CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- People across the nation and in Charlotte are gearing up for race weekend.

At Charlotte Motor Speedway, it's a sea of campers, despite the chilly conditions this week. Many started arriving as early as Monday.

Thursday night the races kick off with cup qualifying. It all leads up to the big race under the lights on Saturday night with the Bank of America 500.

Charlotte Motor Speedway never gives specific attendance figures, but a spokesperson said, even with the down economy, they are expecting a good attendance, comparable to last year.

Mary Shapiro and her family have been to a number of tracks so far this season.

You know, the economy has definitely made a difference but you still get more people at a NASCAR race than you do at most football games, she said.

Those who do come and camp days ahead of the race are in many cases older retirees with some disposable income.

People like Jack Rutherford who was taking a spin in his golf cart with his dog Tater sitting on the seat beside him.

We are just riding around meeting people and greeting people, said Rutherford, who added that that's a large part of the fun of race week.

The speedway really caters to these campers. There are activities all week long including potluck dinners, campsite decoration contests and chapel services.

Many as the campers are from as far away as places like Delaware and Pennsylvania.

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