Sun May 26, 2013
Behind The Scenes At The Charlotte Motor Speedway
Roughly 100,000 fans will pour into the Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday evening for the Coca-Cola 600.
There will also be thousands of people there who aren’t watching the race, driving a car or working in the garages. They’re the volunteers and employees who take care of everything behind the scenes.
The speedway complex is massive. It covers more than three square miles. So after a long day watching races, you might need some help finding your car. That’s where Kevin Sherrill comes in.
“Do you have a key fob?” he asked a group of fans. “Starting hitting the lock button? Ah, so we’re listening for a lock.”
Sherrill is a volunteer driving fans around on a golf cart all weekend. After the Nationwide race Saturday, he was helping a group find its truck.
“I’d say we’re here!” Sherrill said when they heard the car horn honking. The fans thanked Sherrill, and then he was off to pick up the next group.
His day job is with a manufacturer in Hickory. But he really enjoys doing this.
“We volunteer our time doing this kind of thing, driving the golf carts, and the speedway makes a donation back to our charitable organization, which is the (Alexander Central High School) girl’s fast pitch team,” Sherrill said.
There are hundreds of people zipping around on golf carts. Some are volunteers. Some are employees. And speedway spokesman Jonathan Coleman said that’s just a fraction of the staff.
“We turn into a small city, really, through the course of the weekend when we’ve got NASCAR events here in town and employ everybody from parking attendants to traffic crossing guards, anything and everything,” Coleman said.
He said there are roughly 5,000 volunteers and employees at the speedway this weekend.
Tommy Williams is one of the employees making sure firefighters and paramedics have what they need. He works out of a small building stocked with helmets and radios.
“Anything involving the safety crews, their materials come out of here,” Williams said. “Our track firemen, track EMS, pit row firemen, fire carts, med carts, all of them have to have head protection.”
This is a side gig for Williams. He’s a full-time firefighter in Charlotte and a big NASCAR fan, so he enjoys being here and making a little extra money.
Some of the non-profits can make a lot of money. The Mount Pleasant Swim Club volunteers to sell NASCAR merchandise in return for a percentage of the profits.
“Are you looking for cars?” Tina Conder from the swim club asked a child and his father. “I’ve got Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, (and) Dale Earnhardt Jr.”
Conder has done this a few years.
“And we can raise anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 a year working at these booths,” she said. “It's a lot of work, but we've done a lot of improvements to the pool this year because of the funds that we've raised out here.”
Conder said for the speedway and the people behind the scenes, it’s a win-win.