Race fans boost Rowan tourism
By Sara Gregory
Race fans filled Salisbury hotels and campgrounds for the long holiday weekend.
Local hotels were booked as early as six months to a year ago by fans eager to set a little distance between themselves and the speedway.
“I can tell you that we are sold out,” said Cathy Kepley from Salisbury’s Best Western Inn. “We have no availability and 95 percent of them are race fans.”
Prices can push many to stay farther from the races and make the drive to Concord.
“Typically we’re a little cheaper than those that are right close to the racetrack,” said Hampton Inn General Manager Krista Osterweil.
Even with high gas prices and the longer drive, some say they’re still saving money by staying in Salisbury.
Rose and Ray Byers brought their RV from Richmond, Va. to stay for the two weeks at Dan Nicholas Park.
“It’s a whole lot cheaper,” Rose Byers said. “Even with the gas, we’re still saving money.”
Alice Koontz, who works at the park’s campground, said the 70 campsites and 6 cabins are booked solid.
“The phone is just off the roof,” she said.
Ray Byers said he likes the privacy of the campground compared to places closer to the racetrack.
“It’s quiet,” he said.
The Byerses will make the drive to Concord about six times during their two weeks. The rest of the time, they’ll relax at the campground.
Salisbury is a popular spot for visitors, said Lesley Tullium, director of operations for the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority.
“They like Salisbury’s downtown,” she said. “We hear a lot of, ‘We love this little downtown. It’s so different.'”
Tullium said that hotel occupancy figures spike in spring and fall when the races are taking place.
“A lot of people like being out a little bit away from that traffic,” she said.
Visitors who come for the races generate revenue throughout the county, Tullium said.
Guests spend money in local gas stations, restaurants and stores. And many look for day trips during the week. In the past, Rose and Ray Byers have visited Childress Vineyards in Lexington.
“They’ll come here to stay for the race but they might travel to see something else new,” Tullium said. “It really benefits our whole region.”
Contact Sara Gregory at 704-797-4257 or email@example.com.