NASCAR was back to town over the weekend with the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Here are a few photos from the weekend which included a sky walk by famed daredevil Nik Wallenda, a Goo Goo Dolls concert and of course plenty of racin’. The race itself was quick (second quickest in the history of the 500) with no major wrecks or cautions. It looked like Jimmie Johnson would run away with it until a late debris caution forced a restart. In the end, a race that was dominated by “Chase of the Cup” contenders was won by a non-chase driver Brad Keselowski.
College football is here. I know folks all over the country have been waiting for their favorite team to return to the gridiron since January, but for Charlotte the wait has been longer. Saturday, August 31 marked the first ever game for the new University of North Carolina at Charlotte football team. While nowhere near the magnitude of an SEC game, the atmosphere was electric. My fiancé teaches at the college and couldn’t even get a ticket.
The Charlotte 49ers started things off right with a pick-six against the visiting Camels from Campbell University and never looked back on the way to a 52-7 victory. The student body rushed the field after the game and chanted “Undefeated!” as the players left the field.
I covered the inaugural game for the Independent Tribune and here are a few of my favorites from the game.
Charlotte’s Mark Hogan intercepts a pass intended for Campbell’s AJ Artis during the 49ers inaugural football game against Campbell Saturday afternoon at Jerry Richardson Stadium in Charlotte. Hogan returned the interception for a touchdown.
Charlotte running back Kalif Phillip scores a touch down in the second quarter. Philips was a standout back at A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis.
Each May, I think back to 2007 when I accepted a job in Concord, North Carolina. As I drove to my interview, I passed a rather large speedway and thought to myself “I’ll probably be seeing this place a lot.” Prior to coming to the greater Charlotte area, the most exposure I’d had to NASCAR or any motor sport, was laughing with my friends at Will Ferrell’s Ricky Bobby in “Talladega Nights.”
For two weeks every May and one week in October, the NASCAR world takes over Cabarrus County. While I still don’t quite understand it, I’ve grown to appreciate the sport, especially the individuals that dedicate themselves to it. Here are a few of my favorite images from the Sprint All Star Race, the Coca-Cola 600 and all the surrounding hoopla that comes to Concord’s Charlotte Motor Speedway each May.
Stuntman Spanky Spangler attempted a stunt prior to the All Star Race and apparently landed harder than he anticipated.
With the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend, the speedway goes all-out with patriotism. Above: The 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus performs. Below: Robert West, curator for the American Eagle Foundation, releases Challenger, a bald eagle, for a fly over Charlotte Motor Speedway.
When a driver wins a race, they do the celebratory burn out and head to Victory Lane for a fairly staged celebration with their team. The shots always looks the same. with different faces. I was pretty happy when Kyle Busch, after winning the History 300 climbed out of his car on the track.
The stakes might not be as high as they are in college or the NBA, but every now and then some late season magic happens in the high school basketball world. This year, the Cox Mill Chargers put on quite a show during the South Piedmont Conference Tournament with an overtime-thriller against the No.1 team in the state and then a buzzer-beating half-court shot to win the championship. (The conference is made up of the eight public high schools in Cabarrus County NC).
First in the semi-finals of the tournament, the Chargers shocked the top-seeded Concord Spiders on their home court. I’ve covered both regular season games between the two teams and both time Cox Mill got off to a fast start before falling behind to the better-conditioned Spiders late in the game. Concord was the one off to the fast start this time, but Cox Mill fought its way back and into the lead by half time.
Cox Mill built on its lead into the fourth quarter but Concord showed why they are a favorite to make it deep into the state playoffs by coming back and sending the game to overtime. The Chargers continued to dominate in OT and stunned the Concord fan base.
In the championship game Cox Mill met up with A.L. Brown High School, better known as the Kannapolis Wonders. Kannapolis had lost two close games to the cross-town rival Spiders and were probably glad not to seem them again. Cox Mill would be easy.
The Wonders led for most of the game, but Cox Mill hung in there. A three-point shot by Jordan Peace right before half-time made it a one-point game.
As the game neared it’s end, the typical fouls to stop the clock started. Kannapolis missed a couple of free throws and the Chargers scored quick. Finally it seemed inevitable that the Wonders would win when Keeon Johnson went to the line with 2.9 second left. He hit his first free throw to give his team a two-point lead.
The second free throw bounced off the rim into the hands of Justin Peace (Jordan Peace’s twin brother). With the seconds ticking away Peace made it to half court where he heaved up a prayer. I’m preparing to shoot reaction from the Kannapolis bench as they celebrate the championship. Instead the shot goes in and the entire gymnasium erupts. I’m not used to fans rushing to the court in celebration, it doesn’t happen that often in high school.