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June 25. 2012 11:30PM

Obama campaign declines offer to stop by NHMS during visit


New Hampshire Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Gappens announced Monday that he was auctioning off for charity two tickets to the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 first offered to President Barack Obama. (COURTESY)
MANCHESTER — President Barack Obama’s Granite State visit did not include a stop at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway to pick up tickets left under his name for next month’s NASCAR race.

Rather than going to the commander-in-chief, the tickets will go to the highest bidder and the proceeds to Speedway Children’s Charities.

“Instead of tossing these tickets aside, we’re going to put the tickets to use,” NHMS General Manager Jerry Gappens said in a news release announcing the auction Monday.

Gappens made the offer last week, inviting Obama to stop by the Loudon track and pick up the tickets while he was in the Granite State Monday for a campaign stop in Durham.

The offer was a long shot — presidential campaigns are not known for scheduling flexibility — and it garnered some publicity for the track, which is generally packed for the two NASCAR stops it hosts each season.

“Thank you Jerry for your generous offer,” said Pete Kavanaugh, state director for the Obama campaign.

“New Hampshire Motor Speedway has a proud history, and while the President will not be able to attend, we certainly appreciate the offer.”

Gappens joked in a news release last week that perhaps Obama would even let him check out Air Force One in return for the tickets, which will be auctioned off online.

Gappens started the bidding at $100 per ticket; the tickets have a face value of $110 each.

“This also creates an opportunity for someone to bid on a very unique set of tickets that provide a view of the race fit for the President,” Gappens said in a release Monday.

The auction will run at gospeedway.com/auctions/nhms/index.asp from Wednesday through July 6.

The tickets have been printed already, complete with Obama’s name and Pennsylvania Avenue address.

The money raised by the auction goes to Speedway Children’s Charities, which benefits non-profits throughout New England. The “Obama” tickets are a

n unplanned fundraiser on a list that also includes Laps for Charity on July 11, when members of the general public can hit the oval track in their own vehicles for three laps in return for a $30 donation.

NHMS will host the first of two NASCAR races this season on July 15 in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301.

The circuit returns to New Hampshire this fall for the Sylvania 300 on Sept. 23.

dalden@unionleader.com

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