BROOKLYN – Michigan International Speedway continues to push the envelope to new levels to reward its fans. In its annual Race to Vegas promotion, track president Roger Curtis selected Kristine Oard among thousands of contestants to join him in Las Vegas for Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series banquet.
The surprised winner was not sure how to react when she received a call from "Elvis Presley." Oard did not immediately celebrate, but had other thoughts cross her mind first.
"I actually thought it was a scam," Oard said. "Who is this? What are you talking about? I thought it was a big joke."
Once it was revealed Presley was actually Curtis dressed up, using a fake voice to make the call, it all suddenly made sense to the Oard, who was still in disbelief.
"I had seen his twitter picture and he is dressed up as Elvis in that picture," Oard continued. "I have heard he has dressed up and gone in the infield during the race weekend and people did not know it was him. But I did not expect him to call me."
Oard has been coming to Michigan International Speedway the past 11 seasons. She sits in the grandstands across from the first pit stall at pit entrance. While far away from the drivers, she is still close enough to experience all the fast-paced action.
Now, she will be even closer and is anticipating the trip to Vegas for one reason.
"I am looking forward to seeing all the drivers," Oard commented. "I just want to see them out of their cars and in a different environment."
As the excitement started to become reality, Oard quickly noted this is how she felt during her first trip to MIS. Just like then, she was in stunned disbelief.
"I have a lot of favorite memories," Oard recalled. "My first time I came to a race, I will always remember this too. I had picked Ryan Newman as my driver. We were walking by the trailers in the fan display area and we were right in front of Ryan Newman's trailer. I turned and looked. I am looking, looking and looking at the person in the trailer and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, that is Ryan Newman.' I will never forget that because he was my favorite driver and I did not know a whole lot about NASCAR and that the drivers came to do autograph sessions. To see him in the trailer was like seeing a real celebrity."
Newman won't be at the banquet, but perhaps she can have that experience with another driver and make that her memory of the Race to Vegas trip.
The Race to Vegas contest is an extension of the speedway's Fan Appreciation Program, which provides experiential prizes to fans throughout the year, including race weekends. Since its inception in 2009, the program has given away thousands of prizes to lucky winners on a random basis.
This is the fourth time Michigan International Speedway has hosted a fan at the banquet.
"We love providing our fans with unique experiences," Curtis said. "We enjoy sharing what we experience with fans and have a great time getting to know them on race weekend. So taking a fan to Las Vegas is a nice opportunity for us to get to know them while slowing them all the great things about NASCAR."
Oard will receive round-trip airfare to Las Vegas and hotel accommodations at the famed Wynn Hotel, along with a seat at the banquet. She will also attend the NASCAR NMPA Awards Luncheon and NASCAR After the Lap events – all exclusive events in Las Vegas.
Oard follows former winners Thomas Schultz of Plymouth, Mich., (2009 winner), Vic Loomis of East Lansing, Mich., (2010) and Brian Reid of Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada (2011), who all traveled back from Las Vegas with many exciting memories to share.
Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is the Great Escape, a venerable NASCAR national park where fans can get away and enjoy the very best in racing and camaraderie. It's the love of racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike.
Tickets are on sale at http://www.MISpeedway.com or by phone at 800-354-1010.
Keep up with Michigan International Speedway via Twitter @MISpeedway or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MISpeedway. Android and iPhone can now download Discover MIS, the official app of MIS, on Google Play and iTunes.
Join our Mobile Fan Club by texting MISCLUB on a Sprint Handheld or other mobile device to 69050. Standard text message rates may apply.
2013 Michigan International Speedway Schedule
Saturday, May 18 Michigan Wine and Beer Fest presented by Experience Jackson
Friday, June 14 ARCA Racing Series RainEater Wiper Blades 200 and Sprint Cup Qualifying
Saturday, June 15 NASCAR Nationwide Series Alliance Truck Parts 250
Sunday, June 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Friday, Aug. 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice and Qualifying
Saturday, Aug. 17 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Sunday, Aug. 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400