Charlotte Motor Speedway debuted its giant new Fan Zone during Bank of America 500 Week, Oct. 12-15, and fans from all over the globe gave rave reviews for the latest family-friendly amenity added to The Greatest Place to See the Race.

Located outside Turn 1 near the speedway’s main entrance, the Fan Zone included corporate displays and entertainment, like the SPEED Stage and Sprint Experience. However, the biggest additions to the area were the souvenir rigs, which were previously located across Highway 29. Charlotte Motor Speedway made the move to alleviate some of the Highway 29 pedestrian foot traffic on race day and make it easier for fans to find all of the fun and their favorite driver’s gear in one convenient location.

Also new to the Fan Zone was the addition of the enhanced Powerade PlayZone, conveniently located for parents adjacent to the restrooms near Gate 6. The Powerade PlayZone featured the usual racing-themed inflatable slides, bounce houses and face painters, but a Ferris wheel, balloon twisters, jugglers and special Kazoobie Kazoo program were added for Bank of America 500 Week.

Fans in town for Bank of America 500 Week loved the changes. Nick Rivara from New York has been to races all over the East Coast and after loading up three sacks full of souvenirs and freebies, judged Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Fan Zone to be the best.

“Everything is in one place, but spread out enough that everyone is not on top of you,” Rivara said. “Plus, not only are there souvenir rigs, but also the sponsor stuff and the kid stuff. This track has a lot more than anywhere else.”

Rivara’s son Nick, 13, said that although he was a bit old for the kids’ activities, he thought they were a great idea.

“That big slide looks awesome,” the younger Rivara said.

Others agreed. Ellen Bonbright of Richmond, Va., said she really appreciated all the activities for her children, ages 4 and 6. The family attends several races a year together, but she said Charlotte had the best setup for families.

“For me, all this kid stuff is great,” Bonbright said. “This year, it’s just fantastic. And the best part is that most of it is free.”

Six-year-old Hannah Bonbright happily giggled while climbing in and out of a No. 18 M&M’s show car while mom talked nearby, adding her approval for the family area.

“I love the race cars!” Hannah said. “Kyle Busch is my favorite because he has M&M’s and they’re good.”

Even for those who didn’t bring their kids, the children’s area was a big hit. Ole Myhrer came to Charlotte from Norway, this time leaving his daughter at home. But after seeing the size and scope of the Fan Zone, he intends to bring her on the next trip.

“This is a very great thing for a family, having everything in one place and so much for them to do,” Myhrer said. “I was at another track last year with my daughter and it was not so fun for her. There was not much to do. She would enjoy it here much more.”

In addition to the Fan Zone, Charlotte Motor Speedway offers many other family-friendly amenities for its NASCAR events, including free Pit Passes for children 12 and under; special children’s ticket pricing that starts at just $1; and a smoke-and-alcohol-free Family Seating Section with an inflatable monster truck bounce house, face painter, caricature artist, remote control cars, appearances by Lug Nut and racing-themed booster seats.

For more information, or to purchase tickets to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s NASCAR events in May, 2012, visit charlottemotorspeedway.com or call 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

For daily updates, connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CLTMotorSpdwy or Facebook at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.