What's the deal with NASCAR hot dogs?

Hot dogs being prepared at Martinsville Speedway
Hot dogs being prepared at Martinsville Speedway
Photo: Tyler Barrick (Getty Images for NASCAR)

We’re not setting this up like some hackneyed comedy bit—hey, what’s the deal with airport security lines, amiright?—but we Tofurky-sucking snowflakes genuinely want to know: Are NASCAR racetrack hot dogs amazing?

We’re fans of finding encased meat love in hopeless places. The Costco food court, notably, serves our favorite $1.50 hot dog (fight us about this). As frankfurter enthusiasts, we were stricken to find out that, perhaps, a delicious, $2 chili dog has been under our radars and under our noses this whole time: the NASCAR racetrack hot dog.

It came to our attention via USA Today’s report that the Nascar Martinsville Speeedway in Ridgeway, Virginia, site of two annual NASCAR races, will bring back longtime hot dog supplier Jesse Jones hot dogs. A few years ago, NASCAR swapped Jesse Jones dogs for Valleydale Hot Dogs, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, NBC News reported, and fans did not take the news lightly. For three years, they’ve pined and asked and begged for beloved Jesse Jones’ return, and finally NASCAR heard their cries.


“Our fans have told us they wanted Jesse Jones back and we have listened,” Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell told USA Today.

Yes, the beloved dogs are back, and there is much rejoicing.

Now that we’ve come to the harsh realization that there are, in fact, people more versed in delicious, <$5 hot dogs than us, we ask for your help: What makes these Martinsville Speedway dogs so scrumptious? Do we need to book tickets to Virginia immediately? And what other cheap hot dog wonderlands are still out there waiting for us to discover them?


Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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City Mac's Greased Up Beefcakes

Well, since you asked, I grew up on Jesse Jones hot dogs and can tell you that there is one distinction between Jesse Jones and other hot dogs out there. They’re red.

I wouldn’t say they’re great, or better than most hot dogs out there and, at least here in NC, there is a definite split between people that like and hate red hot dogs. I would describe the taste and consistency as very far from a sausage. They’re thin skinned and processed meat with an almost baloney flavor going on, but it’s tradition around here and I’d take a red hot dog any day of the week.

That being said, it’s not really the hot dog that makes or breaks it, it’s the whole shebang. It’s a red hot dog with hot dog chili sauce (like Patterson’s Brand and no beans), onions, mustard, and that slaw.

Something about slapping all that stuff together makes a great inexpensive hot dog. Most of all though, I think it’s just so ingrained in the culture that it brings back a lot of memories for a lot of southern people, myself included.

NC has a lot of classic old-school hot dog places to check out. Number 5 is from my home town.