Race Fest to Kick Off NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Weekend in Downtown Mansfield As has become tradition during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series annual visit to Mansfield, the Ohio 250 weekend will kick off on Thursday afternoon with the ...
Race Fest to Kick Off NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Weekend in Downtown Mansfield
As has become tradition during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series annual visit to Mansfield, the Ohio 250 weekend will kick off on Thursday afternoon with the annual Race Fest in the heart of downtown. The event will include many motorsports-themed attractions and activities with the popular transporter parade featuring all the big rigs that carry the participating teams' equipment the center of attention.
The parade route will carry the transporters from the Sears parking lot at Richland Mall down Park Avenue West to their staging area between Diamond and Mulberry. The rigs parked between Diamond and Main will be open for tours with race trucks backed on to the liftgate for display.
"It's one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed," said MMP public relations manager Charles Krall. "I rode up front last year and looked behind us as we were climbing a hill there on Park Avenue and saw all 36 transporters behind us nose to tail. I've seen a lot of really amazing things on the racetrack all over the country but that really was a breathtaking sight. The teams really respond to it and the transport drivers love it. For once, they are the show. Most people don't realize just how much work those guys do, and this is a great reward for them. Finally the spotlight is on them, if only for one night."
After the rigs get parked, the attention turns to the gazebo area as several Craftsman Truck Series drivers will sign autographs starting at 6 P.M.
"The one thing I always hear from the drivers is that they are amazed at how devoted the fans are here to the Truck Series," Krall said. "Every other place the series goes either has a Sprint Cup race or a Nationwide Series race or both. In Mansfield, the Trucks take top billing all season long. It really seems to fit this community well. The residents follow it like residents of Darlington or Martinsville follow Cup racing. It's a big deal here."
Once the formal autograph session is over, the drivers will take part in a Q&A session at 7 P.M. Race fans will have a chance to talk directly to the drivers, an opportunity that fans only have at a couple of other locations on the schedule.
"I know they do a Q&A down in Daytona during pre-season testing, and they might have similar events a couple other times throughout the year but we're trying to build the Mansfield race into the biggest stand-alone event of the year. We're trying to add something every year to keep the event fresh and add excitement for everyone involved. Having a chance to get up and ask Dennis Setzer how he saved all that fuel in last year's race or talking to Ron Hornaday and asking him about his championship season last year, that's something the average race fan doesn't get to do very often."
Another unique event that fans can watch and even participate in is the Women's Auxiliary cook-off that will take place in the square during Race Fest. A small group of drivers will prepare a complete meal on the grill and then have their work judged by a select panel of racing personalities. Once the winner is announced, fans will have a chance to bid on the opportunity to sit down and eat that meal with the driver, with all proceeds from the auction going to the Women's Auxiliary.
Other race vehicles that will compete at Mansfield Motorsports Park throughout the 2008 racing season will be on display on Main Street. Fans will have a chance to see NASCAR Craftsman Trucks, Camping World East Series cars, ASA Late Models, USAR Hooters Pro Cup cars, and ISMA supermodifieds up close and personal. Additionally, there will be inflatables on hand for young children and families, live music throughout the night, and many vendors selling food, drink, and all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs.
Tickets for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ohio 250 start at $35 and are now on sale via the track website, www.mansfieldmotorsportsonline.com. Fans can also call the track ticket office at (419) 525-RACE (7223), or visit the speedway office at 100 Crall Road.