Advocare 500 preview: NASCAR races into Valley, fans set up own community

AVONDALE, AZ - The big race isn't until Sunday but already a growing community of fans are making their home at Phoenix International Raceway.

One of the most popular buildings in Racetown USA, the showers.

"Before you would just splash some water on your face and that was it for the day. Now you can come here and they've got hot water, you can shave. It's nicer than some of the hotels that I've stayed at," said Dale Thompson.

Thompson is talking about two trailer size showering facilities operated by Porta Kleen. They opened up at 6 a.m. on Friday morning, but there was a line long before that.

"You don't want to know what we did before these showers. Sponge baths and baby wipes," said Burt Wilkinson.

In recent years "Racetown USA" as fans call it has become self-suffient. Safeway operates an on-site grocery store and many campers we talked to say they actually wait to buy supplies until they get to the track.

Stores like Camping World say they have noticed the growing popularity of their business. In all, employees brought about $150,000 worth of camping chairs, grills, space heaters, generators, and even TVs to Phoenix International.

"I remember when I first started coming you would line up outside of the track. They'd mark your car with shoe polish and then when they opened the gates everyone would race into the infield to try a get the best spot. Sometimes you'd have to dodge the other cars and the cacti that were near the track," said one 25-year veteran of Phoenix International.

The green flag for the Advocare 500 drops at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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