Down economy not expected to slow fansWritten by Brandi Barhite | Associate Editor | email@example.com
ck of fans expected to show up for the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup series the weekend of Aug. 14 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS).
Last year, numbers climbed close to 110,000, and while it probably won’t be that high this year, it will be about 100,000, said Dennis Worden, MIS public relations manager.
“We have seen a dip, but it isn’t as big of a dip as we thought. We are still going to be right around 100,000 … which isn’t too bad for this economy,” he said.
“NASCAR fans are the most passionate fans,” Worden said. “They will do whatever it takes to get here, whether they have a job or not.”
One way fans keep it affordable is by camping, according to Worden. With 9,000 campsites on the MIS property, it’s common for visitors to turn a race weekend into a week’s vacation, he said.
While MIS prefers when people actually come to the track, some people save money by camping at MIS and then watching the race on television, Worden said.
One of the highlights of this year’s race is the Aug. 15 post-race concert featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The American blues guitarist, singer and songwriter will perform at 7:30 p.m. He will also serve as grand marshal for the NASCAR Nationwide Series earlier that day.
“I’m very excited to perform following the CARFAX 250,” Shepherd said in a press release. “This is a perfect opportunity for me to combine my passion for playing music with my passion for fast cars and racing. Cars and guitars are what it’s all about for me.”
Empire Drift to play
Toledo area band Empire Drift will open for Shepherd, an opportunity that came with winning the Song of Toledo contest.
“This will be the biggest show we have ever played at,” said guitarist Rick Shugarman. “We are totally pumped. We started preparing a few weeks ago with our eye on this ever since we found out.”
Shugarman said Shepherd is one of the best blues guitarists and he’s excited to see him play live.
“I will have the butterflies,” Shugarman said of performing, “but it’s all part of the journey.”
Worden said the post-race concert usually generates excitement. In the past, MIS hosted concerts in June and August during race weekends, but it has since become an August-only event.
“Everyone just loves it,” he said. “If you already have a ticket or infield wristband for Saturday’s CARFAX 250 race, you can watch the concert for free. It’s just another perk with your race admission.”
Worden said the new Kids Zone will likely continue to be a big attraction, too. The zone includes rock-climbing walls and an inflatable obstacle course that their parents can use, too.
Kids 12 and under are free to all MIS events when accompanied by an adult who has purchased a ticket. The ticket is for the general admission grandstands 14 and 16 located between turns three and four.
Worden said Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon continue to be some of the more popular drivers, but it’s hard to say if one driver attracts more attention.
“Everyone has their own pick,” Worden said.
While weather has traditionally not been a problem during race weekends, it can dampen spirits, but usually not for long. Worden can only think of one time in recent MIS history where a race was canceled because of weather and moved to another day. Rain ruined the day at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 2.
“In Michigan, June through August, it will rain for awhile, but we will dry it up and still get the race in and everyone has a good time,” Worden said.
For tickets, which range in prices, visit www.mispeedway.com and click on “Get Tickets.”
8 a.m. Parking lots open
10 a.m. Gates open to public
Noon to 1:30 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice
1:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series practice
3:40 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying (two laps, all positions)
5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series Final practice (one hour, time permitting)
7 a.m. Parking lots open
9 a.m. Gates open to the public
10:40 a.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying (two laps, all positions)
12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice
1:50 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice
3 p.m. Pre-race activities and driver introductions
3:30 p.m. Start of NASCAR Nationwide Series CARFAX 250 (125 laps, 250 miles)
5:30 a.m. Parking lots open
8 a.m. Gates open to the public
1:30 p.m. Pre-race activities and driver introductions
2 p.m. Start of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Michigan 400 (200 laps, 400 miles)