In its second year, enhancements are being made to Carolina Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including triple the lights, a longer route and a drive-on-the track experience, but visitors to the spectacular holiday light show and Christmas Village can also expect the return of some fan favorites from the show’s inaugural year.

Here is a look at what’s new for Carolina Christmas in 2011:

All-New Entrance: The biggest change returning Carolina Christmas visitors will notice is the new entrance, which will be located at zMAX Dragway. Holiday light displays will greet Carolina Christmas goers the moment they enter the dragway off Bruton Smith Boulevard and even the zMAX Dragway sign itself will be decked out with snowflake and icicle light displays. Ticket booths for Carolina Christmas will now be located at zMAX Dragway’s Ticket Booth 2 between the dragway and The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

Longer Route: The Carolina Christmas route is longer this year. Light displays will stretch from the entrance of zMAX Dragway, to the front of The Dirt Track at Charlotte and along the road underneath Highway 29 that connects The Dirt Track to the superspeedway, then continue onto the track itself and into the speedway’s infield.

Extended Drive the Track Experience: After passing under Highway 29, Carolina Christmas visitors will enter the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield at Gate 25 and immediately turn right to find themselves on the backstretch of the legendary superspeedway. Drivers will be on the track from the middle of the backstretch to Turn 1, giving Carolina Christmas goers the chance to experience the same 24-degree banking where NASCAR legends such as Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt earned their stripes over the 52-year history of the speedway.

Triple the Lights in 100 More Displays: More than 3 million LED lights in 600 different displays will line the Carolina Christmas route, including displays depicting Fairy Tale Lane, The Night Before Christmas, a Penguin Winterfest and Lowe’s Patriotic Alley.

Holiday Shopping Emporium: Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday more than 20 local vendors will offer items for sale in the new Holiday Shopping Emporium, located in the Coca-Cola Igloo in the infield. Carolina Christmas visitors can find something for just about everyone on their holiday shopping list in the Emporium, including clothing, jewelry, soaps, artwork, ornaments and collectibles.

In addition to the new features, Carolina Christmas will bring back many fan favorites from its inaugural year. The following will be open in the Christmas Village located in the infield each Thursday through Sunday:

Bethlehem Village: More than 200 volunteers from 12 area church groups will make Bethlehem Village come alive. Thirty actors and live animals will reenact a large-scale Nativity scene for Carolina Christmas visitors to enjoy.

Bojangles’ Petting Zoo and Pony Rides: Exotic and domestic animals will add a unique twist to Carolina Christmas, with the Bojangles’ Petting Zoo and pony rides provided by Rockin' A Ranch, owned and operated by Ivey and Gerald Almond, of Midland, N.C.

Santa’s Workshop: Kids can build a model car, provided by Lowe’s, in Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s elves will also give live wooden-toy-making demonstrations throughout the evening in the Santa’s Live Elf Workshop.

Marshmallow Roasting Pits: Located outside the Coca-Cola Igloo, Carolina Christmas visitors can bring their own marshmallows to roast over one of the four toasty marshmallow roasting pits, sponsored by Bank of America and created by Johnson Concrete, or they can purchase marshmallow kits with sticks or s'more kits.

Food Vendors: Other tasty treats from local vendors will await hungry Carolina Christmas goers, including brunswick stew from Big Johns BBQ in Matthews, N.C.; Dippin Dots, cotton candy and funnel cakes from Below Zero in Charlotte, N.C, mini donuts from Lil Donuts Express in Concord, N.C.; and cheeseburgers, corn dogs and fried candy bars from Creative Catering in Charlotte.

Carolina Christmas will also feature a Festival of Trees, photos with Santa and more. The holiday light show is the anchor attraction for the new Boulevard of Lights, which features nearly three miles of twinkling lights and more than 140 light pole Christmas decorations along Bruton Smith Boulevard from Concord Mills Mall to the speedway.

Operating hours for Carolina Christmas will be 6 to 10 p.m., Nov. 23 through Dec. 31, excluding Christmas Day. Tickets are available online or at the gate nightly during event hours for drive-up traffic. Admission is just $20 per car, truck or SUV, which includes admission for up to eight passengers. Group and motorcoach packages are available.

Families may also take advantage of The Speedway Club's Holiday Dinners and Carolina Christmas packages, which includes a speedway-provided ride through the Carolina Christmas display and a holiday meal.

For more information, call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
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