New Hampshire Motor Speedway is key stop for drivers, fans

Photo by Alan Marler/Harold Hinson Photography

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

LOUDON, N.H. – What do half-a-million people have in common? They all attend races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway over the course of the year and this weekend NHMS is the place to be as it marks the second race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase for the Championship, as well as, the first race for the title in the Camping World Truck Series.

And making things even better, according to The Weather Channel, it will be sunny with temperatures between 65 and 82 degrees – in other words, perfect racing weather. So, there really is no excuse not to go out and watch the stars of NASCAR battle to advance for a spot in the second round of the playoffs, said David McGrath, General Manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“Most importantly, I want fans to know that the weather forecast is great for racing this weekend,” McGrath told Kickin’ the Tires, for it’s 10-race #ChasingTheChase tour.

Situated just 90-miles north of Boston, with its historic backdrop of American culture, and just south of the New England lakes region, NHMS is a magical racetrack offering great flat track action for the top drivers in a variety of motorsports – hence the name “The Magic Mile.”

“Cool things about New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where do I start,” McGrath said. “I think the coolest thing about New Hampshire, there are many, but it is the location. We are beautifully situated in Loudon, New Hampshire in a maple grove and smack dab in the middle, between Boston and the lakes region and everything is within an easy drive, so for folks to come up from the big city it’s just 90-miles. But quite frankly, we are a unique track – very low-banked, one-mile track.”

While other one-mile tracks on the NASCAR circuit are high-banked, the banking at NHMS is just 7-dgrees in the turns and almost zero on the straightaways, which has caused more than a few drivers problems in the past. However, the track has also been the catalyst for championship runs over the years, specifically that of 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart.

“We are a unique-shaped track, basically a flat track and I think that provides and produces some great racing that no driver just shows up at New Hampshire and really dominates this racetrack,” McGrath said. “Though, I will say Matt Kenseth, as of late, has shown that he knows his way around our track really, really well.”

In fact, Kenseth has won the past two NASCAR outings at The Magic Mile and before that the race was most recently won by Kyle Busch. With the Toyotas already being the dominant manufacturer in the series and Martin Truex Jr. locked-in to the second round of The Chase, New Hampshire could be the place where another Toyota team advances. But past wins by Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch shows McGrath is correct that no driver seems to have a lock on New Hampshire. Last year, Harvick dominated the fall race but ran out of fuel, handing the win over to Kenseth.

“What I think makes New Hampshire really so special is our shape and size but it does produce some great racing,” McGrath said. “It is a real position track, so where you set-up and how you set your car and strategy throughout the race certainly has a huge play throughout the race.

“It’s imperative that you perform well here. For those that just came off of a bad run at Chicagoland, they are going o have to step it up and really, really look for that winning groove. You don’t want to go into Dover with two bad Chase races and you have to win to make that next round, so now you have the chance to come into The Magic Mile and really figure out what it is going to take to dial your car in and win this race.”

No doubt New England race fans agree because McGrath said fans are already in the campgrounds waiting for the action to start – and this weekend there is a ton of it. With three races on Saturday – the UNOH 175 Camping World Truck Series, the F.W. Webb 100 Whelen Modified Series race and the Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational –the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday, plus qualifying rounds and practices, the on-track action will be nearly non-stop.

“A lot of our fans are here now. They started arriving on Saturday and they won’t leave until Sunday when the checkered flag waves,” McGrath said. “The others will start arriving about mid-week and they love to go out and explore the lakes region, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Kancamagus Highway (known for its incredible scenic views of the area’s changing foliage) and with this being the first official race of the Fall season, the leaves are starting to turn, so we will see some leaf-peepers out, as well.”

And while some fans will take in the area’s sights, there are also fans that stay at the track from the time they arrive until the last racecar leaves the track. So, Mcgrath said the track’s events department came up with an incredible activity for race fans, which allows them to see how the track prepares for a big race.

“On Wednesday, because the action doesn’t really get started until we kick things off, on Thursday, we will host these behind-the-scenes tours where we take all these folks camping here,” he said. “We will give the fans a tram tour all over the infield. We will take them onto the racing surface and they will see the crews painting the logos on the grass and getting the track in final prep. We will take them over to the main office and they get to come in and say ‘hello.’ So, they get a behind-the-scenes tour of the entire property as the crews finish up getting it ready for what will ultimately be a fantastic Sprint Cup race weekend.

15 July 2016--Jimmie Johnson during practice for the New Hampshire 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH(HHP Photo/Alan Marler)

15 July 2016–Jimmie Johnson during practice for the New Hampshire 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH(HHP Photo/Alan Marler)

“Our race fans are the best and most passionate people in the world and they just love to see anything we are doing to get this track ready for wonderful race weekend.”

McGrath said a couple of hundred fans participated in the first tour in July but the track has had to open up the availability window for this weekend because the response has been overwhelming, so the tours will run Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Now, for those fans not arriving, on Wednesday, don’t worry because New Hampshire Motor Speedway has a slate of fun things to do and see, including a fan midway area with games and other activities, great food, a go-cart track to let fans get in on the racing action and helicopter rides benefitting Speedway Children’s Charities.

Plus, Mcgrath’s team has, yet another, new way for fans to get up-close to the action on the track. They’ve moved the old Magic Mile Club from the infield and

We’ve always let fans come into the infield during Sunday morning pre-race events and they were able to get to a spot called the ‘Magic Mile Club,’ which we still have but we moved it to the outside. But then at the end of the mo I always believed there were a number of fans that wanted to stay in the infield, they want to hang out, they want to walk around and they want to see different vantage points from within the infield, so we launched this in July and the team came up with a concept of creating an elevated platform right at pit-out, standing right in Turn 1, so you get to see 40 cars coming down the frontstretch diving into Turn 1. And then it is also a hospitality area where there will be food, shade, tables, maybe some Cornhole and a couple of small games to play but there is also elevated seating to watch the action coming off of pit lane.

July 17, 2016: Lee Brice during a concert at the New Hampshire Motorspeedway in Loudon, NH. . (HHP/Andrew Coppley)

July 17, 2016: Lee Brice during a concert at the New Hampshire Motorspeedway in Loudon, NH. . (HHP/Andrew Coppley)

“One of the joys of being a mile track like we are is that our infield is considerably smaller than some of the mile-and-a-half and certainly the superspeedways, so you are a lot closer to the action, which we think is really cool and we think the fans are going to eat it up. The fan demand is there and we are just about sold out for the September race and we are excited about it, it’s a new deal the events team put together and I couldn’t be prouder of the team for coming up with some cool new concepts for our fans.”

During July’s race at NHMS, Lee Brice performed for the fans, adding a little bit of country to the northeastern vibe but this weekend, McGrath and his team ratcheted up the excitement by bringing in a legendary pre-race concert featuring 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees – Cheap Trick. With hit songs like The Flame, Surrender, I Want You to Want Me, Dream Police, Mighty Wings and many more, Cheap Trick is one of the most iconic rock bands in history and fans can see them perform on the frontstretch.

 McGrath said there are still great race tickets available for fans wanting to check out the second race in The Chase for the Championship, just call the ticket office at (603) 783-4931 or find them online at www.nhms.com/tickets or at www.nascar.com/tickets, as well.

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