FORT WORTH, Texas – The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season officially dropped the green flag Sunday in Daytona. But 1,100 miles west of Daytona Beach, Fla., more than 300 RVs/campers and nearly 5,000 fans gathered in the Texas Motor Speedway infield for the “World’s Largest” Daytona 500 Watching Party.
Fans began arriving at Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday, staging their RVs and campers to get the best spot for in front of “Big Hoss,” the world’s largest high-definition TV at 22,698 square feet.
“We made sure we were here early to enjoy the whole weekend and just camp out, grill and take it all in,” said George Denman, a resident of Greenville, Texas. “I came to the first one of these last year and I’ll be here for every one of them in the future. This is a wonderful thing that (TMS President) Eddie Gossage and the Speedway does for their fans.”
In addition to the RVs and campers, a number of fans set up their tents for the weekend. All fans attending the completely free event weekend, were also given the chance for a ride-along in the Chevrolet Camaro pace car on track and to take part in campsite and tailgate area decoration competitions. Radio stations 95.9 The Ranch and Hank FM held promotions and live remotes from the track. There was also a special screening of the race and lunch for more than 100 members of The Speedway Club in the Grand Ballroom.
The “World’s Largest” Daytona 500 Watching Party comes just seven weeks before racing returns to Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend April 6-8.
O’Reilly Auto Parts, which features more than 5,000 locations across the country, held a hospitality event Sunday for 2,700 of its commercial business partners. The event, held in the Cup Garage in the Texas Motor Speedway infield, featured a BBQ smoker and TV’s for those wanting to watch the Daytona 500 inside rather than outside on “Big Hoss.”
“I think it’s terrific to see a title sponsor of our April race activate during a weekend like this with so many fans and prospective customers on property,” Gossage said. “It makes me feel great to have a partner like O’Reilly on board to display the same kind of passion for racing with their partners as we do with our fans.”
With Daytona 500 watching parties taking place throughout the nation in more than 20 states, the Texas Motor Speedway event is the largest. Many fans, like Karen McGwier, will stay an extra night before venturing back home. McGwier made the 5½-hour drive from Slaton, Texas, with her four children, six grandchildren, and husband Friday with plans to head back Monday.
“We wanted to come out last year, but we couldn’t, so we weren’t going to miss it this year,” said McGwier, who had never been to Texas Motor Speedway prior to this weekend. “I mean, do you really want all these people in the house trying to watch the race on TV in your living room when you can come here and watch it on a TV like (‘Big Hoss’)? It’s like you’re in Daytona; it’s just awesome.”
Fans may purchase tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 doubleheader, season tickets and camping to all of Texas Motor Speedway’s race events by calling the speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com