Chamber, Kroger, Walmart host NASCAR events

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By Jeff Moore

NASCAR fans with a taste for racing won’t go hungry in Carroll County this week.

The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and stores such as Kroger and Walmart will serve up a buffet full of racing-themed activities, and fans can go back for more Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

All of the events are part of the fanfare leading up to Saturday’s second NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

It all kicks off Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot at the Kroger store on Hwy. 227.

Store manager John Royce said the Coca-Cola pace car, the Budweiser remote-control race cars and the Fritos racing simulator will be at the Kroger parking lot from 2-5 p.m.

At that point, he said, they move to downtown Carrollton for the second Race Fest, sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

Downtown, streets will be blocked from 6-10 p.m. Wednesday, and Race Fest will feature music, race cars, racing-related events, food, music, a cruise-in by Kentucky Kruizers and the Derby City Mustang Club of Louisville, and a motorcycle show.

Up-and-coming driver Ben Rhodes, 15, of Louisville, who competes in the United Auto Racing Association’s STARS division, will be on hand downtown for photographs with race fans and to sign autographs. There also will be the Chester Cheetos and the Fritos simulators, along with the remote-control race cars.

On the main stage, the  band 3% will perform.

To accommodate racing fans, the chamber will be operating a shuttle that runs each hour from the Ponderosa campground at Kentucky Speedway to downtown Carrollton for the event.

“This will be a nice event to kick off the races,” chamber Race Fest committee member Rhonda Welch said in a recent interview.

Walmart’s store on Floyd Drive in Carrollton will be a focus of racing festivities in Carroll County from noon-6 p.m. Thursday.

A Walmart spokesman said Monday that Unilever’s Nationwide Driver Cole Whitt will appear at the store at 1 p.m. Thursday.

The Carrollton store’s parking lot will have displays that are free and open to the public, featuring the Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Cheez-It show car simulator, No. 24 Pepsi MAX show car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew show car, Walmart’s 50th anniversary show car, Coors Light show car and M&M’s show car, simulator pod and trophy display.

“Walmart is the champion of the racing fan, and we are committed to providing customers with savings on authentic merchandise, as well as unique race time experiences,” said Walmart market manager Beth Dlutowski in a news release. “We want to give fans affordability and accessibility, so they can enjoy race time with their families and friends.”

Just next door at Kroger on Thursday, hot dog fans can enjoy a Relay for Life cookout featuring Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile.

Royce said the Wienermobile will be there as part of the event from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There will be photographs with the vehicle for digital postcards and free WiennerWhistles will be given away, according to a news release from Oscar Mayer.

Another day of racing festivities follows at the two stores on Friday.

Walmart will host free displays that are open to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., including the Coca-Cola two-seat simulator, Hefty Show car simulator, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet, Miller Lite Show Car and M&M’s show car, simulator pod and trophy display.

The hot dog fun continues next door at Kroger as the store’s team puts on another cookout as part of its Fan Fest from 1-7 p.m.

Royce said half of the store’s parking lot will be dedicated to show cars, food, games and other race-themed activities for the fans. Additionally the Big Red vintage 1926 car that will be given away by Kroger will be on display during the event.

Some lucky fans also will walk away with tickets to Saturday’s Quaker State 400 and a Kroger party pack during Friday’s festivities, Royce said.