Delaware-themed food selections at Dover International Speedway include the The Martin Truex Jr. Walking Clam Nachos, which are topped with New England clam chowder, bacon, jack cheese, scallions and old bay dust./Photo courtesy of SoDel Concepts
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Long accustomed to chowing down with a burger and a beer, the NASCAR lover is getting a chance to try something new for the pregame meal and the caution flag snack.
No, it’s not haute cuisine, but visitors to the Dover International Speedway this year are discovering tasty and nourishing ingredients—think arugula, crab béchamel, fresh lobster, scallions, Cotija and shaved vegetables—slipped into Delaware-ish delights named to captivate hungry fans who believe that speed thrills.
SoDel Concepts, operator of 11 restaurants in coastal Sussex County, put together the menu. “We went in with the mindset that we wanted to showcase the state of Delaware, especially coastal Delaware,” says Doug Ruley, SoDel’s vice president of culinary operations.
For the coastal theme, SoDel created the Fried Softshell Sandwich, with buttermilk flash-fried softshell crab, arugula, corn relish and tartar sauce on a potato roll.
For the Delaware name, there’s the Delaware Destroyer, a tribute to “Bad to the Bone” rocker George Thorogood: waffle-cut fries topped with crab béchamel, white cheddar, scallions, bacon and Old Bay seasoning.
For racing fans, the most appropriately named snack would have to be the Pit Stop Southern Shrimp Boiled Peanuts.
And, for just plain fun, what selection could be better than the Sticky Icky Fried Rice Bowl, filled with fried chicken morsels, shaved vegetables, fried egg and, of course, that secret special sauce? SoDel sold more than 1,000 rice bowls over the May race weekend, Ruley says.
But the overwhelming crowd favorite for that weekend, he adds, was the Slingshot Scrapple Grilled Cheese—scrapple, American cheese and a fried egg sandwiched between two slices of white bread.
The menu for October will follow May’s offerings, but the seasonal flavorings may change up a bit as the seasons swing from Cinco de Mayo to Oktoberfest.
Predicting how much food a crowd of 40,000 or so might consume can be quite a challenge, but it’s probably easier than predicting the weather.
“We would have liked 85 degrees, sunny and dry,” Ruley says of the May race, but the weekend high was 79 on Friday, and nearly an inch of rain fell Sunday, postponing the feature race until Monday.
“We had to be on our toes,” says Lisa Wheeler, SoDel’s human resources director. Some of the serving areas had to be relocated or shut down because of puddling, and staffing assignments had to be juggled because some workers were not available on Monday, forcing management stalwarts like the director of operations, the pastry chef and the wine director to man the front lines.
In one respect, it turned out better, Ruley said, because most of the fans who came expecting a race on Sunday stayed around for Monday, giving SoDel an extra day to sell.
In addition to SoDel’s offerings, spectators will have even more options available—from food trucks and familiar regional names like Grotto Pizza and Rita’s Water Ice.
For beer lovers, the speedway has worked with Dover’s Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co. to create Splash & Go, an easy drinking lager that will be available throughout the race weekend.
“We were kind of leery going in, but very excited with how it turned out,” Ruley says. “There’s foodies out there in NASCAR.”