“It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend,” said Shannon Matus, event chairman.
Sunny skies and no headwind helped the drivers at Chase Field Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including Sean Kennedy as he raced in a Ford GT down the mile runway.
This car’s stock 5.4-liter V-8 had been replaced by an Accufab Racing engine, force-fed by a pair of Precision Turbochargers, allowing it to reach 257 mph, setting not only a track record but a standing mile world record Sunday.
“Now we are going to have to change all of our shirts and logos,” Matus said.
The old logo sported the track’s previous top speed of 255.
Matus said excitement is already building among the professional drivers as they anticipate the next Texas Mile coming to Chase in October.
“It is not enough of a record that everybody says I won’t be able to beat that,” she said. “It is definitely going to bring out some out high-end competition.”
For many, it is this thrill of the race and adrenaline rush of seeing some of the fastest cars in the world that keeps them coming back.
In fact, Matus said, this is the largest crowd she has seen at Chase Field.
“Saturday was absolutely packed with spectators,” she said. “I think in October it is going be even more. We are getting a lot more phone calls.”
Businesses too benefited from the Mile’s presence.
Matus said that she spoke to numerous owners and they were thrilled with the response, including those at the Dog and Bee.
“This has been the highest amount of business they have seen since they opened,” Matus relayed from a conversation with a manager at the British pub downtown. “It seems the Around the Town event was a great success for the businesses.”
Around Town on Saturday Night was a promotion coordinated by Beeville Main Street to encourage businesses in the city to work together to offer promotions to draw Mile racers and fans downtown.
“I think this was the most successful event from a business standpoint,” Matus said.
For those fans at Chase, this year’s race offered something even more unusual — a biodiesel motorcycle that smells like the ocean and an electric car.
“The event has really become a proving ground,” she said.
While Matus enjoys the race, she does this for another reason.
“I love the platform that we have to make an impact in so many different ways,” she said. “I am really excited about that.”
Students from Coastal Bend College were there during check-in, shadowing and learning not only from the racers but those technicians hired to inspect the cars prior to allowing them on the track.
The Wounded Warrior Program also brought down a handful of soldiers from San Antonio.
“It is close enough to their base in San Antonio for them to bring them out and have a day out with their families,” Matus said.
A local Girl Scout troop also set up shop at the Mile selling cookies to munching fans.
Even her fledgling job shadowing program with A.C. Jones High students and at-risk students is taking off.
“It is the things like that that provide a true legacy,” she said. “These are not the things that provide the headlines. Something that affects a person’s life... it’s the behind-the-scenes things that make a real difference.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.