LOUDON, N.H. (AP) - NASCAR fans have mixed reactions to a new camping fee for New Hampshire International Speedway's NASCAR races. Racing fans
previously could park recreational vehicles on the track's 1,000-acre property at no charge, but this year were required to pay $100 in advance or
$125 at the gate.
Busch Series and Nextel Cup races are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the speedway, and track spokesman Ron Meade said about 1,700 RVs already
have arrived. Some fans called the new camping fee too high.
"You go from nothing to $100,"
said Bev Dion of Warwick, R.I. "That's steep."
She said she has traveled to Dover International Speedway as well as New Hampshire to attend races. She said the fee didn't compare well with rates at
"I think they really need to look at giving you more space,"
She said some new RVs are too wide for the track's allotted sections. Andrew Davies of Enfield, Conn., also said the spaces were too small to
accommodate campers who towed cars. Track officials changed the fee policy after being overwhelmed by more than 8,000 large vehicles last year. Meade
said about 5,000 fans had arranged for RV parking in advance for this weekend.
"We were hopeful that charging a fee would give people a second thought about bringing their mobile homes,"
Meade said. "Because car parking
is still free."
Not all tracks charge camping fees. Some RV parking is free at South Carolina's Darlington Raceway. But fees at other tracks can more than double New
Hampshire's. Davies called the new fees reasonable, given campground improvements. They include new lighting and other upgrades. He said if speedway
owner Bob Bahre uses this year's fees for more improvements, then fans' money will have been well spent.
"If he keeps on doing that, I don't care,"
He said he has visited several tracks along the East Coast to attend races. He said RV owners would particularly appreciate utility hookups in New
Hampshire. Fans also weren't able to reserve specific spaces. Dion called the policy a problem for friends and relatives who hoped to camp near each
Sandy Hayes of Bennington, Vt., said the new fee makes trips to the track more difficult for families living on fixed incomes. She said she has missed
only one major race at the speedway in 11 years, and enjoys socializing with other fans who regularly attend.
"This has hurt a lot of people,"
she said. "They just can't afford to come now, that's all."
[Edited on 20/7/04 by TRD]