Cover Story: Destination Charlotte

CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - People from around the world are in town and it's not for a race.

The GoodGuys Southeastern Nationals are underway.

It's one of many events held at the track that doesn't involve Sprint Cup.  Even though it's not NASCAR, these events bring in a lot of money for area businesses.

There's big money in the off-season.

You're used to seeing cars race around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and mid-October but it's almost Halloween.

And they were racing cars in the autocross course at the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals on Friday.  A three-day auto show featuring hot rods customs and classics.

And next weekend the big event is the Lowe's Foods World of Outlaw World Finals at The Dirt Track.

It's a full-course meal at the track right now.  You can count the plates:  Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, Arkansas and Montana.

Scott Cooper is with Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"It's not just what the Speedway brings to the table during race months but it's also some of these smaller events still draw an incredible audience," says Cooper.

A estimated crowd of 75,000 over the course of this weekend and next will be taking in the events at the track.

And it's not strictly an American audience.

Speedway officials say they've sold tickets to people from all over the world.  From Canada, from countries in Europe the United Kingdom and Netherlands two of them, and as far away as Australia.

Tracy Aldridge, senior vp of sales and services for the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says he's not surprised.

"If you're an enthusiast of automotive activities you know when these are taking place. So they may not be on the radar for the average consumer but if you're an enthusiast you know that we're here and what's happening here year round," says Aldridge.

And all those people are boosting Charlotte's economy.  Spending money on airplane tickets, staying in hotels, buying gas and going shopping.

We found Fred Abraham going over the classic he drove in from central Ohio, drawn here for the Goodguys event, but he'll get around Charlotte too.

"Mainly spending days here. And at night just enjoy the downtown and all of that. Some of the bars and whatever.. place to eat, drink and have fun.  And spend some money.. right here in Charlotte."

The Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau told us they've been working with state tourism officials for years on missions overseas to countries like Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada to market the region not only for the big races but also for the events in the Charlotte region during the off-season.

Copyright 2011 WBTV. All rights reserved.