- Mostly cloudy
SPARTA, Ky - The threat of rain did not steer people away from was turned out to be a celebration of what's to come for NASCAR fans at the Kentucky Speedway.
The food, the live country music, and the tours are what made it Ford Fan Day in Sparta, Ky., Saturday afternoon.
The enthusiastic 6-year-old, Blake Stephan, of Vevay, Ind., said with all smiles that he had a great time. With a blue ring around his mouth from cotton candy, he was a man of few words.
For many fans, it was a relief to see the changes after last summer's Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup Race.
It was estimated about 14,000 fans didn't get to see the inaugural race because of the massive traffic jams on I-71's exit 57 to KY 35, where the speedway is located.
Anna Adkins of Piqua, Ohio, said that she remembers walking two miles, making it just in time to see the race.
"It was a long wait in the car on the road. We had to park on the side of the road and we walked for a long time. I was really glad to get here and when we did, we got to see Kyle Busch win, which was awesome."
Fans were given the chance to walk the track, and take trolleys checking out some upgrades, like a pedestrian tunnel crossing KY 35 from its expanded parking.
"A lot of the parking area, especially over back that way, I mean, they've done a lot of that and then I was just in a meeting with the general manager and he said they've hired a completely new parking staff so that's going to help a lot and a lot more uniformed police officers," said Mark Wallaceof Williamstown, Ky.
Guests were also invited to be tour the garages, media center, grandstands, press box, owner's suite, spotters' stand, campgrounds and a new tunnel that connects the original speedway property to expansive new parking fields.
In addition to Legends racing, highlighted activities include the chance to take a Victory Lane photo with the speedway's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series "Quaker State 400" trophy.
And Raceway Ministries organized children's activities such as face painting, changing tiny tires from a fake car like a pit crew and eating freshly made popcorn and cotton candy which permeated the speedway's atmosphere just underneath the grandstands.
But it's the racing that they'll come back for.
"Easy access and good side-by-side racing is what it means to me," said Wallace about the changes to the speedway.
Tickets, daily infield Fan Zone passes and campsites for the speedway's June weekend and Sept. 21-22 doubleheader NASCAR weekend are available online at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com, by phone at (859) 578-2300 and through the speedway corporate office at 1 Speedway Drive in Sparta, Ky., 41086, just off I-71, exit 57 and KY 35.
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