Getting to the May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway had always been on Jarrad Scott’s bucket list.
So what if it took 30 hours and 8,360 miles from New Zealand to land at Charlotte Douglas International Airport late Thursday?
“It was a long trip yesterday,” Scott said at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday. “But now we’re here, and we can’t wait.”
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Fans from 25 countries and all 50 states will attend the speedway’s May races through the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29. Probably none will travel farther than Scott, his dad and 12 others from New Zealand, speedway officials said.
Visiting the Hall of Fame on Friday, Scott, 39, showed no signs of jet lag. Neither did Barry Scott, 66, and eight other New Zealanders on the same all-motorsports package tour. They’re staying at the Hilton Garden Inn across from the Hall of Fame. The group was scheduled to attend Friday night’s races and return for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race.
The group had just been to Target at the Metropolitan to buy socks and underclothes, as most of their luggage was stuck in Houston. So were four of their fellow travelers.
“We’re still running on adrenaline,” said Bede Kean, 58.
“And beer,” quipped Bede Geary, 57.
Most didn’t know each other before boarding their plane at 7 a.m. Thursday New Zealand time. They came “from the top of the country to the bottom,” Jarrad Scott said, all with a common love of racing. Some are racers in New Zealand, including former New Zealand Formula 4 champion Leroy Stevenson.
Barry Scott also raced in his younger days, spreading the love to his son. “His mother bottle-fed him petrol as a baby,” Bede Geary, a neighbor of Jarrad Scott, joked about Scott’s dad at the Hall of Fame.
Watching live broadcasts of NASCAR races on TV, Jarrad Scott became a NASCAR and Jimmie Johnson devotee.
He and his dad own an engineering firm. They made it to their first races at Charlotte Motor Speedway last May and so loved the experience they had to return. They also attended the Indianapolis 500, which had been Barry Scott’s dream.
Jarrad Scott’s wife, who is a travel agent, found the motorsports package tour.
They plan to tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame Saturday morning and visit various motorsports shops early next week. They’ll also tour the Hendrick Motorsports Museum and the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord.
The group will fly midweek to Indianapolis for the Indianapolis 500.
The group paid about $6,000 apiece for the overall experience, one Jarrad Scott vows to do again and again.
For Jarrad Scott, the best part is Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s the racing, the noise, the crowd, the smell of the fuel,” he said. “…The hair on the back of my neck stood up.”