By Michael Davis
Even though Sunday was a washout, and Monday was overcast, thousands of race fans returned to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the continuation of the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500.
A crowd estimated at nearly 70,000 fans turned up Monday to see the finish of the race that was called for rain on Sunday after just 39 laps. But fans that had to go back to work on Monday out of luck.
"Tickets are non-refundable," said Angela Revell, a spokeswoman for Atlanta Motor Speedway. "It's unfortunate for those fans that had to leave. I know there were people hoping we could have a night race, but it was just too late."
Having been up and primed for the race since 7 a.m. Sunday, she said, both weary drivers and rain-soaked fans were denied the finish of the race by rainstorms.
She said racetrack personnel did the best they could to dry the track but as showers started around 6 p.m., they knew it was going to be the end of the day. And as an 8:30 p.m. shower started, track officials knew they had done the right thing by calling it off.
"Just about the time we would've got the track dry from the 6 o'clock downpour, it started to rain again," said Revell. "Then it would've taken another three hours to dry the track and it would be 11 o'clock by the time it started again."
Revell said AMS has long encouraged people to plan trips with an extra day to allow for the possibility of rain.
But most race fans showed up for the race in spite of it being held on a weekday.
George Mazzant, the owner of two pawn and gun shops in McDonough and Riverdale, said Monday that he closed down his Riverdale location so its three employees could go to the race.
"I had bought them the tickets," he said. "I just kind of felt bad it got rained out and they had stayed until 8 o'clock. hey're going to have to work six or seven days a week until Christmas, so I figured I'd let them go."
Hampton Police Chief Bud Smith said more race traffic returned to Hampton than he had anticipated.
"There's a pile coming in," he said shortly before noon Monday.
One convenience store owner in Hampton said he was happy to see a sales increase for one more day.
"Since it was extended, we have had one extra day of good business," said Jim Ismail. "And the people that came, they all behaved so nicely. The race is always a blessing."