A "Passport" to NASCAR-championship country

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A week after returning home from Ford Championship Weekend last year, Pompano Beach, Fla.-resident Mark Douglas received an unexpected package from Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Nearly 200 miles away in North Port, Fla., Greg Gibson also received an unsolicited mailing on the heels of his trip to see NASCAR's series-crowning event.

The link? Both men participated in the Speedway’s "Passport to Prizes" program, in which fans who visit “Passport Pit-Stops” during Ford Championship Weekend become eligible to win racing gear, autographs, driving experiences and other prizes.

The package Douglas received in Pompano Beach contained a Jack Daniel’s crew shirt autographed by driver Dave Blaney and crew chief Gil Martin. As fate would have it, the recipient’s best friend is a huge Blaney fan, and the friend’s birthday loomed in a matter of weeks.

“When I saw his birthday coming, I thought, 'What would be more appropriate than that?’ recalled Douglas, 35. “I had to give it to him. It worked out well, and he even got Blaney to personalize it for him at an autograph signing.”

Gibson’s package that arrived in North Port contained a 1/18 scale die-cast replica of a Ford GT and was signed by all of the Team Ford Racing drivers. That keepsake currently resides alongside other racing memorabilia on Gibson’s NASCAR display shelf.

Other prizes awarded to 2006 Passport participants included Richard Petty Driving Experiences and ride-alongs, autographed racing hoods and helmets, $100 Home Depot Gift Cards and complete cookware sets. Last year’s sponsor participants included exhibitions from XM Satellite Radio, Sprint, the US Army, AAA, Sharpie, Nicorette, Germanfoods.org, Richard Petty Driving Schools, Home Depot and the United Auto Workers.

Fans participate free-of-charge by enrolling at the Passport Kiosk (located just inside the admissions gate), where they receive their Passport cards and a map of the NASCAR-related display areas. To be entered to win, simply visit the “Passport Pit-Stops” (marked with the “Passport to Prizes” logo) and return the stamped cards to any Passport Kiosk.

Gibson, who has attended NASCAR’s championship-crowning weekend at Homestead-Miami three years’ running, said his favorite Pit-Stop last year was the Ford display, where the 42-year-old competed with his then 15-year-old daughter in a car-pulling competition against other father-daughter pairings.

“We’ve done different things every year,” Gibson said. “I think [the Ford Pit-Stop] was my favorite because I got to do it with my daughter.”

As for Douglas, his favorite 2006 Pit-Stop, ironically, was the Jack Daniel’s display, where he learned about the distillation and oak-barrel aging processes of making the signature whiskey.

While he and a friend have been attending NASCAR races at the Speedway since 1996, Douglas last year took his wife and son to see all three races at Ford Championship Weekend. He didn’t know about the “Passport” program before arriving, but he certainly made the most of it when introduced.

“It was a blast. I enjoyed it, my wife and son enjoyed it,” Douglas said. “It gives you a better insight one-on-one with the products that are offered and gets you more in touch with your NASCAR community.”

With his favorite driver, Clint Bowyer, entering this Sunday’s race at Michigan sitting ninth in the Nextel Cup standings, Douglas is once again hyped up for Ford Championship Weekend. Co-winner Gibson already has purchased his tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend, and having recently changed allegiances from Dale Jarrett to Tony

Stewart he’ll be eyeing anything affiliated with the No. 20 car in this year’s “Passport to Prizes” program.

Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 16-18) are ON SALE NOW. The Ford 200/Craftsman Truck race is set for Friday and the Ford 300/Busch on Saturday; the weekend culminates with Sunday’s Ford 400—the final race in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

In addition to the races, Ford Championship Weekend includes the Ford Racefest extravaganza—featuring live concerts, interactive exhibits, NASCAR drivers and the NEXTEL Cup trophy on display—the Homestead-Miami Speedway Celebrity Golf Classic, the Hot Rods & Reels fishing tournament and Ford’s “Bailando Por La Copa” (“Dancing for the Cup”) salsa finals.

For tickets, please call (866) 409-RACE or visit www.Ractickets.com. For information on all Homestead-Miami Speedway events—including the “Passport to Prizes” program, group sales and private track rental—please visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.


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