Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – NASCAR Weekend
Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 7721 Steam Corners Rd Lexington, OH 44904
Year Opened: 1962
NASCAR in Ohio
Mid-Ohio is known for being a top-level destination for car racing. Not only are the fans loud, proud of their favorite drivers, knowledgeable, and loyal, but the food is great, the scenery is beautiful, and the facility provides exciting racing. Now if only the traffic and getting to the track weren’t as bad as they are, then there would be little keeping Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course from being among the best around. While IndyCar weekend may be the top event for fans to visit the track, NASCAR weekend provides a different vibe all together.
Food & Beverage 4
Living in Ohio, or visiting Ohio, brings with it a culinary world of wonders. From Cincinnati to Cleveland there is no shortage of places to find great food – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is no different. With numerous places to find food and drinks at food stands around the course, quenching your thirst or getting a bite to eat isn’t hard to do. The food here ranges from the standard burgers and hot dogs to fresh and authentic Polish sausage sandwiches. The best part? It won’t break the bank.
Food ranges between $5 and $10 for mainline meals, including chips or fries. Drinks (soda and water) are standard as well, costing only a few bucks each. And if that doesn’t do it for you, then get some pizza from one of the numerous traveling pizza servers. Yes, I said traveling servers – driving around the property on ATVs and off-road vehicles that feature warm pizza onboard, you can purchase your lunch and something to drink without losing your spot on the hillside, while watching the action on the track.
Ohio sports fans know how to hype up the energy, even at a car race. In addition, the camping on-site is on the same level as the best sports tailgating in the country. Dare I say, the views from the trackside camping are also among the best. The view you can get with a camper parked at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is not like some race courses where you are separated from the actual track and in your own parking area. Instead, here you can see the actual track from your campsite, with your tent right up next to the trackside barrier and fences – it’s hard to find a racing venue with a better place to stay at the track, where you can camp while seeing the race as well. In addition, for those who enjoy the group aspect, camping is also available in the various woods around the track.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course isn’t in a major city, nor is it near a thriving metropolis. Instead, it is quite literally in the middle of farm country outside of Mansfield. The biggest town near the track, Mansfield, is also not that big of a place, but has its own mall and several places to eat and stay.
While nice, the track is separated from civilization, giving a bit of an isolationist feel to the facility. One of the track’s entrances actually features a driveway that goes through a farm field, while another road leading to the front entrance goes through Lexington, a small town with a 35 mile per hour speed limit – this small town does embrace race weekend however, with local shops and restaurants putting on their best for race fans who pass through.
For food, driving into Mansfield will bring you to Texas Roadhouse and Olive Garden, two popular stops for drivers and teams. For hotels, Hampton Inn & Suites Mansfield South and The Inn on Smith’s Hill are also popular stays. For sights the Ohio State Reformatory, located outside of Mansfield, was the filming location of the popular “Shawshank Redemption,” and even offers tours. Another popular stop is Cedar Point theme park, an hour north in Sandusky.
The fans at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course are known for packing the hillsides on race day. Even if they don’t know the drivers on the track, they’ll pick their own favorite car and cheer for that team, whether they’re first or last on the track. In addition, if you get lost most are more than willing to help you find your way. While the crowds may not be as big as during IndyCar weekend, NASCAR still brings out a ton of locals and series-loyal fans to the facility.
Getting to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course isn’t exactly easy; it’s in the middle of nowhere. It is also a fair driving distance from the highway, all down one-lane roads with speed limits that average about 40 miles per hour. And once you get to the track, all the parking is in grassy or dirt fields, with some spots on the hills. Your rarely-used parking brake will come in handy at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as many parking areas are on hillsides with noticeable slants, that will become slippery if it rains.
Needless to say, getting out after the races takes a lot of work and patience, as traffic is quite an ordeal. The one lane road coming in and out, as well as the single bridge leading from the infield to the outer portions of the facility, mean you may spend hours walking or driving out before you even reach the main gates.
Return on Investment 4
While it may take some travel to get to the track, going to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a track steeped in history and sporting tradition, is worth the trip. There are plenty of places to see big sections of the track, and the beautiful hillside scenery makes for a great backdrop for a NASCAR, IndyCar, or sports car race.
That said you also have to bring your appetite, as the food will be hard to resist once you smell its sweet scent wafting through the air.
There are many extras at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that set it apart from other racing venues. First, the social media interaction helps engage fans while at the track – Instagram posts with the race’s hashtags show up on the monitors and big screens during the weekend. Another bonus is the great weather the track usually enjoys – even in the summer, it gets no warmer than the low 80s.
Something else that gets the fans engaged is the large fan zone at the interior of the track. With displays, shopping for souvenirs, and driver interaction events, fans can get up close and personal with their favorite drivers and teams. In addition, autograph sessions throughout the weekend get you the opportunity to meet your favorite drivers up close and personal. Fans can also wander throughout some of the pits and garage areas to see their favorite teams at work, preparing their cars for the on-track action. During NASCAR weekend, special access passes are required to get into the NASCAR section of the paddock, but Trans-Am, Stadium Super Trucks, and F3/F4 are all open to the public.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is that the garages feature a fan walkway above that looks down on the old-fashioned wooden and open-air rooms; this gives you a unique bird’s eye view of the NASCAR teams working on their machines, a view that few other tracks offer.
If you want a quick, action-packed racetrack that features great camping, a beautiful backdrop, some of the loudest and most passionate fans in racing, and is far from the hustle and bustle of city life, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is the place for you. You won’t leave hungry, you won’t leave disappointed, but you may leave in a long line of traffic (fair warning).