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Since 1994, Labor Day weekend has always meant the top kart racers in the country will be coming to Rock Island, Illinois for the Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix. So many former racers have moved on to successful careers in motorsports that the Quad-Cities is well known to many in the upper echelon of the sport too. The Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix is simply the most prestigious karting street race in the world and has been for decades.
"It's been a wild ride," admitted Roger Ruthhart, president of the Grand Prix's steering committee.
"A lot has happened over that time. There have been a lot of great events, a lot of great racers and racing, a lot of great sponsors supporting what we do, and, most of all, a lot of great volunteers that come back year after year to keep these races running. Every year now, I say it's like getting the family together for Christmas. From our varied backgrounds and busy lives, and from different parts of the country, we reunite every Labor Day Weekend for this one purpose."
THERE IS A RESON WHY WE HAVE A HISTORY
The goal always has been to offer the most fun anyone will have in karting, on and off the track. As hundreds of drivers and spectators have attested, the races in Rock Island have delivered just that with a carnival-like atmosphere among the most-popular refrains.
"I think that's why you see so many racers bring their families, friends and sponsors with them,” said Ruthhart. We're not out in the middle of a cornfield somewhere like most karting events. There's more than just the racing to enjoy. It's so much more than just a day at the races." For some the fun goes on into the night.
The Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix will again be run on a 7/10ths of a mile race course using the downtown city streets of Rock Island, Illinois. It’s like an IndyCar or Formula 1 street race except on a much smaller scale. It features 2 cycle and 4 cycle engine classes, six-speed gearbox karts hitting speeds of 80 MPH or more, and vintage karts from prior to 1985. Over the years, the race has attracted racers from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Costa Rica, England, France, Italy, the Philippines and Poland. From the sponsor perspective, racers come from all over the country and are likely to spend many weekends in their truck, RV or toter pulling a trailer full of gear, while maintaining equipment in between. Not all have easy access to kart parts stores so rely on auto parts, hardware and megastores for the repair parts they need.
Among the high-profile professionals who have raced at Rock Island are Scott Speed, the last American Formula 1 driver who also raced with NASCAR as well as Global and American Rallycross and Formula E; IndyCar drivers Graham Rahal, Conor Daly, Nelson Phillippe and Phillipe Giebler; sports car racer and NASCAR Cup Series driver Joey Hand; Anna Chatten, long-time IndyCar mechanic who was the first woman over the wall in Pit Lane at the Indianapolis 500; Cal Stewart, a shock technician for Hendrick Motorsports; and Michelle Bumgarner, the Asian Karting Queen from the Philippines, who became the first female winner at Rock Island (winning twice), the 7th foreign-born winner, and later raced in Indy Lights and Pro Mazda.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
Bring thousands of racing fans into the Quad-Cities. According to ongoing studies done by Datafy for Visit Quad-Cities, the local tourism organization, the race attracts 14,000 spectators from 26 states. Outside of Illinois and Iowa, most spectators come Indianapolis, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis areas. Besides the QC's, the next largest in-state numbers come from Chicago, Cedar Rapids-Waterloo, Des Moines-Ames and Peoria-Bloomington.
Benefit from a sponsor deal with Mediacom that from June to September airs over 3,000 TV spots in Illinois, Iowa and southern Wisconsin,
Attract guests, 41 percent of which earn $100,000 and over, and 36 percent of which are age 45-64, with 27 percent ages 25-44, according to Datafy.
Attract more than one hundred professional karters and their accompanying crews, most of which regularly travel and will leave talking about the companies that supported the race.
Be professionally run with the support of top national race officials and hundreds of volunteer hours.
Boost the Labor Day Weekend occupancy of hotels throughout the area and increase the business of restaurants, shops and entertainment establishments.
Attract a wide range of media attention and news coverage including a live webcast. Promotion leading up to the event includes thousands of regional tv spots as well as local TV and radio promotion to assure a good turnout.
Make Labor Day in Rock Island one of the top holiday weekend attractions in the Midwest.
Have a positive local impact on the economy with an annual economic impact of $1.9 million, according to Datafy.
An Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix sponsorship has proven to be a solid, sure-fire way to promote a business to thousands of spectators and hundreds of racers. Most of our sponsors have been with us for many years. This event has become one of the premier events in North American kart racing. Don’t miss the opportunity to have your company in the center of attention.