Where’s the best seat at the track?
In my early years of attending auto racing, my father’s rule was: Sit at the top of the grandstands, at the end of a row. The reason being it was safer the higher you were, and it would be easier to get in and out if you sat near the aisle. As I gained more freedom and headed to nearby speedways with my friends, my experiences along with improved track seating and layouts, has made me reform Dad’s seating doctrine for attending an auto race.
For many years I would sit near or at the top of the grandstand. This usually ensured me of being able to see the backstretch without the catch fence obstructing my view, but not always. I’ve seen some tracks now with front stretch fencing so high that it blocks your view of the far side of the oval no matter where you choose to sit. There are raceways now that have stands constructed farther away from the track, so if you don’t mind a view from behind the fence, you will be at a somewhat safer distance even if you sit in the bottom row. Warning: car numbers can become extremely unreadable at this distance! Personally, I like to see the numbers on the doors as they pass by. So the time came to rethink Dad’s philosophy. My son Rich and I will sit down low for qualifying to get our taste of blurred cars and the increased decibels of race car engines. But when the show begins, our favorite seats are usually just past the start-finish line at a number readable height. More recently, we have ventured into the seats between turns one and two, where we have found a clearer view of the entire track. A grassy hillside is sometimes an option where families can stake out a place on a blanket and let the kids (grandkids in my case) run around to play during lulls in the action. Depending on the track, there are more choices from sitting in your camping chairs or upgrading to seats with a back. Some tracks even have reserved table seating and servers that will bring you beverages.
Concerning aisle seats: I’ve concluded that although they are convenient, they can be extremely annoying. Very often someone will want to step on your toes to visit the restroom or get some concessions right at the moment a car is challenging the leader of the race. There are certain individuals who can’t sit for more than one heat race and they repeatedly come and go to wander the racetrack grounds. Even with today’s decrease in track attendance aisle seating can still be tight; particularly at special events. My solution to this annoyance: sit in the middle of the row. Here you will find the seats that get less traffic. And yes, I am now one of those people annoying the patrons at the end of the row when nature calls or when I take the grandkids to get a burger and soda pop. So be it. The time had come for me to abandon Dad’s rule of sitting at the end of the row.
On future outings to explore new race venues, I will continue my hunt for my favorite place to sit at a weeknight show. But I can assure you my experiences at the track have become more enjoyable by surveying the track for the most comfortable seat. I may eventually find a raceway that has new and better seating options, and I may become a member of the folding chair club or even join the fans in the infield or pit; but for now, you will find me sitting not at the top nor at the bottom, but about halfway up, and in the middle of the row.