Throughout Saturday afternoon, as NASCAR fans awaited the upcoming All-Star Race, the outskirts of Charlotte Motor Speedway was the place to be.
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Several thousand people roamed the area, bouncing between food trucks and entertainment displays scattered throughout the designated fan zone. But the largest congregation formed in front of a stage a little farther down, behind Turn 1.
It was there that country music artist Justin Moore entertained fans for about an hour and a half. And during his time on stage, the sense of community that NASCAR fans appear to share was evident.
With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, cooler-carrying fans indulged in alcoholic beverages as Moore played songs such as “Lettin’ the Night Roll” and “How I Got to Be This Way.” The latter induced some head-banging from the fans who parked their trucks along a nearby fence for the show.
Moore kept the good times rolling with his hit “Small Town USA,” a song seemingly fit for the once empty plot of land that now flooded with people. Knowing his audience, Moore made a popular lyric change to the song, substituting Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s name for Hank Williams Jr.’s in the chorus.
However, no song energized fans as much as “Small Town Throwdown,” composed by Moore, Brantley Gilbert and Thomas Rhett.
“I can’t think of a better place to play this song,” said Moore. “There isn’t a better place for a small-town throwdown than at a NASCAR race.”
Once Moore’s pre-race show ended, many of the concertgoers made their way back toward the fan zone, where they encircled a fighting ring for four bouts that were part of the Monster Energy Bellator MMA Fight Series.
The ring was positioned just below a hill. And as many people took a seat on it, the ring took on the feeling of a coliseum, with fans yelling from above as fights waged on.
The light heavyweight bout, which opened the competition, featured Allen Bose of Jacksonville and Chris Crawford of Durham. Bose won the three-round contest by unanimous decision, improving to 6-0 in his career.