May 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts May 2002 Current Issue
May 2002
Short Cuts:
A Day at the Races

The Pit Stop Challenge at Daytona USA

Thanks largely to major TV network support, auto racing has gone mainstream with a vengeance. NASCAR now claims to have 75 million fans, more than half of whom are hard-core fanatics who watch at least nine hours of racing a week. With such a zealous following, racing-themed events are naturally on the rise, particularly in major speedway towns, says Holli Harris Hyatt, corporate, convention and association sales manager at Daytona International Speedway/Daytona USA.

Cities that are home to Indy car tracks are capitalizing on the theme, too, says Susie Townsend, senior manager of convention services and events at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Bureau. Among the creative elements fueling racing-inspired events:

An announcer kicking off the event with “Gentlemen, start your engines...”
Piped in engine noises
Black-and-white checkered carpeting and flags
Wait staff dressed in pit-crew jumpsuits
Photo opportunities in a race car or with a driver
Teams competing in a tire-changing contest
Virtual reality racing machines and remote-controlled race cars
An oversize screen playing race footage
Themed F&B stations, with names like Pit Stop and First Turn
Stacks of tires filled with ice to hold beer and soft drinks
Award ceremonies conducted in a replica of Victory Lane
Chocolate race cars for dessert and die-cast cars as take-home gifts

For a crash course on the NASCAR craze, including statistics, track locations and race schedules, go to


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