CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The NASCAR Hall of Fame is kicking off its opening day with a star-studded ceremony.
North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue joined Charlotte area dignitaries and representatives of NASCAR's past and present on a stage outside the Hall for the hour-long opening ceremony.
The city spent $195 million on the project and is touting it as the biggest and most technologically advanced Hall of Fame in professional sports. The 150,000-square-foot building is a shrine of memorabilia, exhibits that recreate old-time NASCAR lore, 154 video screens, racing simulators and interactive activities.
The inaugural class will be inducted May 23.
Inside the building will be more than 1,000 artifacts on display, including Wendell Scott's racing suit, a money clip Richard Petty gave to every driver in the field for his last race, Jack Smith's Pontiac that paced, but eventually lost, the very first World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In addition to the artifacts are interactive exhibits, a theater and Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.
A free community celebration will follow the opening ceremony and lasts until 8 p.m.
NASCAR drivers, concerts and food vendors will be set up outside for the celebration.Country music singer Lee Brice will perform a free concert at 2 p.m.
The Hall of Fame is filled with interactive activities that allow visitors to drive a race car simulator, either alone or in a race with friends.
There are also stations where visitors can practice pit stops against the clock, test their skills in the broadcast booth and experience the feel of 33 degree banking.
Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.