Lawrence hotels and campgrounds are packed this weekend as NASCAR fans have made the trip from across the country.
Other businesses hope to celebrate a victory in sales this weekend with NASCAR's version of the playoffs at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
"It is good news for us. To the tune of an extra 20 to 30 percent, it's a good weekend for us," said Rusty Mather, manager of Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse, 719 Mass.
"We are very busy both nights. This is definitely one of the biggest weekends consistently every year," said Jeff Weber, front desk clerk at Econo Lodge, 2222 W. Sixth St.
All 108 rooms there are full for the weekend, he said, and he expected to tell about 20 people per night about restaurants around town.
Jets have swooped in and brought race teams and pit crews to the Lawrence Municipal Airport for the past few days.
Avid racing fans have already pulled their recreational vehicles into the Lawrence KOA Campground to see qualifying races Friday, the Busch Series Yellow Transportation 300 race at 2 p.m. today and NASCAR's Banquet 400 on Sunday.
Susan Ramirez, the campground's manager said it's the busiest annual weekend. On Friday afternoon they had more than 100 RVs hooked up, 40 RVs camping without utilities and 20 tent reservations.
"They call us NASCAR junkies," said Sonny Sales, of Crescent, Iowa, who was staying at the campground. "I've scheduled my vacation from work around NASCAR for the last two years."
"You've got to go and feel the thrills and the people standing up, the vibration through your body, and seeing the drivers go around the track. It's exciting," said Sales, who made the trip with his wife, Donna.
With the excitement around the sport, when it comes to bolstering the Lawrence economy, NASCAR finishes second to Kansas University home football games, according to Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The bureau hasn't done a formal study to determine the economic effect the speedway and its thousands of fans have had on the Lawrence area.
During KU football weekends, fans tend to not only fill up hotels, but spend money in restaurants and on entertainment, Billings said. Most of the racing fans will fill up the hotels but spend the day in Kansas City, Kan.
Lawrence tourism officials also want to see if there was an impact here from The Legends at Village West, a 750,000-square-foot outdoor shopping and entertainment lifestyle center next to the racetrack. The Legends center, which has about 70 stores and restaurants, opened in April.
Several Lawrence hotels reported being booked for the weekend, and restaurateurs were hoping for a spillover.
"We're hoping we will be busy. Looking back last year, we did see a little bit. Nothing way over the top, but we did see a little bit of a push," said Shannon Winfrey, a general manager at Old Chicago, 2329 Iowa.
Typically, home KU football and basketball games make a bigger impact, she said.
"It's as big as home games in basketball, and football home games are starting to fill up as well. Anytime we have a major race like that in Kansas City, we fill up," said Perry Martin, general manager of the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Drive.