Fans mingle, party ahead of 'Great American Race'

FOX 35 News at 10 p.m.

- While the trucks and cars are tearing up the track this weekend, the fans are lighting up the infield with big celebrations.  This is a tale of two party cities inside the Daytona International Speedway.

Welcome to tent city, near turn three at the Speedway.  It’s a place to strum a guitar or sign a trailer.   "Little E" fans sign are in one place, and everyone else's signs outside the Big 88.  Justin Barnett brought his family from Iowa to camp here.  Barnett says, “I love racing at Daytona.  I’ve been watching it my whole life, and it’s the biggest race of the year.”

Next tent over, you’ll find Waymen Kirby and Eric Hunt cooking up barbecue and enjoying a camp fire. 
Kirby says, “Everybody else in those RV’s and stuff, they can watch it on TV, but we want to get out here in the depth of things and get it live.”  Hunt adds, “It’s a tradition we’ve been doing for almost eighteen years. I mean I just cannot enjoy this place any more than I have.  It’s such a spectacle. It’s such a good time over here.”

Surrounded by flags and tents, we made our way over to the East 33 Tailgate Headquarters.   This is tent city partying with some south Florida flare. The host of these five party tents is Lincoln Hirvela.  He says, “It was kind of like Miami coming into the track here man.  We come here and we come hard.”

Roll down the other side of the infield and you’ll reach RV Row, where people party all night.  You can check out Red 38, the hottest spot on wheels.  There are big screens for watching, cold drinks for slaking, and entertainment for chilling.   Bill Fenton has been hosting this bash for nine years. Fenton says, “NASCAR fans are the best.  We’ve met people from Key West, Florida to all parts of Canada and in between.”

Fans on the infield are spending the weekend watching the races and talking about great memories at Daytona, the birthplace of their favorite sport.

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