Fans line up to meet NASCAR drivers
By Sara Gregory
Fans started camping out early to meet racing up-and-comers Joey Logano and Chrissy Wallace on Friday.
“People were actually camping out when we got here at 8,” said Cordelia Anderson, the leisure and technology marketing manager for the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which hosted the autograph signing.
Logano and Wallace joined photographer Anita Rich, who signed copies of her book of NASCAR portraits. The three met with fans and signed autographs as part of National Tourism Week.
The timing of National Tourism Week and the races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway ó racers will compete in the Sprint All-Star race today ó prompted the visitors bureau to emphasize the impact of racing on the area.
“In the past we’ve focused more on celebrating industry partners,” Communications Director Judy Root said. “This year we thought it’d be nice to do something for the race fans.
“It shows the fans something special.”
The visitors bureau boasts one of 17-year-old Logano’s early racing vehicles. He will make his Nationwide Series debut May 31. Earlier this month he won the Carolina 500 in Rockingham.
“They say he’s the driver of a generation,” Root said. “Everybody has high hopes for him.”
Rich’s book, “Portraits of NASCAR,” comes after three years of photographing racers and owners at home and with their families.
Rich, who did the book with friend and former racer Robin Dallenbach, knew nothing about NASCAR when she began.
“I moved here about 10 years ago, and at night I would hear cars racing.”
As she started to learn more about NASCAR, she said she realized nothing focused on the family.
And as she photographed racing legends from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Bobby Labonte and Bill France, she said she learned about the pressures racers face and the support racing families give each other.
Wallace, who comes from a long line of racers herself, said it’s a really big deal for her to be able to meet with fans. She turned 20 Thursday and celebrated with dinner and birthday cake with her family.
A female in a male-dominated sport, Wallace said her success and Danica Patrick’s has prompted lots of parents to tell her about how they want their daughters to get into racing.
“They want their daughters to get involved because they see how well me and her are doing,” Wallace said.
And the competitive nature makes her work harder.
“If you’re a female in racing, you’ve got one shot,” she said.
Contact Sara Gregory at 704-797-4257 or sgregory @salisburypost.com.