ELKIN — Some Surry County students have earned free admission to Friendship Motor Speedway.
On May 14 the speedway will allow students from the county’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program to enter the evening’s races for free. The night is also a fundraiser for the Surry County Schools D.A.R.E. programs.
“We are building a fan base through community partnerships,” explained track general manager Jason Atkins. “What better program than D.A.R.E.?”
Atkins said children 12 and younger, provided they are in or have graduated a D.A.R.E. program, will enter the event for free. Older students may enter at a reduced rate of $5. Fees for adults are $32 for pit admission and $20 for a grandstand ticket.
Racing will begin around 6 p.m., according to Atkins. However, the doors to the event will open at 2 p.m. for other activities.
“We are looking at other fundraising efforts we can do to help the D.A.R.E. program,” said Atkins, mentioning a dunking booth and a 50/50 raffle were among possible events which may surround the racing. Additionally, Friendship Speedway will donate part of its proceeds from the evening to the county’s D.A.R.E. program.
Atkins added he is looking for ways to promote interaction between students, fans and drivers, such as drivers participating in games prior to the evening’s races.
Atkins, who is originally from Mount Airy, said he has worked at other tracks in the state and has found adding other elements to the racing experience is key to building a fan base.
“We don’t want people just to go to the races,” said Atkins. “We want them to attend an event.”
Following preceding activities, the night’s races will kick off around 6 p.m., according to Atkins. Featured will be a FUEL Racing Series, a touring series which consists of a 40-lap race. Most races at the speedway are 15 or 20 laps in length.
While racing usually lasts until about 11 p.m. at the speedway, Atkins said the D.A.R.E. event may push closing time a little later into the night. Sheriff Graham Atkinson and Surry County Schools superintendent Travis Reeves are scheduled to speak at intermission, and the FUEL Series will also lengthen the evening’s docket.
Atkins noted the event will be the first in which the speedway has teamed with D.A.R.E.
“If all goes well, it will become an annual event,” remarked Atkins.
While the event at the raceway may be new, Atkins said Mount Airy SECA Late Model racer Ryan Atkins has been teaming with the sheriff in the D.A.R.E. program and has spoken to students on numerous occasions throughout the past few years.
“We hope to expose the racetrack to some new faces,” explained Atkins. “But the important part is putting a worthwhile community program like D.A.R.E. in the spotlight for the night.”
Friendship Motor Speedway is located in Elkin at 11420 N.C. 268.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.