BRADENTON -- A motorcycle drag racing series coming to Bradenton this year is expected to draw thousands that will inject tourism dollars into the local economy and grant exposure to the Bradenton area.
The Manufacturers Cup motorcycle drag racing series recently announced that Bradenton Motorsports Park at 21000 State Road 64 in East Bradenton will be the host venue for their 2013 cup series season opener, as well as the season-ending Haltech World Finals.
The season opener will be held April 5-7 to kick off the four-race cup series, which is regarded as the premier motorcycle drag series in the country. Bradenton will close out the season Nov. 8-10 with the Haltech World Finals, when champions will be crowned in all drag racing classes.
"It's huge for our facility and for Manatee County," said Alan Chervitz, owner of Bradenton Motorsports Park. "It brings a huge number of people to the area. It's great for the community and it'll have big economic impact."
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Organizers of the series said Bradenton was a prime location for the event.
"The weather location is a lot of it," said David Schnitz,
co-owner of the Manufacturer's Cup and owner of Schnitz Racing. "The farther south you go the better and because it's outdoors, you have better chance of not having rain."
Schnitz said the season opener will bring 500 competitors to Bradenton while the world finals will bring as many as 850 racers from across the globe. The most recent Haltech World Finals attracted competitors from Japan, Finland, Germany, England, South Africa and Canada.
"You can end up with 3,000 to 4,000 spectators," Schnitz said. "For a drag racing event, that's pretty good."
Bradenton officials credit sports tourism as one of several reasons that direct expenditures and total economic impact for the past eight months have each increased by 12 percent.
"Any event in our community that drives in out-of-town business will definitely cater to our local economy," said Elliot Falcione, executive director for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Our community truly needs new dollars from visitors in order for our businesses to flourish and maintain their employee base."
Debbie Meilhs, film commissioner for the Visitors Bureau, said the bureau is already assisting organizers with lodging and travel.
"We love those kind of partners and the Bradenton area in Manatee County is the perfect spot for sporting events," she said.
"I expect every hotel to be booked and every restaurant to be filled up," Chervitz said.
The Manufacturer's Cup formed in 2010 when eight motorsports manufacturing companies decided to start their own promotional company when the primary national organization went out of business. This year's Manufacturer's Cup will be the series' first venture into Florida. Previous locations included Indianapolis and Valdosta, Ga.
"Bradenton Motorsports Park has a long history of hosting events, top notch events," said Jay Regan, cofounder and event coordinator for the Manufacturers Cup. "I'm local and I considered Bradenton Motorsports my home track since I started in 1982. As a region, it offered our racers a whole lot more to do if they were so inclined to do a whole lot more. There were a lot of amenities the Bradenton facility offered outside of the race track."
Chervitz said the motorcycle event will be the largest the facility has hosted in his 12 years as owner.
"We do have a really good reputation and this just further legitimizes the hard work and improvements we've made to this facility."
Nick Williams, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.