CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- We all know the saying, love what you do and you won't work a day of your life.
That certainly is the case for Arlene Stone. She has worked at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for 48 years and witnessed it grow into what is now regarded as one of the most renowned racetracks in the world. But her passion for racing didn't take the green flag right away.
"When I first came here in '69 it was just for a job," Stone said. "I didn't know I was going to be here this long, all these years."
Stone started her career selling programs and souvenirs in a small, white, two story house located in front of the track.
"Our whole family worked in it," Stone said. "My late husband, my sister-in-law Marie, our aunts and when the children got older they all had souvenir stands here."
But over the years, Stone's love of the sport has developed along with an impressive collection of memories and racing memorabilia.
Stone has pamphlets from the first Coca-Cola 600 race, a rock from the original ticket office's fireplace, car tags, driver badges and awards for her time and service to the speedway.
"This is like my second home," Stone said.
Stone had her first ride in a race car with NASCAR driver Neil "Soapy" Castles, worked the first race ever that had overhead lighting, befriended many drivers like Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty and watched as multiple movies and shows were filmed at the raceway like Days of Thunder, Talladega Nights, and American Idol.
After nearly half a century at the speedway, some would think that Stone would be slowing down. But any of her tour goers know that certainly isn't the case, as she zips her van around the racetrack at speeds that make you check if your seatbelt is on.
"The fans always ask me, since I've been here so long how many laps I've had around the track," Stone said. "I have no idea! I always say probably more than some of the race car drivers."
With the development of the track came the development of Stone's reputation.
"I have what they call probably a following," Stone said. "People from all over the United States come and they ask for me to take a tour. Even Canada."
In early June, a race fan returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway after 20 years and requested his second tour with Stone.
"We try to make them happy, the fans are a special type of breed... There's a lot of memories here," Stone said. "Some of the other drivers like to say I came in with the first load of dirt or I was directing the paving of the track, I ate lunch with George Washington. I mean they have so many stories about me."
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