CONCORD — Former South Carolina football great George Rogers strolled through the infield at Charlotte Motor Speedway a few hours before Saturday’s Sprint Cup All-Star Race started. Rogers said he’s a race fan and was attending the race at the invitation of CMS chairman Bruton Smith.
“This is my first time at Charlotte, though,” he said. “Look at this place, would you!”
Rogers wore a Gamecocks baseball hat and a black golf shirt with the word “Heisman” on the chest (he won the award in 1980).
“You can’t too many of these around here,” he said of the shirt. “Not by driving a car, anyway.”
Rogers said he has worked with drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon (whom Rogers greeted warmly at the prerace drivers meeting). He’s also happy that the Gamecocks’ Jadeveon Clowney was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft last week. Rogers was happy to rank Clowney among the all-time South Carolina greats.
“He’s No. 2!” Rogers said. “He can’t be No. 1, can he?”
• Other sports celebs at the track Saturday: Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (honorary pace car driver) and New York Mets pitcher Bobby Parnell, a Salisbury native who’s on injured reserve. The music industry was represented by country’s Jake Owen and multiple-Grammy winning Train, who both gave prerace concerts. Darius Rucker, a South Carolina native, sang the national anthem.
• Fans from all 50 states and nine countries attended the race. Hawaii became the 50th and final state to be represented when Benjamin Amay of Volcano, Hawaii, bought five tickets to the all-star race earlier this week.
• Saturday’s race activities all started 10 minutes late after the baseball game between the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates ran long on Fox Sports 1. That meant the green flag dropped on therace at 9:20 p.m.
• The speedway’s Laundry Pit Stop will go for a Guinness World Record next Sunday. Fans can go to the 24-hour laundromat (located at the Tim Flock Campground across the street from the track) from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. to see how many T-shirts they can throw in to a hamper at one time. The Laundromat did 750 loads of laundry during last year’s All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 weeks.