For fans, the fun is just beginning in Loudon
Race fans from throughout the Northeast and Canada relaxed, enjoyed food, beverages and entertainment as they passed the time Thursday before the weekend's NASCAR races, including the Sprint Cup series Sylvania 300.
Speedway officials projected that anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 campers and trailers, carrying 20,000 fans, will camp out on the speedway's grounds.
Among the campers was a good-humored crowd from Kingston, Ontario, transported by a 1992 school bus painted blue and dubbed, “The Blue Devil.”
Betty and Tom Gadomski, Barb Revelle, Alan Clarke, Ed Hickey, John Griffiths, and Jim Couto drove 10 hours to the speedway to enjoy the NASCAR races and root for their favorite drivers.
“We've been into NASCAR for about 10 years,” said Betty Gadomski, sitting in a lounge chair next to the Blue Devil. The flag of favorite driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was prominently draped over the bus' front fender.
The fans raved about the speedway's facility, its cleanliness and all the amenities it has added.
“We love everything about it, everything they have done to it,” said Hickey.
Down the rows of campers, Don and Diane Shepard of Pelham, Mass., relaxed outside their motor home, a larger model.
“We're NASCAR fans. We come every year, and go to the races in Daytona, too,” said Diane. More family members will join the Shepards for the races this weekend.
Among the fans were Ken Morin, 13, and his brother, Andrew, 8, who came up for the races with their parents, Ken and Cynthia Morin.
Ken Sr., said the trip to the NASCAR race week event was a surprise for the two boys, who are both racing cart and Bandelero enthusiasts.
“It wasn't easy keeping it a secret,” he said. The trip wasn't a birthday or even a Christmas present. “No, it's just because they love racing,” he added.
The boys started racing themselves a few years ago.
“They love it,” said dad, adding that the sport encourages teamwork, sportsmanship, and is just good, clean fun.
“Once we started, it was an addiction,” he said. “We have highs and lows,” he said.
One low was when Ken Jr.'s cart needed an engine. He said the sport fosters respect for one another and other drivers, and that all the young drivers competing get along great.
“It's a good, family sport,” he said.
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Larissa Mulkern may be reached at LMulkern@newstote.com.
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