Several hundred race fans in attendance for tonight’s Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race took part in this afternoon’s Ultimate Fan Track Walk benefitting Speedway Children’s Charities and The Dale Jr. Foundation.
Fans were able to walk around the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway and get an up close and different perspective of racing over the high banks. There were fans of all ages from many different states. Also, many handicapped race fans were able to get a view of the speedway that normally would not be possible. Also on hand to meet race fans were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Several fans spoke about their experience of actually getting on the race track and getting a real feel of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Steve Barley and his companion Sandie, both from Georgia, were excited about the view. “I’m loving it. I’m hooked,” said Steve, who is making his first visit to Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We just bought a new motorhome and decided to make Charlotte our first trip for a race. We’re loving this. I’m amazed at how many people are here. I think this is great and love seeing this right here. I am just in awe of everything. This is well worth the money.”
“You don’t realize how high the banking is,” said Sandie. “It really looks different seeing it from down here.”
Another fan on hand was Lisa Knapp of West Palm Beach, Fla., who toured the track in her wheelchair with her service dog Montgomery. Knapp explained that she became a true fan following the passing of Dale Earnhardt. “I did this to get a different perspective,” said Knapp. “That’s why I wanted to do it. I wanted to get the experience. Everyone has been so helpful and kind in me getting around and on the track and helping to take care of Montgomery. I have been a fan and followed this sport and wanted to do something different. It really is a dream come true for me.”
There were many kids taking part in the walk – among them were Kent Bender and his young son Brock from Canton, Ohio. Kent has been a NASCAR fan and attending the races at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the past 11 years. “This is cool,” said Kent, who walked the banking for the first time. “We decided to try the walk to do that. This is Brock’s first race, and he is enjoying it. It’s a great way to get up close and get a feel for the race. I did the Richard Petty ride-along program and decided to come here to see the race and have been coming since.” Both Kent and Brock are big Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans.
One couple in attendance was Mike and Sue Starykowicz from Long Grove, Ill. This is their 10th year of visiting the speedway. “There is no better place to be,” said Mike. “This is fantastic. It’s a nice way to see the track and support a good cause, too.”
“We have enjoyed all of the little activities here,” said Sue. “We like the whole experience, like the Fan Zone and the manufacturers area. We like to support the ones who support the teams. This has been the most fan-friendly track we have been to, not just for the race but the whole experience.”
Among the families taking part are the Paschle family from New Jersey. The four family members are big Jimmie Johnson fans. Dad Dave, mom Lisa, along with kids Carlie and Dave Jr., were all making the walk and decked out in their race day attire. Dave Sr. has been a fan since he was a kid in the 1970s. “This is nice for the kids,” said Dave Sr. “It gives them more of an appreciation for the race and to see what it really looks like.”
“I think things like this are great,” said Lisa. “NASCAR has done a lot more for the fans than other sports. This is a nice way to stay in more touch with the fans. Of course, Carlie and Dave Jr. were enjoying the experience and thought it was a lot of fun.”
The walk has become a tradition at Charlotte Motor Speedway and other Speedway Motorsports Inc. facilities as a way to support Speedway Children’s Charities and children across the country.