For each ‘Planner’s Pick,’ Prevue interviews a planner for their choices of compelling, high value destinations.
PLANNER: DOUG MCCLEW
Harley Owners Group
Engines roar into life. The crowd leans forward, watching the driver lean into the angled curve, shoulders taut with tension. Who’ll win? Richard Petty? Tony Stewart? Nope. Today’s champ is a conference attendee revving up through six gears and 600 horsepower inside state-of-art simulators at NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Race Week garage in Charlotte, NC.
“Just too cool,” gushes Doug McClew, rally coordinator for the NC State HOG Rally that brought 700 Harley bike owners to the complex for an evening reception. The entry ticket is a hard card that is personalized at a video kiosk. The guest then selects a legendary or active driver to be their virtual host for the evening.
“NASCAR Hall of Fame has three floors of interactive stations, from driving a car to timed races of changing tires. It’s a great keepsake,” says McClew.
Opened in May, the 150,000-sf NASCAR Hall of Fame boasts 100s of artifacts, interactive exhibits, the Hall of Honor, a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant and a full broadcast studio. The entire facility accommodates 2,200 while the Great Hall holds 680, reception. All of this is next door to the new 102,000-sf expansion at the Charlotte Convention Center.
“You don’t have to be a race fan to appreciate being here,” echoes Kindsay Greene, director of business development for Appalachian State University Athletics’ fund raising dept, whose Spring Tour function for 200 donors was the first event held at NASCAR Hall of Fame. Evening events typically begin in the 278-pax Belk High Octane Theater with a film montage of racing history. Guests then flow into the Great Hall, which has an interactive 14×18’ video billboard flashing live video scenes and messaging.
Then there’s Glory Road, a banked ramp simulating various racetracks with two walkout experiences at 14° and 33°. The latter simulates the fast track at Talladega.
“I couldn’t walk it all…Talladega’s that steep,” says McClew.
Above the entertainment factor, both McClew and Greene raved about the staff’s service.
“We didn’t have a hiccup,” says McClew. “700 people parked at the same time and they just had it together. Of all the Harley events I’ve coordinated, NASCAR Hall of Fame’s staff are the best. If I was a planner bringing in a 1,000 people, I’d be able to sit back comfortably and let them do it all.”
Greene concurs. “The minute I walked in, they were there to assist me and my guests.” Her program included speeches by coaches and star athletes, along with video presentations on the Belk High Octane Theater’s 64-ft wide curved projection screen. “I’ve seen our presentation in eight other cities of our 2-week tour, but it was more dynamic on their 3-screen system.”
Then a curveball. “We needed to host a last-minute press conference to announce Jason Capel as [ASU’s basketball] head coach. The Hall of Fame staff helped me introduce him to fans while maintaining the NASCAR theme.”
Greene stresses that she wants to return. “I’m pretty picky. If things don’t go well, I investigate why. I didn’t have to think twice about this event afterwards.”