News & Media


Acceleration Weekend a celebration of NASCAR

January 11, 2012, Rick Houston, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR Preview will be part of Acceleration Weekend around Hall inductions

Once upon a time in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Winston Cup Preview was the place to be for those who had followed the sport year after year, decade after decade.

Held every January, the Preview was NASCAR's version of spring training, where fans got to shake off the winter doldrums by meeting fresh-faced up-and-coming drivers and veterans alike. They were able to pass their opinions on show cars decked out with new paint schemes for the season. They lined up hours early for a chance at scoring an autograph from their favorite drivers, and maybe even to swap a story or two. It was one of the most anticipated fan-oriented events of the season, bar none.

" The Preview was always special, with drivers coming in, signing autographs and hanging out with the fans."

--DARRELL WALTRIP

The Preview is back.

The NASCAR Acceleration Weekend, a three-day extravaganza, was announced Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Celebrating the sport's past, the exclusive Hall induction dinner and ceremony are set for Jan. 20. The following day, the NASCAR Preview will focus on its present, with drivers from all three national touring divisions on hand for autograph and Q&A sessions. Finally, on Jan. 22, exhibits honoring the 2012 class of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees will be unveiled.

Limited VIP packages -- which include a ticket to the Hall of Fame dinner and jacket presentation, a seat at the induction ceremony, annual membership, admission to an early look at the new inductee exhibits and a ticket to the NASCAR Preview 2012 -- are available for $299. Other ticket options are available as well, ranging from $40 for general admission to $75 for premium access.

"To say that we're extremely excited about our NASCAR Acceleration Weekend is an incredible understatement," said Winston Kelley, executive director of the Hall. "Providing the opportunity to connect our history with our present, to enhance the hospitality industry here in Charlotte, was part of the vision that NASCAR and the folks in Charlotte had as far back as 2005. Even when we were recruiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the concept of bringing these two together had come up."

On hand for the announcement were the four living members of next year's class -- Darrell Waltrip, Dale Inman, Glen Wood and Cale Yarborough. A fifth honoree, Modified legend Richie Evans, passed away in 1985. As always, Waltrip was far from being at a loss for words.

"Having the fan experience here with the induction, I think, is a great idea," Waltrip said. "It's so reminiscent of other things we've done in the past. The thing you take away from that is that you get to see everything first. If a guy's got a new sponsor, a new team or a new driver, owner, whatever, the Preview always gave you an opportunity to be able to see that before anybody else did. The Preview was always special, with drivers coming in, signing autographs and hanging out with the fans."

Waltrip says that Charlotte's Hall holds an honor for race fans, adding that the Acceleration Weekend will give the sport a unique opportunity to give back to those in the grandstands and watching at home on television.

"That was a fan experience with a race, rather than a race and then a [separate] fan experience," Waltrip said of the inaugural all-star race at Charlotte. "The Hall of Fame should be a destination. This should be a place where you always want to end up. I know it is for me. It's been a long journey, but this is where you wanted to end up."

Asked if he had any special memories of Winston-Salem's version of the Preview, if there had been any unusual interactions with fans there, Waltrip grinned that sly grin of his.

"The amount of people that always showed up to that was always impressive to me," said Waltrip, appearing to measure his words a bit. "It was a real show. Weird things to sign or weird things that people did ... I have thousands of memories of that, probably none that we should discuss here today, because people have had a lot of weird things to be signed over the years.

"I just think the experience, that kicks the season off. A lot of people can't make it to Daytona. A lot of people can maybe only watch it on TV. To be able to have it right here in Charlotte, I think it's going to bring in a lot of folks that will be able to see what the season getting ready to start is going to look like."

NASCAR Acceleration Weekend, from Jan. 20-22, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C., gives race fans an unprecedented experience through a combination of events and activities featuring the legends of the sport and stars of today. Events for the weekend include the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony, NASCAR Preview 2012 presented by Sprint, and the unveiling of the Class of 2012 exhibits at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Saturday's NASCAR Preview 2012 event will feature driver and show car appearances, simulators, games, prizes, and a host of other fan-friendly and interactive activities. Various ticket packages are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Visit NASCARAcceleration2012.com for more information.