Dover is filling up with fans as they get ready to converge on the Monster Mile for a weekend full of entertainment, driver sightings and racing.This fall’s event is a reminder of what makes the sport exciting as well as what makes the Speedway a unique venue.
The grounds around Dover International Speedway are filling up with campers and RVs, and villages of white tents pop up daily, which means it must be race weekend.
This fall’s event is a reminder of what makes the sport exciting as well as what makes the Speedway a unique venue.
Off track, the track is unique for its 46-foot-tall Miles the Monster, its FanZone full of events for adults and children, and for the casino. As of now, there is no other NASCAR track that has a full-service casino on the property, according to Gary Camp, senior director of communications.
For fans who know their NASCAR, though, Dover’s autumn race has special importance because of its place in the season. Sunday’s race is the third in the Chase for the Sprint Cup schedule, which has drivers battling on the track in the season’s home stretch.
“There’s just an added level of excitement, race fans now really understand how important the Chase is,” Camp said.
Some of those high up in the Chase standings – including No. 2 Kevin Harvick and No. 5 Jeff Gordon – will be making free appearances in and around Dover during the weekend.
For drivers, the excitement is in driving the Monster Mile.
“Drivers will tell you that the sensation of speed here is different than any other track,” Camp said.
For many fans, the most lasting impression of the track was the one made Sept. 23, 2001, when the Monster Mile hosted the largest gathering of people since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Camp said he still gets emails and calls from fans who say that was their most memorable NASCAR event — not just at Dover, but at any track.
On Sept. 23, 2001, fans cheered for the “U-S-A,” not any driver in particular, and Kenny Schrader’s No. 36 M&M’s Pontiac abandoned its sponsor decals and instead was painted as an American flag.
Although the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 is now passed, the track will pay homage to first responders on and off track.
About 2,000 guests from the National Fallen Firefighters Association and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund will be on hand for the festivities. First responders will get a moment in the spotlight on Sunday, too, when the top 10 drivers are introduced to the crowd along with five firefighters and police officers.
Actress and singer Melora Hardin will cap off the patriotic start to Sunday’s race with the national anthem.