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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) -
Two of North Carolina's biggest industries closely linked together, but in changing times they are getting farther apart. Charlotte Motor Speedway has just announced that smoking would no longer be allowed in the grandstands or concourses areas on any of its property.
"Smoking is still allowed at CMS, but for 2013 the grandstands and concourses will be smoke free," Speedway Vice President Tim Schuldt told WBTV.
Butt out, unless it's on the track or in a designated smoking lounge, race engines will be the only kind of firing up you'll see at Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMAX Dragway, or the Dirt Track.
What do fans say about it?
"This is a family oriented thing to me and I don't think it's a good thing to be smoking around small children," said Brian Blakely Parker of Gaffney, SC.
"It's been long overdue and I'm glad it's here," said Concord's Toriano Gray.
Gray is a fan, but also a member of the track's Fan Council. It's a group that makes suggestions to track officials after each event, and for Gray, getting cigarettes out of the grandstand has been a priority.
And according to Schuldt, lots of other fans feel the same way.
"By far the number one request over the past four years has been to eliminate smoking in our grandstands and concourse areas," Schuldt told WBTV.
The smoking lounges are being set up at different locations at each of the tracks.
"With big screen TV's, beverage service, they can enjoy a cigarette and go back to their seats when they're done," Schuldt added.
For many it's another sign, like a faded advertisement for the Winston Cup Series at the old North Wilkesboro Speedway, that racing's past may not be part of it's future.
"We're living in different times, the world is changing," Gray added.
The new policy goes into effect for the events this year at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
How will it be enforced? Ushers will direct those found smoking in the grandstands to the nearest smoking lounge, and repeat offenders will be asked to leave.