Frugal Racing Road Trip

This past weekend we drove 1200 miles on a road up to Darlington, SC to attend the NASCAR races. Its a trip we do every year because we are race fans, plus its close enough to drive to. The problem with attending out of town NASCAR races is that its possible for the race to rain out and be postponed until the next day. The Darlington Southern 500 is run on Friday night and then Saturday night, so Sunday is free to drive/travel home, or be the makeup date for a postponed race.
This year the weather was sunny, hot and breezy - so no delays. Anyway, back to the road trip.  We attend this race every year so we actually renewed our tickets last year so that expense was already taken care of. But they were not particularly cheap, the Busch race was $35 each and the cup race was $94 each. We have premium seats right on the start finish line, twenty rows up so we can see the entire track and we have the end seats so we can run up and down the stairs to get food and use the restroom. Plus when the big fat sweaty smelly guy sitting next to you stands up (and your nose is in his butt space), you can squish over into the aisle to get away from it. So the tickets put us back $264.
For frugal hotel expenses, we used our government id to get the cheap rate of $70 for each of three nights at the Marriott Residence Inn. This was a great deal to stay at a nice hotel with free newspapers, free hot breakfast and a full kitchen. The race weekend is an event weekend and all hotels within 100 miles are booked at full rate. We are lucky that this hotel was less than 10 miles to the track, and we know the back way to get there so we didn't experience the hours of frustration sitting in traffic that most race fans go through. The trick to getting the government rate at the hotel, is to book it online as soon as allowed for the next year, before the venue realizes that its race weekend. Unfortunately, most of the racing travel packages, and race teams and media all like to stay at the nice hotels too, and the Marriott actually called me last year to try to get me to cancel my reservation because they needed it for a team. I refused and they actually honored the reservation.  That's exactly why I always book our stay at least two hotels, in case one cancels us to get a full price paying customers. So the hotel cost us $235.
We drove so we could bring all our beverages and the kitchen sink too. The wonderful thing is I've been using my overage from shopping at Publix to get free or cheap beer. We also had free bottled water from coupons, and really cheap Powerade from recent sales and coupons. So we consumed 36 bottles of water, 60 beers (5 12 pks), a 12 pk of Diet Mt Dew soda, and a 6 pk of Powerade. Total cost $0.
Since this is a regular road trip for us, we know where we want to eat. We get a $50 gift card from the charge card and eat at Outback the first night for free. Then for lunch we get Zaxbys wings, and dinner is a Schlotzky's sandwich we bring to the track. The other wonderful thing about going to NASCAR events is that you can bring in soft coolers of beer and beverages, plus a bag for your scanner radio, peanuts and food. We brought everything in and didn't spend a penny at the track. Parking is even free on site. But we opt to pay the local dude $20 to park in his yard for a shady spot, and a quick getaway at the end. So in the end parking cost $40, and meals were $48. We also bought a pizza on the drive up there so we could eat in the car, for $10. Our Einsteins bagels were free with the facebook coupon, and I had a birthday card for free Starbucks we got free too.
Our gasoline for the trip was all paid using BP gas cards we got at Publix, so they were already paid for in March. Our average mileage was 31 mpg for a cost of $112 worth of gas, but I'm not going include that in this trips expense.
So our entire trip expenses totalled $600 for a 4 day weekend out of town. If we had had paid the regular hotel rate, had to pay for our beverages, food and gas the cost of the trip would have been $1517. So I'm proud of our frugal trip. The great thing is that I don't feel like we were being frugal, we got everything we wanted, and never hesitated on an activity due to expense.
Now thats the way to travel.

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