600 Festival to expand Carolinas footprint

The Charlotte region’s three-week racing-themed celebration in May will have a wider footprint.

Charlotte Motor Speedway and 600 Festival officials said Thursday that the 30th version of the festival will spread into three new cities with special events in mid-May.

And Speed Street, Charlotte’s three-day uptown party on Coca-Cola 600 race weekend, will have a new sponsor in its 20th year. Coca-Cola is replacing Food Lion, which had sponsored Speed Street for several years.

“These new events will take us back to the core purpose of the festival,” Jay Howard, president of the 600 Festival Association, said during a news conference at the speedway.

The new events will be the Village Jiggy Jam on May 9-10 in Kannapolis; the Haulers on Union parade and concert May 15 in Concord; and the Little 600 Race on May 20 at the GoPro Motorplex kart track in Mooresville.

“Those three towns, combined with Charlotte, are where the sport (NASCAR) really lives,” Howard said.

Of course, all of the events are built around races May 16, 17, 24 and 25, along with other racing-related events on other dates those two weeks.

The Village Jiggy Jam in Kannapolis will feature outdoor movies, a barbecue cook-off, pancake breakfast, road race and concert.

Haulers on Union will be a parade of more than 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series haulers on Union Street in downtown Concord.

And the Little 600 Race in Mooresville actually will feature a race for NASCAR wives and girlfriends, followed by a go-kart race featuring NASCAR drivers.

Howard said the 600 Festival, in its early days, featured a number of events in the smaller cities around Charlotte. Those disappeared in recent years, but Howard said city and business officials in Concord, Kannapolis and Mooresville have been instrumental in reviving the festival in those towns.

“It works so much better when you have community involvement, and we have it this year,” he said.

Charlotte’s event, Coca-Cola Speed Street, will take place May 22-24. Once again, South Tryon Street and the area around the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be closed to traffic and opened to partygoers.

“No other street festival has people coming back year after year like Speed Street,” said Lauren Steele, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Coca-Cola Consolidated.

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