In the various campsites surrounding a NASCAR event, large groups of friends and family can be found using the weekend as an opportunity to get together and have some fun.
Once there, groups of people meet new friends from all over the country as some mingle from campsite to campsite.
But, one never knows who is going to show up at a campsite before the green flag flies.
Thanks to the Wrigley chewing gum company, Juan Pablo Montoya could be one of those people who makes a stop at your tailgating party.
Instead of bringing Montoya to the hospitality suites, Wrigley uses its time with Montoya by taking the driver of the No. 42 Dodge out to a lucky group of people.
The «Bring Juan to the Fans» campsite selection crew works a day before the race when Wrigley seeks out a group of Montoya fans by looking for a site with a Montoya flag, or fans wearing Montoya gear. Once they find a Montoya fan or campsite, they stop and tell the campers that, the following day, at a designated time, they will bring Montoya to their location. They pass out Juicy Fruit or Big Red gear and provide the campers with gum and flags to decorate their area prior to the Ganassi Racing driver’s appearance.
The special event happens at one of the 19 Wrigley races throughout the season when Montoya is driving either the Juicy Fruit or Big Red car.
«This is pretty cool,» Montoya said. «We do this every time we run the Wrigley’s car. It’s exciting getting close to the fans. They are here for us and you have to be here for them as well.»
At the last race at Chicagoland Speedway, a lucky group of fans from the Sturgeon Bay, Wis. area were the lucky recipients of a visit by Montoya.
With everyone wearing Juicy Fruit T-shirts and the campsite decked out with Juicy Fruit No. 42 flags, a smile appeared on everyone’s face as Montoya pulled up to the campsite. Once there, Montoya talked with the group, took pictures and signed autographs.
«That was awesome to see a driver come to you and see your site,» said Steve Neville, who outfitted his friends with a couple of campers for the trip from his RV Center in Wisconsin. «I have been kind of a Dodge, Ganassi fan. So, for me, it’s great.»
The Chicago race has become a tradition for the group every season.
«We missed the first race, but ever since then we have been coming and we have been pretty much on the Turn 1 and 2 trackside every year,» Neville said.
Jeff Naze, who was one of the campers to first greet Montoya, is one from the group that has attended every race.
«Our group gets bigger every year,» Naze said. «I’m sure he (Montoya) will be our favorite driver in our group.»
Every event so far this season has brought a positive response for Wrigley. The fans love it, and it gives them the opportunity to see Montoya’s personality.
In fact, Montoya handed out red roses to moms in Darlington campgrounds on Mother’s Day and Big Red clip-on ties to dads in Michigan campgrounds on Father’s Day.
This weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will mark the 11th Wrigley event in 2008, as Montoya will pilot the Big Red car for the fifth time this season. One lucky group of Montoya fans will once again have the opportunity to meet the driver of the No. 42 Dodge.
The remainder of the schedule for your chance for Montoya to make an appearance at your campsite is as follows: Watkins Glen (Big Red), Bristol (Juicy Fruit), Richmond (Juicy Fruit), New Hampshire (Juicy Fruit), Dover (Big Red), Lowe’s (Juicy Fruit), Martinsville (Big Red) and Homestead (Juicy Fruit).
If you are interested in seeing if a campsite is available to purchase at Watkins Glen, Richmond, Martinsville and Homestead be sure to call 1-866-989-RACE.