Northeast Kansas is on track to bring in millions in tourism dollars this fall - money it doesn't want to lose in future years.
Heartland Park Topeka hosted a community rally Tuesday to announce the first-ever Topeka Festival of Speed. Community leaders revealed activities intended to support and encourage attendance for the Sports Car Club of America Championship Runoffs to be held in October 2008.
The Championship Runoffs annually bring nearly $15 million in tourism to the Topeka area. However, SCCA leaders would like to see increased attendance in deciding whether to keep the event in Topeka in future years.
Jim Parrish of Parrish Hotel Corp. says the festival will include family activities to create an appealing atmosphere around the races.
"Community leaders, business people and members of the public are pulling together to make the community more aware of these runoffs, the SCCA Grand National Runoffs with is their Super Bowl of amateur car racing," Parrish said. "I think if there's more awareness we'll create more public participation and that will encourage SCCA to keep the Runoffs here in Topeka."
Sarah Strydom, Chairperson of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce Fast Forward group, says people have thought of the races as one single event. The goal of the Festival of Speed is to give families something more. She says plans call for a parade to kick off the weekend, hot air balloon rides, a chili cookoff and other interactive events for the entire family.
This is the third and final year of a contract between SCCA and Heartland Park to host the runoffs. The SCCA board will meet next month to consider renewing the contract.