AMS Fans Face Decision: Stay or Go?
Thousands of NASCAR fans woke up Monday morning in the infield at Atlanta Motor Speedway, at hotels near the track, and in homes and apartments all around the Atlanta metro area, and looked at the gray, misty skies overhead.
All faced the same basic question: Should they wait out the weather or head home?
When NASCAR president Mike Helton announced late Sunday night that the AdvoCare 500 had been postponed until Tuesday morning, it not only affected drivers and teams -- most of which returned to Charlotte -- but everything from the trailers that carry NASCAR's inspection equipment to the logistics of breaking down and setting up miles of television cables and connections for the race broadcast.
And then there were the fans who might have been able to return on Monday but couldn't build in another overnight stay. One group staying at the Hampton Inn in Fayetteville pondered the decision during breakfast.
"Maybe we could sell our tickets and at least get something back," one man said. "Yeah, probably enough to buy a hotdog," the other replied.
Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark understands the disappointment fans are feeling. In a statement to the fans posted on the AMS website, he expressed a similar feeling and thanked the fans for their understanding.
"All of us at Atlanta Motor Speedway join all of you in the disappointment of Sunday night's AdvoCare 500 being postponed due to inclement weather that is expected to last through Monday," Clark said in the statement. Our goal at Atlanta Motor Speedway is always to provide excellent customer service to all fans, regardless of where you travel from as you choose to spend Labor Day Weekend with us. When the AdvoCare 500 runs on Tuesday, we'll put our best foot forward as we strive to provide you with a first-class experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"We have the expectation that tomorrow's race will still be one of the most exciting races of the NASCAR season, giving our fans the same thrilling racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway which we all have come to love so much. Thank you for being with us this weekend, and thank you for your patience and understanding."
At the track, motorhomes perched high above Turn 1 -- in spaces costing as much as $4,000 for the weekend -- sported license plates from locales as varied as Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Montana.
In some cases, travel distance and job obligations made the decision easy for owners who dodged raindrops while unhooking their electrical and sewer connections. Edward Slaton needed to get back to Mobile, Ala., and the moving company he owns.
"I've got to go to work [Tuesday]," Slaton said. "And the kids have to go to school. We've got to drive back to Madison, Ga., about an hour away and then back to Mobile, which is six hours.
"We'd love to stay. We saw one race, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do."
A few spaces over, Tracy Pearson was also loading up. But the Woodstock, Ga., resident knew he could get back if the weather improved.
"I just think it's going to rain Tuesday," said Pearson, who owns a swimming pool construction business. "I'm only an hour away, so if I see that it's going to be run, we'll probably come back.
"Plus, I need to get the kids back home because they've got to be back in school Tuesday. That's our biggest reason."
Veteran fan Brett Cappadona of Arlington, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis, builds outdoor drinking fountains. He and his family are planning on sticking it out for the duration.
"I knew pretty much [Sunday] morning we weren't racing," Cappadona said. "When they sing the National Anthem and don't put the cars on pit road, it's not happening."
"I've got kids in there that have to go back to school, but we're still deciding on that, whether mom's going home with them or not."
In addition to heavy rain, high winds and possible tornadoes were in Monday's weather forecast. And with Cappadona's motorhome in an unprotected spot, was he worried?
"We've been through so much, we're kind of going to hang out and see what happens," Cappadona said.
Cappadona was in the minority, as behind him, a steady stream of campers and trailers lined up to head through the infield tunnels on their way to Interstate 75.