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Getting the Party Started

NASCAR’s impact soon to be felt

Speedway plans ‘hauler parade’
to kick off the festivities in three area cities

 

 
(July 2011)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

NASCAR fans throughout the area are in for a treat in July when all three major race series come to the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. The highly touted inaugural Sprint Cup Series race, the Quaker State 400, represents the first race addition to the Sprint Cup schedule since Chicago and Kansas were added in 2001.
Track officials and neighboring communities have been preparing for months, and now that the race week has arrive, the heat is one for them to put on the best show possible.
“We want everyone to put their best foot forward, because the people coming are not just Kentucky Speedway guests, they are all of our guests, and we want them to come back,” said Jesse Harris, a marketing official with the Kentucky Speedway.
Harris has spent weeks visiting area towns and meeting with groups to help them prepare for the onslaught of race fans and families who will be coming to spend up to a week in the region. “For many of them, this is their vacation. They bring their families and kids and they want things to do during the day and when there is no racing going on at the track. So it’s a great opportunity for everyone.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Hauler Parade
Wednesday, July 6,
in Lexington,
Cincinnati and Louisville

• Lexington Hauler Parade: At Wal-Mart Supercenter, 2350 Grey Lag Way. 35 haulers arrive from 10-10:30 a.m.; program kickoff begins at 11:30 a.m.; haulers depart Hamburg Place at 12:15 p.m. and begin parade through downtown, along Main Street to Newtown Pike to I-75 and on to Sparta.
• Cincinnati Hauler Stop: At 150 W. Fifth St. and Race Street Parking Lot. Featuring Joe Gibbs Racing (Nos. 11, 18, 20) and Stewart Haas Racing (Nos. 14, 39). Haulers arrive from 10-11 a.m.; event opens to public at 11:30 a.m.; NASCAR and the city of Cincinnati Presentation by Mayor Mark Mallory
at noon; haulers depart at 1 p.m. for Sparta.
• Louisville Hauler Stop: At 4th Street Live! 401 S. Fourth St. Featuring Roush Fenway Racing Team (Nos. 6,16,17, 99). Haulers arrive at 11 a.m. for display; haulers depart at 1 p.m. for Sparta.

Some local communities have taken Harris’ advice and taken action.
In Carrollton, the closest town to the track with hotels and chain restaurants, the Chamber of Commerce and tourism office have teamed to organize a “Race Fest” from 5-11 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, at the Courthouse Square. Show cars and race simulators are scheduled to visit Carrollton Wal-Mart from 3-8 p.m. July 6, and at the La Grange Wal-Mart from 3-8 p.m. July 7. In La Grange, merchants have created a limited edition NASCAR inaugural race coin to sell for the occasion and are welcoming fans into the community. Race simulators will visit the Madison, Ind., Wal-Mart from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 7.
These are only a few examples of what will likely be expanded in future years as the real impact of a Sprint Cup Series race hits the region in July.
Harris has been sounding the warning bells.
For instance, as an indication, all six campgrounds created on the Kentucky Speedway property are booked. That’s 13,000 people living for a week in 4,500 camp sites. The track has now partnered with neighboring property owners to direct campers to six privately-run campgrounds in Gallatin County.

Jesse Harris

Harris

During a June 21 press conference at the track, General Manager Mark Simendinger said officials there fully expect a sellout crowd for Saturday’s Sprint Cup Series race. Standing-room-only tickets may be sold. Tickets are still available for Friday’s Nationwide Series race, the “Feed the Children 300,” and Thursday’s Camping World Truck Series race, the “UNOH 225.”
“We believe that over time, this July date will become to be known as our time for the dominant sporting event in the region,” Simendinger said. “We want to put on a great show and prove that is was a very good idea for NASCAR to come here.”
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has called this event “the largest single sporting event in the state of Kentucky, even bigger than the Kentucky Derby.” He has worked with transportation officials to halt interstate construction on I-71 and I-75 during race week and help direct semi-truck traffic away from the area to alleviate the enormous challenge of getting 105,000 race fans in and out of the track.

Kentucky Speedway Construction

Photo courtesy of NASCAR

A parade of 35 race car haulers will
invade the Bluegrass region and
Cincinnati on July 6 to mark NASCAR’s
inaugural Sprint Cup Series arrival
at the Kentucky Speedway.

Harris, an experienced NASCAR veteran, having been a driver and car owner and NASCAR employee, also has been working hard to fuel the excitement of this historic event. He has organized a unique NASCAR Sprint Cup Hauler Parade to help introduce NASCAR to the region in a ceremonious way. A parade of 35 haulers – semi-truck rigs carrying each driver’s primary and backup race cars on the top deck and complete tool shop on the bottom deck – will leave from Charlotte, N.C., the second week of July and head for the Bluegrass State and Cincinnati. Most of the haulers will arrive in Lexington – the heart of the Bluegrass State – on Wednesday, July 6, while a handful of haulers will visit Cincinnati and Louisville. They will parade down Main Street in Lexington before heading off to Sparta. Cincinnati is planning a Fan Fest on the riverfront, where Mayor Mark Mallory will arrive in a pace car and proclaim “NASCAR Day.” Haulers for Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart Hass Racing will visit Cincinnati. In Louisville, the Roush Fenway Race Hauler will set up at 4th Street Live! during the lunch hour.
Show
“We want area residents to help us welcome these race fans to the region so will have a positive experience and want to come back because this will only continue to get bigger and better in the years to come,” Harris said.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: Don@RoundAbout.bz.

 

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