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Gresham prepares for 29th running of World Crown 300

POSTED: July 3, 2012 8:21 p.m.
For The Times/

A group of cars, including leader Chase Elliott, race at the World Crown 300 in Nov. 2010. This year's race will be held today at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson. It is the first time the World Crown will be held on the Fourth of July.

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For 28 years, the World Crown 300, which runs at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, was held in the middle of November.

The race would have to go head-to-head against national attractions such as college football, basketball and, sometimes, the baseball playoffs.

But with the closing of Lanier National Speedway, which had traditionally held the area’s predominant Fourth of July event, Gresham can step forward to fill the opening.

For the first time in its 29 years, the World Crown 300 will run today on the Fourth of July. Gates for the event will open at noon and opening ceremonies for the featured events will be held at 5:25 p.m.

“This is the first time we’ve held the World Crown on the Fourth,” track general manager Dan Elliott said. “I don’t know when we’ve ever had a race on the Fourth. The buzz around here is great. We’re really excited about it.”

Elliott said that, as of Monday, 25 individuals had registered for the race and he expected more to come.

“I’ve always heard people say that if you have 20 good cars, you’ve got a good race,” he said. “There are some awesome cars in that group of 25. Lots of competitive cars, so we’re looking forward to a good race.”

Not only the date for the event changed. In the past, the World Crown has been a three-day event, spanning from Friday-Sunday.

“We changed to a single-day event this year because of where we’re at in the economy,” Elliott said. “We made the date change, but also broke it up into a couple individual events.”

Those events include the trucks race, the outlaw late models and the super late models.

Elliott said that he was happy they broke up the event from its former three-day schedule.

“Everyone wants quicker events now,” he said. “We want to keep things exciting and then get home without feeling like you’ve run a marathon.

The atmosphere itself is sure to be an improvement over past races as well. The track will host fireworks for the city after the final race at about 9:30 p.m. Individuals who don’t care to go to the event during the day are still welcome to pay $5 for parking to come see the fireworks, he said.

They are hoping for a turnout of about 5-6,000 people for the event during the day and more for the fireworks.

Kipper Tool purchased 500 tickets to the event to give away to individuals in the military. The first 500 who can present a military ID, retired or active, will get in free. Elliott added that there will be raffles and prizes also available during the day.

The hardest part for those involved with the event was planning for it to be on the Fourth of July.

Elliott mentioned the fact that they had to plan for the Patriotic part of the day as well as the race itself. Add in the intense heat wave the area has faced over the past week, and it was a fairly significant undertaking.

“Getting ready with drinks and ice, making sure none of our workers get hot during the days of preparation and preparing for all of our guests and their needs on Wednesday. It’s been difficult,” he said. “It’s just those little things that really end up being the hardest part.”

And the work hasn’t stopped for him.

“I think I’ll still be running around (today),” he said. “This one will have some unique challenges.”

Like setting up the fireworks, getting people in and out and prepared to watch safely. The biggest challenge, he said, would be keeping with the schedule.

“I expect a lot of running and nervous energy,” he said. “I’ll be like a kid in a candy store.”

But, in the end, he thinks it will be worth it.

“We want to be able to have people start traditions for the Fourth at Gresham,” he said. “The tradition will always stay with a few families. I grew up at Daytona on the Fourth of July. We’d see the fireworks from the interstate. That was my tradition. I think we can help people build their’s here.”


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