NASCAR Competition Good For Local Business

The Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Race Sonoma is one of the biggest weekends of the year for area hotels and restaurants.

It's not usual for Max's Cafe in Corte Madera to be busy on a Friday night, but the staff is serving up a few extra helpings this weekend.

Max's and Best Western Corte Madera Inn are two of the local businesses getting a boost from NASCAR's annual visit to Wine Country for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma this weekend.

"The NASCAR races in Sonoma are always good news for Marin County businesses," said Julie Kritzberger of the Corte Madera Chamber of Commerce. "Our hotels are always full when there is a NASCAR event, which also benefits our restaurants and retailers."

Parked in front of the Corte Madera Inn is a NASCAR semi and a trailer for Pick n Pull, which is the corporate sponsor for Saturday's NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in Sonoma, which features some of Northern California's most exciting drivers.

"The positive economic effect of the NASCAR event in Sonoma certainly trickles down to surrounding areas including Larkspur and Corte Madera, particularly when you look at the number of hotel rooms booked and restaurants that fill up throughout the weekend," said Marin Catholic grad Jennifer Imbimbo, now the manager of media and community relations at Race Sonoma. "Between fans, teams, crew, and the media that come out to enjoy the weekend in Sonoma, we do our part to positively affect the economics in the area.”

The NASCAR teams, drivers and fans in town for the races have filled the Corte Madera Inn almost to capacity, according to general manager Bill Blackburn.

"A lot of rooms closer to the track are filled, so people come here. And they come here for a variety of reasons," including the locale, Blackburn said.

"It is a big weekend for the area," said Kathy Parry of the Sonoma County Chamber of Commerce. "There are more people in town, shopping and visiting the Mission."

The track doesn't release official attendance numbers, but annual estimates for NASCAR weekend are usually around 100,000 people.

Race Sonoma's schedule
of upcoming major events also includes: NHRA Division 7 drag races (July 20-22), NHRA Sonoma Nationals (July 27-29), Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma (August 24-26) and new this year the FIA World Touring Car Championship (Sept. 21-23). NASCAR is still the biggest weekend of the year, though.

"NASCAR is one of the best weekends for us," Blackburn said. "NHRA and IRL are good, but NASCAR has the most demand for rooms and guest room needs. The guests stay here, they eat at Max's, they shop at the Town Center."

Kritzberger added, "It is also a wonderful opportunity to show off our beautiful environment, which leads to longer stays and future visits."

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