0

NASCAR race fans fill area hotels

Photo by Johnny Jackson
Jimmy Howell, of the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Team, completes his breakfast Friday morning at a local hotel. Howell said the Atlanta Motor Speedway is a favorite, fast track among drivers because of its sweeping turns.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Jimmy Howell, of the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Team, completes his breakfast Friday morning at a local hotel. Howell said the Atlanta Motor Speedway is a favorite, fast track among drivers because of its sweeping turns.

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Area hotels have been busy lately accommodating guests for one of the largest sporting events in the Southeast.

Tens of thousands of motor sports fans are expected to attend racing events this Labor Day Weekend, which will culminate with Sunday night's Emory Healthcare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton.

"It's one of our biggest events," said Helen House, general manager of Best Western McDonough Inn and Suites, located some 12 miles east of the Speedway.

House noted the Speedway and its annual NASCAR-sanctioned races attract more visitors over a single weekend than do the winter holidays at the inn. She said the winter holiday season brings in the second largest volume of guests for the inn during the year.

The inn, she said, is a smaller lodging property compared to others in the region. It has 65 rooms, which were filled by Thursday, by race fans and a couple of NASCAR teams.

Rooms filled up at a slower pace in Griffin, according to Bob Patel, owner of Days Inn Griffin and Scottish Inn Griffin. Race fans and NASCAR teams represent a large portion of his clientele this time of year.

Patel, who has been in business since 1996, said there are 100 rooms between his two inns. He said the inns have experienced decreased patronage in recent years, as race traffic has tended to frequent the Interstate 75, and the widened Bruton Smith Parkway/Ga. Highway 20 corridors.

The inn proprietor said the Atlanta Motor Speedway -- just six miles north of his inns --has provided him consistent business, with the various motor sports enthusiasts returning to town to take part in different events hosted at the speedway.

"It's keeping steady," said Erandy Cooper, front desk manager of Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Stockbridge, roughly 30 miles north of the Speedway.

Cooper said the hotel, which opened about three years ago, is one of the larger, full-service hotels in the area, with 112 rooms. She said the hotel was busy, Thursday, with NASCAR race fans and teams.

"We have a couple of teams staying," Cooper said. "When they do come, it's an exciting moment, even though I'm not a big [race] fan. We can see the fans coming out and enjoy the time that they spend here."