What do you have in common with Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick?
You’ve all raced at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Johnson clinched his four consecutive NASCAR® Sprint Cup Series championships there in the season-ending Ford 400. Patrick has been an annual contender in the Izod IndyCar season-ending race and now also competes there on the championship weekend of NASCAR racing.
You? You’ve raced at Homestead-Miami Speedway on …
What? You’ve haven’t raced at Homestead-Miami Speedway?
Well, that’s only because you haven’t tried. You haven’t yet experienced Speedway T-n-T. And if you’re a racing fan, it’s a rush you can’t pass up the next time you stay at Solara Surfside resort near Miami.
You see, the Florida speedway that plays host to six major professional car races—including the spectacular season finales in three NASCAR series and two in IndyCar—also gives the green light to fans like you who are in the area on vacation. Just show up almost any Friday between 6 p.m. and midnight with $20, a street-legal car and a little courage, and you can rev up on an eighth-of-a-mile straightaway.
T-n-T stands for test ‘n’ tune, and you can take as many turns as you want to see how fast you can go. Imagine yourself lined up across a thick cement barricade from another competitor, waiting, waiting, waiting for the green. Then off you go, supervised by experienced track personnel, timed with state-of-the-art equipment and cheered by friends snapping photos from the elevated Pit Road Cabanas.
It’s one of the coolest things to do in Miami during your adrenaline-fueled vacation.
If you’re less adventuresome but no less proud of your car, for $15 you can simply display it instead for other visitors … in one of the same garages used for NASCAR, IndyCar and Grand-Am races. Or if you happen to have packed up the family and come to Miami in your SUV, and pursuit of high performance isn’t going to be your thing this trip, you can watch the action from the cabanas for just $10.
But Speedway T-n-T is just one of many interactive events at the Homestead speedway on non-racing weeks. If you’re looking for a great team-building exercise for your business, organization or group, consider the karting program. If you’d like to tour the speedway’s 2.21-mile road course setup in a sports car or exotic, try the Luxury Driving Experience. Then there’s the Richard Petty Driving Experience and Indy Racing Experience, each of which offers and driver lessons and ride-alongs.
But if you’d rather leave the racing and cars to the pros altogether, plan your trip around the six signature NASCAR, IndyCar and Grand Am events. Visiting the speedway for a race, qualification or even practice is an experience you won’t soon forget.
The first of the big races is the Grand Prix of Miami, part of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Usually in early March, which is a popular time to visit Miami, this event brings the world’s best road racing drivers and teams to one of the series’ toughest tracks.
Next comes the IndyCars for their big championship weekend in early autumn. The Firestone Indy Lights Miami 100 features up-and-coming open-wheel drivers trying to earn rides in the top tier of their sport. That would be the Izod IndyCar Series, which features stars like Patrick, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. They line up for 200 laps around the 1.5-mile Homestead oval for the series championship-deciding Miami 300.
Finally, every November the speedway is the stage for the climactic weekend for motorsports in the United States, truly one of the biggest Miami attractions of the year.
NASCAR Championship weekend comprises three events. The Ford 200 completes the Camping World Truck Series. The Ford 300 closes out the Nationwide Series, an apprenticeship series much like the Indy Lights series. Patrick, the best-known if not most accomplished female open-wheel driver ever, began crossing over to NASCAR in 2010, racing in the Nationwide Series.
Talk about saving the best for last. The final race of the weekend is the Ford 400, 267 times around the track for series points that determine the championship and final season driver standings. So much is at stake each year for stars like Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, and that invariably makes the Ford 400 the most compelling race of the year.
If your vacation to South Florida coincides with the races, don’t miss ’em. But if you’re coming some other time—and have a car you think is fast—why not show up at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday night with $20 and a little courage?
Who knows? The young T-n-T racer of today could be the Ford 400 champion of tomorrow.