KNOXVILLE — After successful downtown events for RVTV and RAGBRAI, there is still little to no foot traffic around the square from the thousands of Sprint Car fans in town for the Knoxville Nationals. We decided we would ask a few what they would like to see downtown to bring them to the central business district.
Larry and Nancy Spring of Pattersonville, N.Y., suggested bringing the race cars downtown earlier in Nationals week. If not the actual cars, they suggested show models. They said they have seen such a thing in Las Vegas and Charlotte when in town for races.
This is the couple's first trip to the Nationals. They wanted to attend a race at the Eldora Raceway, but the event was sold out. Though Knoxville was their second choice, they are attending all four nights and are having a great time. The Springs were very complimentary of Knoxville's friendliness and hospitality.
As for Jeff Enger, who is attending the Nationals with his family, he is not very interested in coming downtown. He said his family enjoys the campgrounds, the area around Lake Red Rock - specifically the Cordova Tower - and relaxing when not attending races. Enger, of Bloomington, Minn., has regularly attended the Knoxville Nationals since the 1980s. He said he loves it and has every intention of coming back each year.
Bill Clausen of Huntington Beach, Calif., suggested a 5K event as something that might interest fans in the downtown area. Knoxville had a 1/3 Marathon during Nationals for a few years to benefit Dollars for Scholars.
Clausen also suggested a bazaar with local artisans. Other non-race activities he has seen done near other tracks include having a theater troupe perform.
Downtown events for this weekend include the Nationals Parade Saturday morning at 10 a.m. The Marion County Board of Supervisors, at a special meeting this morning, granted a permit to the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce for a craft/vendor fair on the courthouse grounds on Saturday, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.