drivers go through, they should check out our Rusty Wallace Racing Experience that comes to Charlotte Motor Speedway a few times a year. They can get behind the wheel of a real stock car and get a little taste of what it’s like.
  • What is your favorite place to shop in Charlotte? I shop in Charlotte a lot; my favorite clothing store is Taylor, Richards and Conger at Phillips Place. Those guys are great and have a lot of cool stuff.
  • Do you follow any other sports teams in Charlotte or is there any other sport in Charlotte you would be interested in experiencing? Originally being from St. Louis, our family is filled with baseball fans. I’ve seen the new stadium downtown, but haven’t had a chance to go yet. I really want to go to a Panthers and Hornets game too.
  • What is something everyone should experience at Charlotte Motor Speedway? The Rusty Wallace Racing Experience comes to the speedway several times a year. Fans can either get behind the wheel of a former race car or ride along with a professional driver. I hear from people all the time that say they have a whole new appreciation for NASCAR drivers after having gone through the program.
  • How have you seen Charlotte change over the years since you’ve been coming for races? Well, the track has definitely changed a lot, but one thing is still the same – Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the most beautiful facilities in the sport. As far as the city overall, it has definitely grown a ton. There are places that are almost unrecognizable from when we moved to Charlotte back in 1986. There’s just so much to do in Charlotte that didn’t exist back then.

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Trevor Bayne

Driver, No. 6 advocare ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing

About You

  • Where are you originally from? Knoxville, Tenneessee
  • How long have you lived in the Charlotte region? I’ve been in the Charlotte area for eight years.
  • What are your favorite TV shows? Fixer Upper and Forever
  • What music are you currently in to? Bethel Music, Hillsong, Rend Collective
  • What kind of street car are you currently driving? Ford F-150 Raptor
  • What other sports/activities do you enjoy? Any form of racing/extreme sports as far as watching sports goes. Whether that be Supercross or NASCAR. For activities, I enjoy wakeboarding, surfing, golfing, mountain biking, snowboarding and triathlon training.

About Charlotte

  • Name your favorite restaurants in the Charlotte area. Dandelion Market, 131 Main, eeZ Fusion & Sushi, Hickory Tavern and Field of Greens.
  • Name your favorite attractions in Charlotte. U.S. National Whitewater Center, GoPro Motorplex, Lake Norman State Park I think everyone should visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center at least once.
  • What is your favorite racing memory at Charlotte Motor Speedway? That would have to be last season when we announced that I would be going NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing full time with Jack Roush and AdvoCare in the No. 6 Ford. That was a special day.
  • When you’re not racing, what are some of your favorite things to do in Charlotte? I really enjoy woodworking and playing the guitar. I also love anything along the lines of triathlon training whether that be mountain biking or running.
  • Describe what you love about Charlotte. There are a lot of outdoor activities that you can do in Charlotte and the surrounding area. There are plenty of lakes and mountain bike trails that you can go to. That's my favorite thing about living here, there's really endless possibilities of what you can do, especially outdoors.

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This article ran in th May 2015 issue of Charlotte Happenings