Vendors ready to serve NASCAR fans this weekendBy KATHLEEN BAGLIO HUMPHREYS
Union Leader Correspondent July 10. 2014 12:00AM
LOUDON — Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be one of the biggest events of the season at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Preparations are underway to ensure there’s enough food and beverages to feed more than 90,000 mouths while vendors are bringing in souvenirs and products to offer NASCAR fans.
The speedway expects about 200,000 people to visit during Speed Week, which begins today, with more than 90,000 spectators at the Magic Mile on Sunday alone.
Tony Bedek, executive chef at NHMS, said, “It takes a lot of planning. Months out we start to plan for the two big races that come in.”
He is responsible for the Hospitality Village, luxury suites and some concession stands and receives on average two deliveries a day. Tractor-trailer trucks are filled with food.
“We’ve been doing this for a while, so have it down to a science with purchasing just enough to make it with a little bit of leftover,” added Bedek.
New items at the concession stands are Lobster Poutaine, which is fries with a lobster cream sauce topped with fresh lobster, or the New Hampshire Burger, an all-beef patty with fried clams and coleslaw.
Director of Operations Josh Davis manages the Speedway’s on-site restaurants, The Smoke Shack Southern BBQ, the Miller Lite Lobster Lounge and some concession stands, which are open from today to Sunday.
“We have 6,000 burgers, 5,000 pounds of pulled pork, 10,000 hot dogs and a lot of chicken fingers,” said Davis.
“If it’s really hot, food sales may be down, but drink sales will be up,” said Davis.
“We have staff ready to feed a hundred thousand people on Sunday,” said Davis, who hires about 150 employees.
Kitchen manager Rob Wilkinson from the Smoke Shack Southern BBQ restaurant in Boscawen was hired to work the race.
“It’s busier than you can imagine and very challenging. We are restocking the restaurant and concession stands to about 2 a.m. to prepare for the next day, with Sunday being the big show,” said Wilkinson, as he was setting up his camper for the week.
The Miller Lite Lobster Lounge does not require a race ticket to enter. “It’s a popular place with live music, food and drinks,” said Davis.
Young legs are ideal to run up and down the bleachers to sell food during the race. Eleven-year old Jack Davis will be selling popcorn on Sunday. “I sell popcorn in the stand, and I don’t mind runs up and down the stairs to costumers.” He can carry about 12 boxes at a time.
Many NASCAR fans plan their summer vacation around race weekend and camp the entire week at the speedway while other spectators will come just for the day. The speedway expects about 3,000 to 4,000 RVs to be parked at its 12,000-acre property in Loudon.
“We have plenty of camping spots. People typically reserve their RV site in advance when they order their tickets,” said Kristen Lestock, NHMS director of communications.
All those RVs require services, such as ice, water, trash removal and septic pumping. Ice is a hot commodity for the campers in July. Ernie Peidsey III from Allard Ice was cruising the rows of RVs and selling ice for $3.50 a bag to hot costumers.
“My truck holds about 600 bags of ice,” said Peidsey.
Theresa Berry was happy to have ice to make ice coffee while sitting by her RV home.
Camping World will be on hand with a large tent full of RV gear, accessories plus new and used RVs for sale.
NASCAR or race track souvenirs are a must-have for fans.
“At NHMS, people will have an opportunity to watch a boatload of exciting car races from modify cars to Nationwide Series to Cup Series, which all have souvenirs,” said Hawk.
Event merchandise will be available from the 30 souvenir trailers and the 10 official merchandise trailers on Souvenir Row.
“There will be personal appearances by some drivers to do autographs on Souvenir Row from Friday through Sunday. Visit the souvenir trailers for information or call the Speedway for times,” said Don Hawk senior VP of business affairs with Speedway Motor Sports, Inc.
“You can get everything from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Brad Keselowski gear,” added Hawk. The souvenir trucks will have hats, shirts, hoodies, polo shirts, decals bumper stickers, die-cast cars, glasswear, coolers and other memorabilia.
The speedway also has a full gift shop, selling driver and track merchandise.
Service information will be available in the parking lot. AAA Insurance will have drivers signing autographs from its booth.
Opening night for race weekend is today with many free events.