Chris Van Horne/Fort Worth Journalist
It could be a sign of the times, regulars at Texas Motor Speedway say they're seeing fewer people camping out prior to the big NASCAR race this weekend.
Tens of thousands of people will descend upon Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for three separate NASCAR races, including the Sprint Cup Race on Sunday
The flags are up, the barbecues are ready, and the final spikes are in the ground for some of the hundreds who are spending the week, if not longer, outside the race track.
It's been six months since the earlier race in the season at TMS, and regulars have noticed a slight difference this time.
"It seems like it's a bit slower this year," said Keith Collins, of Midland, who's been coming to camp out for the last four years. "Could be the economy, but by Friday, it will be plum full in this section."
While some of the campers are noticing slightly smaller crowds, ticket sales for the races are said to be good.
"We spend $22 million every NASCAR race bringing tourists from all 50 states and foreign countries," said Eddie Gossage, TMS president. "The Super Bowl spent $30 million, we're spending $22 million twice a year."
Gossage said a lot has changed in the area surrounding the racetrack. Hotels and retail shops have popped up, taking advantage of the thousands of tourists, and Gossage said more are on the way.
"There's plans to build a shopping mall across from the speedway," he said. "Neighborhoods are popping up around us, and it's amazing to see. Some of it is related to us, some of it isn't, but it's just great to see this whole area change."
Those occupying the campsites said they plan on spending big this weekend and in many more race weekends to come.
"Oh yeah, we definitely do -- [a] lot of groceries to be bought, lot of fuel to be bought, things like that," said Ben Lohmeyer of Mountain Home, Ark.
Gossage said roads have improved over the years, and that traffic isn't as bad as it used to be. He said it's better than the traffic letting out of Cowboys Stadium or Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
But if you're looking to avoid traffic, The T will offer special buses for $10 from Tarrant County College's Northwest Campus from 8 a.m to 10 a.m. and then drop folks off after the race is complete.