In recognition of the fastest-growing minority in the United States, H.A. ¿Humpy¿ Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe¿s Motor Speedway, announced plans to host the speedway¿s inaugural Cinco de Mayo Festival on Sunday, May 4, to celebrate and showcase Latino culture.

The Cinco de Mayo Festival, utilizing the speedway¿s massive 75-acre infield, will feature various elements including: live music showcasing top Latino bands; vendors selling native arts, crafts and clothing; and authentic Latin American cuisine along with beer gardens. A Latino-themed, custom car show will also be part of the festivities. In addition, numerous fun activities, including a carnival midway, are planned for children.

Anchoring the festival, two top-level musical acts have been booked to perform. Los Huracanes del Norte, a popular Northern Mexican band, and Grupo Niche, a popular Latin-Rock band, will headline the main music stage while local mixed bands will perform on side stages.

Wheeler said the growth of the Latino population nationwide, especially in the Charlotte region, stimulated plans to bring a large, cultural entertainment event to the 43-year-old venue made famous by NASCAR stock car racing.

The current U.S. Hispanic population is estimated to be 35.3 million; a 56-percent increase in the past 10 years. In North Carolina, the Hispanic population is nearly 400,000, an increase of 394 percent during the past decade. During that same period, Charlotte has enjoyed the second-highest growth rate in the nation with a 614-percent increase.

¿You simply can¿t ignore this incredible growth and the positive contributions Latin Americans are bringing to our communities,¿ said Wheeler. ¿They enjoy a good image, strong work ethic and are major contributors to our economic growth in various regions across the country. This will be a national event with people coming locally and from long distances. I see it expanding into a three-day event in the near future.¿

The festival will open at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, with children 12 and under free.

Wheeler said the speedway staff will prepare for 100,000 people. As with other major speedway events, Wheeler plans to implement an aggressive event promotion and advertising plan, utilizing billboards, radio, TV and newspapers that service key Latino market areas.

The speedway has also retained Violeta Moser of ReMark, Inc., a company specializing in Latin American marketing, to assist in organizing and producing the event.

¿We want to put our best foot forward and make sure everyone has a great time at the speedway,¿ said Wheeler. ¿For most, it will be their first speedway experience. Hopefully, we can cultivate their interest in our other events as well, including AutoFairs and our NASCAR races.¿

Information on the Cinco de Mayo Festival can be obtained by contacting the Lowe¿s Motor Speedway Events Department at (704) 455-3205.