Thousands of NASCAR fans were able to discover the distinctive, natural beauties that surround Homestead as they attended last year’s racing season, thanks to the joint efforts of the Homestead-Miami Speedway and the Homestead National Parks Trolley. The project was born out of a unique partnership spearheaded by Vice Mayor Stephen R. Shelley, in which the City of Homestead, the Florida National Parks Association, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park joined Homestead-Miami Speedway to bring NASCAR fans free guided trolley tours to the National Parks, as well as educational displays during the races.
At the January 21st Special Council Presentation, the Florida National Parks Association, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park presented a plaque to Mr. Matt Becherer, President, and Mr. Al Garcia, Vice President of Operations at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as a form of gratitude. Thanks to this partnership, NASCAR fans enjoyed the National Parks Tours with special routes running from the Homestead-Miami Speedway RV Lot to both Everglades and Biscayne National Parks.
Vice Mayor Shelley also gifted them a special edition City of Homestead race car, branded with the logos of the Homestead National Parks Trolley and the Gateway to Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. It’s a one-of-a-kind remote-controlled Chevy, lovingly named the “Gateway Pace Car.”
“Thousands of families from around the U.S. come to the race every year,” said Vice Mayor Shelley. “It was important to us to show them more of what Homestead has to offer and the Homestead National Parks Trolley is a perfect way to do it. I hope these families got a taste of something they normally wouldn’t get to see on race weekend and plan a return trip to Homestead and our neighboring National Parks in the future.”
In addition to the special routes, the entire weekend featured displays at the Speedway from both Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and Florida National Parks Association. Park Service Rangers were present on vendor row to educate fans about the wildlife and habitats found in the parks. Interactive displays included touch tables, a fun roulette trivia wheel, giveaways, and the NPCA mascot, Teddy! In addition, an educational video about the National Parks and the Homestead National Parks Trolley was displayed on the screens for thousands of NASCAR followers to see.
Superintendent Brian Carlstrom at Biscayne National Park expressed his hopes that this new partnership will continue for many years to come. In 2016, the National Park Service turns 100 years old, and according to Carlstrom “the goal during that centennial year of the Park Service is to invite new visitors to explore, learn, discover and be inspired.” This kind of partnership and support from organizations like the Homestead-Miami Speedway furthers the centennial mission by introducing new demographics of followers to the National Parks.