Doris Meneses sits by the start/finish line at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Photo by Chris Green
I couldn’t spell NASCAR a few short weeks ago. Now, I feel like I could drive in a race. Well, not really, but since I first wrote about our race track, I’ve learned a lot. Homestead/Florida City are home to the biggest auto race of the season.
Last year, the championship that included a number of drivers in multi-million dollar race cars with mega-million dollar sponsors that went down to the final lap at our race track to see who was the grand champion.
Now, I don’t know about all of you, but that is awesome.
I wrote that I really didn’t know what went on ‘out there.’ I really still don’t, but since my column first appeared, the track bosses have made me feel welcome and I am looking forward to the weekend of November 16th-18th (almost) as much as the arrival of my grandbaby next month. I said almost.
What I do know is this area used to get all fired up about the races. I didn’t understand it then either. Many of my friends and I have said we didn’t understand how that ‘buzz’ was gone.
What the News Leader and my ‘Speedway Boys’ are trying to do is bring some of that ‘buzz’ back. Heck, I’ve even been reading “NASCAR for Dummies.”
This old lady who knows nothing about NASCAR presented ideas to the Speedway management and the News Leader that have evolved into a full-blown campaign to educate and involve the community through students, businesses and residents.
The first thought was to involve our kids.
We’ll educate students in grades 3 through 8 as to the beautiful facility where the championship race is held is in their own backyard. School children from SW 152 Street to Key Largo are eligible to participate. Grades 3 through 5 will draw race cars using any medium, while grades 6 through 8 are writing 400 word essays describing what they think it would feel like to drive a NASCAR race car.
Dr. Larry Feldman, School Board Member and representative from District 9, has been extremely supportive of the effort and local teachers and principals are excited.
One boy and girl winner on each grade level will be selected. They will receive two tickets to the races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and will be recognized publicly at the Speedway at Saturday’s race. The Speedway will also display the students’ winning entries in a public area during race weekend.
And are you ready for this - one young grand prize winner will be picked up at their home and driven to school in the Speedway pace car. How exciting is that.
My second thought was how can we get businesses and their customers involved?
Local businesses who participate, will display a special South Dade News Leader/Homestead-Miami Speedway banner. Restaurants might randomly place a decal on plates during the day and that person will be the winner of Championship Sunday tickets. Other retail businesses will be selecting random customers as they walk through the door. Each winner will receive 2 tickets to the feature race on Sunday.
Are you ready for this - the business owners who participate will be entered into a lottery and the winner will be escorted into the winner’s circle at the end of Sunday’s race. You can’t buy your way into the winner’s circle, but our contest winner can get in.
The final idea is to educate and involve the local residents.
Where I’m from up north, homes are decorated with checkered flags, banners, ribbons, etc. supporting their favorite driver or just NASCAR. If you are a fan, show your colors and maybe win tickets. Pull out all your artistic talents and decorate your front porch, doors, windows, yard or whatever in support of NASCAR. Welcome the fans to our city. Let us know your address and we will send a photographer by and we’ll pick a winner from among those that call us.
Let’s all get in this together. Let’s bring out that old welcome mat. This race brings in millions of dollars into our area and we need to let the thousands of visitors know they are welcome and appreciated.
And if you’re worried about hanging banners at your business (we heard right away that the City of Homestead would charge big bucks for those that wanted to hang the race banner), I can proudly say that all it took was for this old gal to appear in front of City Council and they unanimously voted to waive the fees and said this is a great idea that they give their full support.
Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace said the same thing.
So if you own a business in the area and want to participate, just call the News Leader office and we’ll take care of the rest. It is limited so call today.
People come from all over the United States to attend our race. There is a lot of negative press about the “Miami” area and the way visitors are treated and that is why we all need to “get the welcome mat out of the shed, dust it off and display it proudly.”
Homeowners, businesses or schools can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the News Leader office at 305-245-2311 for more information.
Ladies and gentlemen of South Dade, let’s get ready to start our engines.
Editor’s Note: To help bring the ‘NASCAR Buzz’ back we asked Doris to explain how she is getting ready for Ford Championship Weekend and the contests the News Leader will be hosting.