Family brings elaborate setup to Kentucky Speedway for the atmosphere, 'thunder of the cars'

ngray@herald-leader.comJune 28, 2014 

Amid rain and the threat of it on Saturday afternoon at Kentucky Speedway, fans waited for the Quaker State 400 and talked about what drew them to the NASCAR race.

The Tusing family first watched a race in the infield at the speedway in 2009.

Kathy and Rodd Tusing, traveling from northern Ohio, brought their two kids in their RV. Their first-year setup was no different than that surrounding many of the campers parked in the infield: a grill and a couple of tables, along with cornhole bags strewn about.

As the times have changed, the Tusing clan's presence at the track — and their setup — has grown exponentially.

The Tusings now bring six campers and 21 people, including friends and relatives, for the weekend.

The campers were parked in a circle, and the man-made courtyard included a three-part scaffold with a platform at the top that can be seen from anywhere in the campground area. Most of the group watches the races from atop the scaffold.

"It gets pretty crowded up there," Rodd Tusing said. "Some of us can go watch on the top of one of the RVs, and we got plenty of televisions too."

The scaffold is decked with a sign that read "Speed Limit — 200" along with a sign that signaled that their camping area was "Hangover Alley." Kathy Tusing and her parents — all fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. — started their race-day morning by participating in the Richard Petty Driving Experience. She estimated that the car reached 195 mph before it dove into the turn.

The family's children went to the Sprint FanZone and watched motocross drivers maneuver around a mini-course.

Others in the group continued to drink beer and play cornhole as they had done since they arrived on Wednesday night.

"I brought 8 30-packs, and I have one left," relative Stephen Hahn said.

"I brought 2 12-packs, and I have one left," family friend Adam Zorn said, adding that he arrived Friday night.

Consuming beverages and playing cornhole can be done in any person's backyard, but there is a reason why the Tusings' group spends four days and nights at the racetrack.

"Yeah, you can drink and watch it on the television, but you can't get this atmosphere from home," Hahn said. "You can't feel the thunder of the cars."

Nick Gray: (859) 231-1330. Twitter: @ngray_63

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