The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season started Sunday, Feb. 18, in Daytona Beach, Florida, but more than 1,000 miles west, more than 300 RVs/campers and nearly 5,000 fans gathered in the Texas Motor Speedway infield for the “World’s Largest” Daytona 500 Watching Party.
With Daytona 500 watching parties taking place throughout the nation in more than 20 states, the TMS event is the largest and comes just seven weeks before racing returns to TMS for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend April 6-8.
Fans began arriving at TMS on Thursday, staging their RVs, campers and tents to get the best spot for in front of “Big Hoss,” the world’s largest high-definition TV at 22,698 square feet, a news release said.
“We made sure we were here early to enjoy the whole weekend and just camp out, grill and take it all in,” George Denman, a Greenville, Texas resident, said in the release. “I came to the first one of these last year and I’ll be here for every one of them in the future. This is a wonderful thing that (TMS President) Eddie Gossage and the Speedway does for their fans.”
The free event weekend also featured the chance for a ride-along in the Chevrolet Camaro pace car on track, to take part in decoration competitions, and radio promotions from stations 95.9 The Ranch and Hank FM.
There was also a special screening of the race and lunch for more than 100 members of The Speedway Club in the Grand Ballroom.
O’Reilly Auto Parts concurrently held a hospitality event for 2,700 of its commercial business partners in the Cup Garage in the TMS infield, featuring a BBQ smoker and TV’s.
“I think it’s terrific to see a title sponsor of our April race activate during a weekend like this with so many fans and prospective customers on property,” TMS President Eddie Gossage said. “It makes me feel great to have a partner like O’Reilly on board to display the same kind of passion for racing with their partners as we do with our fans.”
Many fans, like Karen McGwier, will stay an extra night before venturing back home. McGwier made the 5½-hour drive from Slaton, Texas, with her four children, six grandchildren, and husband Friday, with plans to head back Monday.
“We wanted to come out last year, but we couldn’t, so we weren’t going to miss it this year,” McGwier said in the release. “I mean, do you really want all these people in the house trying to watch the race on TV in your living room when you can come here and watch it on a TV like ‘Big Hoss’? It’s like you’re in Daytona; it’s just awesome.”
Fans may purchase tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 doubleheader, season tickets and camping to all of Texas Motor Speedway’s race events by calling the speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.