More than 230 motorsports journalists from around the globe will descend upon the heart of NASCAR country on Monday for the 30th annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. What started as a 1983 “experiment” with a handful of media that struggled to fill one charter bus, the four-day Tour has evolved into the nation’s premier preseason media event in professional sports.

“The NASCAR Sprint Media Tour is four days of non-stop news and a great way for fans to hear the latest about their favorite teams just a few weeks before the start of the season,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It’s the Tour’s 30th year and it’s stronger than ever, with a record number of media coming to this year’s event that features more than 20 stops throughout the four days. We’re excited to host to such a fantastic and meaningful event.”

The NASCAR Sprint Media Tour began in 1983 as a way to garner publicity for Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR at a spot on the calendar that was traditionally slow on NASCAR news. The brainchild of then Charlotte Motor Speedway publicists Ed Clark and Bob Kelly, the concept came from the now defunct Atlantic Coast Conference media tour, where media were bused to different campuses during late summer in advance of football season.

Clark, now president and general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway, remembers getting NASCAR teams to agree to host media that first year was “like pulling teeth,” but by the end of the first Tour, the teams that weren’t on the itinerary, were calling to reserve spots for the following year.

“When we did it the first year, the Tour was really more of an experiment,” said Clark. “No one knew how many media would come and we struggled to fill one charter bus. I don’t even think we did. I certainly wouldn’t have envisioned the Tour going this long and never would have envisioned it becoming such a critical component to garner exposure, not just for Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the entire sport of NASCAR.”

This year, representing countries as far as the Netherlands and Germany as well as states throughout America, credentialed participants will preview the 2012 racing season with race shop tours, interviews with drivers, crew chiefs and team owners, as well as announcements from teams in NASCAR’s top divisions and the NHRA thanks to support from Sprint and NASCAR.

More than 20 stops will keep the participating media busy over the four-day tour including visits to Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Stewart-Haas Racing, plus Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing are among the many teams that will also be making announcements.

Daily updates, including audio, video and photo galleries will be available on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s website at http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CharlotteMotorSpeedway and via Twitter at http://twitter.com/cltmotorspdwy or by following the Twitter hashtag #MediaTour.

For information on the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, contact the speedway’s communications department at (704) 455-3209.