"Fast" Talk: HMS Prez, Indy 500 Winners address Miami Chamber

Impact extends beyond NASCAR, IndyCar with track "hot" 260 days a year

MIAMI - As the headline speaker at this week's Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray used dollars and cents to illustrate the economic impact of the motorsports industry on South Florida.

“Homestead-Miami Speedway is responsible for more than $225 million of economic impact in South Florida, as the track stays busy 260 days a year,” said Gray in his address entitled “The Business of Speed.” “Last year, people working or attending events at the track accounted for 14,500 room nights in South Florida hotels in 2006, and that doesn’t even include the [headlining] races in March and November.”

To help emphasize the economic benefits of motorsports to Miami Chamber businesses, Gray brought along special guests Juan Pablo Montoya, NASCAR’s points-leading NEXTEL Cup rookie and 2000 Indy 500 winner; and Helio Castroneves, two-time Indy 500 winner and 2007 “Dancing with the Stars” contestant—both Miami residents.

“Everyone is looking for a place in Charlotte,” the Colombian-born Montoya said of motorsports’ hotbed city. “I want to live here. This is the closest thing to home for me.”

In a question-and-answer session with the famed drivers, Gray asked what it would mean to win on South Florida’s Championship Track.

“Winning at Homestead-Miami Speedway would be great,” said Castroneves, who missed the checkered flag in 2006 by 0.0147 of a second. “I’ve come in second twice. It would be great to finally win here in Miami, at my hometown track in front of my friends and family.”

While Homestead-Miami is renown for hosting IndyCar’s season-opening “SpeedJam” in March and NASCAR’s season-finale “Ford Championship Weekend” in November, Gray highlighted other year-round events hosted at the Speedway, including: team and manufacturer testing, club racing, car clubs, motorcycle instruction and racing, product launches, off-road experiences, karting events, movie and commercial filming, bicycle clubs and private rentals at the Champions Club.

“Sometimes people don’t realize all of the events that we have at the track and don’t understand the breadth of the businesses and organizations we’re equipped to accommodate,” Gray said. “In reality, the Speedway is a very versatile and highly sought venue, and we stay very busy year round.”

NASCAR returns to Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval Nov. 16-18, as the NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series all crown champions under the lights during Ford Championship Weekend. Additional festivities include Ford Racefest—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 Ford Championship Weekend NASCAR tickets, please call (866) 409-RACE or visit www.RaceTickets.com. For information on all Homestead-Miami Speedway events—including group sales and private track rental—please visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.

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