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NASCAR fans gear up with merchandise at Charlotte Motor Speedway

- sellis@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, May. 26, 2013

Fans showed up in droves to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, many more than six hours before the Coca-Cola 600 green flag waved, to gear up for a day of racing fun.

Really, they geared up.

Souvenir trailers outside the racetrack were hopping before the race, with fans by the thousands patrolling for shirts, hats, coozies and anything else to show their support for their favorite sport and drivers. Merchandise included $120 uniform jackets, $20 T-shirts and $2 stickers.

“NASCAR fans, they buy,” said Leon Hairston, a sales representative at the Danica Patrick souvenir trailer.

Whether fans were looking for a Kevin Harvick football jersey or a Joey Logano teddy bear, there’s a good chance they found it. Here are some popular souvenirs fans were buying to enhance their race day experience:

FanVision race scanners and radios

Available to rent for as low as $34.95 or purchase for as low as $149.95, scanners and radios allowed fans a more in-depth spectator experience. Fans could listen to conversations between drivers and pit crews and watch live, in-car videos from eight drivers, including Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Jacob Bann, a sales representative at a Racing Electronics trailer, said he expected to sell about 5,200 scanners and rent another 1,000 at his trailer Sunday.

“It definitely enhances your experience,” Bann said. “Anyone that rents one or gets one doesn’t want to go to the race again without one.”

‘got freedom? (thank a vet)’ T-shirts

In honor of Memorial Day weekend, Danica Patrick’s souvenir trailer was selling these shirts for $24. They were one of the day’s biggest sellers, Hairston said.

Driver T-shirts and hats

Fans gobbled up gear featuring their favorite stars.

Wayne Stinnett of Roanoke, Va., shopped with his father-in-law, son and son’s friend before the race. He said he attends two or three races a year and buys something at every one. His stash on Sunday included Denny Hamlin hats and coozies and Ryan Newman T-shirts.

“We do a guys’ weekend, but I always buy my wife and daughter something,” Stinnett said. “If I didn’t spend (money) on this, I’d spend it on beer or something else.”

‘Duck Dynasty’ gear

Hey! Look here, Jack! The popular A&E television show about the Robertson family Duck Commander business apparently shares a common fan base with NASCAR, as the show’s trailer had one of the largest crowds throughout the day of any souvenir station.

Fans bought merchandise featuring some of Uncle Si Robertson’s most memorable quotes and lined up to meet and take photos with show cast members John Godwin and Justin Martin.

Race day upgrades

For $50, fans could upgrade their tickets at the box offices to include pit passes, and another $100 bought them driver introduction and “pit party” passes.

Ellis: 704-358-5298

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