Stafford Springs, CT — The CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party is a Stafford Speedway tradition that has spanned the better part of two decades, with the first CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party taking place during CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend on September 30, 1990. The CARQUEST Belts and Hose Pit Party tradition will continue at Stafford on Sunday, May 1st as part of the 40th Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler pre-race festivities.
That 1990 CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend was the first time that a pit party was held at a weekly NASCAR track as part of the pre-race festivities. As the CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party has gained in popularity, the concept has spread to other area tracks and today is a mainstay in allowing race fans unique access to their favorite drivers and cars. Chris Kopec, Dan Avery, and Tom Bolles, who were each on hand for that Inaugural CARQUEST Betls & Hose Pit Party at Stafford, share their thoughts and memories of that first Pit Party and how it has grown into the event it is today.
“What I remember the most is being at the Pit Party with the Modified Tour car,” said Chris Kopec. “In the past we had done autograph sessions and things like that, but the Pit Party was a whole new way for drivers to be able to interact with the fans. No one had ever done anything like the Pit Party. I remember wondering how that first pit party was going to go because normally on race day you don’t get to meet the people who are in the grandstands. Once the Pit Party concept got going and became popular, the fans started showing up early just to be part of the Pit Party and see the cars and drivers up close. The coolest part was seeing kids getting close to the cars and the drivers. Over the years, it’s become a great event. I don’t think you ever see anyone going back to the grandstands empty handed with all the different things that drivers are handing out now.”
“I don’t recall ever taking part in a pit party before that Fall Final at Stafford,” said Dan Avery. “From the very beginning, the Pit Party was very well received by the race fans, kids in particular. As the years have gone by, I think you’ve seen teams expand their level of interaction with the fans with candy, hero cards, and souvenirs to hand out. The fans really seem to get a kick out of the Pit Party and it’s fun for the drivers as well to see the fans.”.
“It’s always fun to be able to see the level of excitement on the fans’ faces during the Pit Party, especially the kids,” said Tom Bolles. “As much fun as it is for the fans, it’s also fun for the drivers to see and talk with the fans. I’ve been involved in pit parties with pretty much every type of car, whether it be SK Modified®, Busch North, or the Whelen Modified Tour, and it’s a great way for the fans to be able to get up close and personal with the cars and the drivers. The Pit Parties are a lot of fun with the giveaways the drivers have for the fans, and it’s definitely grown over the years.”
“It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” said Mark Arute, Stafford Speedway COO/GM. “We have seen the pit party become prevalent at many of the New England race tracks and we take pride in being the first track to offer our fans the pit party experience. Thanks to the support of CARQUEST Belts and Hose, we are able to continue to bring our race fans the opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite drivers and cars.”
CARQUEST Belts & Hoses are top quality products produced by Gates, the world’s leading manufacturer and aftermarket supplier, covering both domestic and import vehicles. Many of these products are the same as those specified by OEM’s around the world. The Gates Corporation has been recognized as one of the leading manufacturers of automotive power transmission products.
CARQUEST is a recognized market leader in automotive and heavy-duty application coverage and known for first-to-market status. CARQUEST Belts & Hose customers can rely on the most complete coverage for the majority of today’s passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs. CARQUEST Micro-V® Serpentine Belts offer the latest technology in V-ribbed belt design and construction. These products are available at your local CARQUEST Auto Parts store. To find the CARQUEST Auto Parts store closest to you, please visit www.carquest.com/store_locator.html.
The CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party will be held on Sunday, May 1st as part of the 40th annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST from 11am-noon. Tickets for “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are now on sale at the Stafford Motor Speedway box office. Tickets are priced at $35.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, $38.00 for reserved seats, and free for children ages 5 & under. Tickets are good for admission to the Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1 portions of the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler, with the Friday, April 29 practice session open the public free of charge. The CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party is open to all CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler ticket holders.
For more information about CARQUEST Auto Parts Stores or Tech-Net Professional Auto Service, go to www.CARQUEST.com. For more information about Gates Corporation and its products, go to www.gates.com.
Sources: Scott Running/Stafford Motor Speedway PR