News & Media

No news is good news at All-Star announcement

March 23, 2011, Joe Menzer,

Charlotte SpeedFest activities include autograph sessions, team shop tours

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Almost without fail in years past, officials from Charlotte Motor Speedway presided over a news conference around this time of year to announce changes to the upcoming NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

This year, they held the news conference with one catch. There was no news.

Oh, CMS president and general manager Marcus Smith did announce that Grammy-nominated country-music star Dierks Bentley would perform a pre-race concert prior to the main event May 21.

But when it came time to tell everyone what was going to be up for the action on the track, Smith admitted, well, that he had nothing. There are no new rules, no new gimmicks for an event that has tried numerous different tacks in the past to grab the attention of fans.

"Every year we announce some great change to the All-Star Race that makes it even better, even more exciting," Smith said. "With the race we had last year and the year before that, the big change is that there's not going to be a change. We decided to leave it like it is.

"We're going leave well enough alone and let the guys get out there and go for it -- go for the money without worrying about points. I think the fans are really going to enjoy it."

Smith is counting on fans also enjoying this Saturday's Charlotte SpeedFest presented by 3M. The fan appreciation day will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at not only Charlotte Motor Speedway but also with festivities at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and at the Charlotte-area racing shops of Roush Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

Several autograph sessions will take place at the CMS ticket office during the event, including motorsports artist Sam Bass from 10 a.m. from 12:45 p.m.; former driver and current television analyst Kyle Petty from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.; and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Spokesman Scott Cooper of CMS said fans attending SpeedFest also will be able to take advantage of special ticket offers for the track's upcoming races that will be available only this Saturday. Cooper also said there will be free shuttles available to and from CMS and the Hall of Fame, plus all participating race shops.

Each venue will offer a variety of tours and/or family based activities and discounts at their gift shops. Several will offer discounted or free rides in race simulators. Fans can check the CMS Web site for all the details.

Meanwhile, fans can rest easy that there are no new rules to learn for this year's All-Star Race. That sits just fine with Kasey Kahne, who made the field by a fan vote and then won the event and the $1 million prize that went along with the winning trophy in 2008.

Charlotte SpeedFest

Autograph appearances (all times ET)
• Motorsports artist Sam Bass: 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
• Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon: 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
• SPEED personality Kyle Petty: 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
• Miss Sprint Cup Paige Duke: Noon to 2:45 p.m.
• SPEED personality Randy Pemberton: 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
• NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson: 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
• Roush Fenway Racing: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 15 percent discounts on all 2011 merchandise, plus a free 3D-gaming show car simulator display.
• Hendrick Motorsports: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. An interactive racing simulator will be available, plus 15 percent discounts on all regularly priced merchandise and a free Jimmie Johnson team championship hat with purchases of $50 or more.
• Joe Gibbs Racing: Noon to 2 p.m. 20 percent merchandise discounts.
• Earnhardt Ganassi Racing: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Show car and trophy displays will be available, plus fans will get a free Jamie McMurray 2010 Daytona 500 victory poster with a $25 purchase and a free McMurray Daytona 500 victory hat with a $50 purchase.
• Stewart-Haas Racing: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 20 percent discounts on all merchandise in the gift shop, excluding sheet metal, plus fans can get a free team shop shirt with the purchase of $50 or more.
• Free tours of Charlotte Motor Speedway and zMAX Dragway and free shuttles to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Roush Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and the Sam Bass Gallery.
• Free vouchers for NASCAR Hall of Fame simulator rides available at the speedway ticket office.
• Free tours and behind-the-microphone photo opportunities in the Performance Racing Network studios.
• Free video game entertainment with the Coca-Cola Fan Van.
• Activities for the kids including the Powerade Play Zone with inflatable slides and bounce houses, a petting zoo, face painting and appearances by Lug Nut, the world's fastest mascot.
• Affordable concessions plus free popcorn in the speedway ticket office.
• Live music on the Avenue of Flags at the speedway's main entrance.

"To make it by the fans' vote and start in the back and actually win the race, to make all the right adjustments, was pretty awesome," Kahne said. "I think one of the best things about the All-Star Race is you don't have to worry about points. Every race in the Sprint Cup Series, there is so much emphasis on points and making the Chase, that's where everybody wants to be. But at the All-Star Race, you can just go all out to try to win the race and put on a great show for the fans without worrying about all that."

Along with the VIP appearances, fans attending Charlotte SpeedFest can take advantage of special Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket offers available only on Saturday. The first 30 fans who make qualifying premium ticket package purchases will receive a free Richard Petty Driving Experience track ride. Also, fans who purchase $150 in tickets can race their personal vehicle down zMAX Dragway, receive a free one-night hotel stay and a free piece of Sam Bass Racing Art.

Tickets for all Spring Season of Speed events at Charlotte Motor Speedway are on sale now. Frontstretch tickets with the best views of pit road and the world's largest HD video board, coming to the speedway in May, start at just $49 for the All-Star Race or two for just $99 to the Coca-Cola 600. For more information, call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or go online at