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In and Around the Auto Club Speedway for the Pepsi 500 Weekend

M Brian LadnerCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2009

FONTANA, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Carhartt Ford crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway on February 22, 2009 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

As the haulers have already begun arriving in Fontana, it's time to look to some of the news and announcements of happenings in and around the Auto Club Speedway this week. 

Of course, with the track being less than an hour from Hollywood, several of the announcements and events are movie- or tv-oriented, beginning with the "blue-carpet" premiere of TOGETHER: The Hendrick Motorsports Story Oct. 7 to the naming of the Grand Marshals and similar positions race weekend.

The list below is by no means exhaustive but hopefully it hits the highlights of happenings in the area this week. Nor are all items official. Please contact the venues for up-to-the-minute information. 

Also, check back frequently as new driver appearances and events are being announced throughout the week. Today alone I added the Team Chevy event Friday and Saturday as well as the Elliot Sadler appearance Sunday.

Many of the snippets below are taken or derived directly from The Auto Club Speedway site, The Auto Club Speedway's Facebook site, Jayski.com's Events and Charities pages, and Fast Lap Indoor Karting's site.

Oct. 6-7: Jimmie and Chandra Johnson's third annual Jimmie Johnson Foundation (JJF) Golf Tournament is underway in San Diego, CA, with Lowe’s returning as the title sponsor. In addition, JJF will partner with Lowe’s and its Toolbox for Education initiative to distribute funds to selected K-12 educational programs in Johnson’s hometown area.

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More than 125 golfers are scheduled to attend this year’s tournament. Among last year’s celebrity guests were NASCAR drivers Casey Mears, Brian Vickers, and Juan Pablo Montoya, actor Skeet Ulrich, NHL star Chris Pronger [Philadelphia Flyers], and recording artist Nick Lachey.

Oct. 7: Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon & Dale Earnhardt Jr. are scheduled to participate in a Q&A session prior to the West Coast "Blue Carpet" premiere of TOGETHER: The Hendrick Motorsports Story at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, CA on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009. 

Check-in begins at 7:00 PM and the program begins at 8:30 PM local time. For only $99, while supplies last, fans can purchase the Hendrick Motorsports 25th Anniversary Package which also includes a reserved seat to the Pepsi 500 on Sunday, Oct. 11, pre-race pit pass & more...[visit web site for details]. For more information and tickets, visit the Auto Club Speedway web site.

Oct. 7: Kevin Harvick is scheduled to race against high school students in the Kern County Youth Racing Series at Bakersfield Speedway on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009. A special Hobby Stock race will be held at the Speedway, on the same night as the Kern County Youth Racing Series event paying $1,500 to the winner. There will be a media/celebrity race on tap as well that night. 

Adult tickets are $5.00, $3.00 for students with high school IDs, 5 and under free. Front gates open at 5:00pm with opening ceremonies at 6:00 PM local time. Track address is N Chester Ext, Bakersfield, CA. For more information, please contact the Bakersfield Speedway at (661) 393-3373 or visit their web site at Bakersfield Speedway web site.

Oct. 8: Justlin Allgaier, Marcus Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Brendan Gaughan, Jeff Gordon, Sam Hornish Jr., Kasey Kahne, Jason Keller, Crew Chief Steve Letarte, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Scott Speed, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Stremme, Brian Vickers, Steve Wallace & Michael Waltrip are scheduled to meet fans and sign autographs as part of the Stater Bros. Racefest presented by Pepsi at Auto Club Speedway on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009 from 6:15 - 8:00 PM. 

Gates open at 5:00 PM at which time autograph coupons will be handed out at each driver's display. An autograph coupon is required and the number of tickets per driver is limited.

Kurt & Kyle Busch will appear for a short Q&A session on the main stage at 6:25 PM. Jeff Gordon and Crew Chief Steve Letarte will appear for a Q&A session on the main stage at 8:00 PM local time. 

Other entertainment will include the musical acts West 10, Riverside Blues, The Southerners, and Barrage playing on-stage mixed in with the other entertainment scheduled for the night.

The Metal Mulisha Extreme Stunt Show will be held by the main stage after the gates open. SPEED TV's Steve Byrnes will kickoff the weekend with the official welcome followed by statements from Gillian Zucker and Stater Bros. VP Dennis McIntyre.

After the National Anthem is performed by Ashley Runner, Byrnes will follow with driver introductions. At 7 PM the NSCS Hauler Parade will proceed from Lot 2 to the infield.

This is the fifth year that Stater Bros. Markets has sponsored this free event to the public (admission and parking) which will be held in the Opportunity, California FanZone outside the front stretch and in the shadow of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.

Stater Bros. Racefest is scheduled from 5 :00 - 9:30 PM local time. The driver schedule is subject to change. For the latest updates on the driver schedule visit the Auto Club Speedway web site.

Oct. 8: David Ragan is scheduled to appear at the California Speed Zone on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM local time at 17871 Castleton Street, City of Industry, CA.

Oct. 9-10: Team Chevy wants you to come experience Chevy! If you are headed to the Auto Club Speedway this weekend, be sure to stop by their display and the midway.

Even better, if you are in attendance on Friday or Saturday, come take a test drive and get a complimentary Camaro t-shirt! Go to www.teamchevytestdrive.com to pre-register and get more information! 

Oct. 9: Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Scott Speed will all be kart racing to raise money for the Kyle Busch Foundation during the upcoming Pepsi 500 race weekend.

The event will be held at Fast Lap Indoor Karting in Mira Loma (minutes from the Auto Club Speedway) Friday night, Oct. 9 at 6 PM. Sign-ups are underway now. Only the first 75 drivers to sign up will have a chance to race with Busch, Logano, and Speed. At present, the site lists only 30 signup spots left for participants.

According to the site, "all participants [drivers] will get a photo with Kyle and an autographed goodie to take home." For those who would just like to come watch the festivities and help the foundation, there are specially-priced tickets for spectators. 

Oct. 9: Justin Allgaier is scheduled to sign autographs at the Penske Racing souvenir trailer on Friday, Oct. 9, 2009 at 4:30 PM local time. The trailer is located on souvenir row along the frontstretch at Auto Club Speedway.

Oct. 9: Justin Allgaier is scheduled to meet with store employees and sign autographs for fans at the Verizon Wireless store in Fontana, California on Friday, Oct. 9, 2009 from 6:00 - 7:00 PM local time. The store address is 16695 Sierra Lakes Parkway, Fontana, CA.

Oct. 10: The Auto Club Speedway announced today that Academy Award and multi-Golden Globe Award-nominated actor John C. Reilly will serve as Grand Marshal for the Copart 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 1:30 PM PDT. 

Being no stranger to NASCAR, race fans will remember Reilly in Days of Thunder and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.  Most recently on the big screen, Reilly reunited with Will Ferrell in the comedy Step Brothers. Other film credits for Reilly include Academy Award®-winning films Chicago, Gangs of New York, and The Hours.

Singer/songwriter Cassadee Pope, of pop band Hey Monday fame, will perform the National Anthem prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the Copart 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 10.

Kelly Osbourne, celebrity contestant from Dancing with the Stars and The Osbournes will serve as Honorary Starter, waving the green flag for the Copart 300 Nationwide Series race on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 11: The Auto Club Speedway has also announced that Kelsey Grammer will serve as Grand Marshal for Southern California’s Inaugural Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff race—the Pepsi 500 on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 12 PM PDT at Auto Club Speedway.

Grammer, who stars in the new ABC comedy Hank, will give the most famous command in racing "Gentlemen, start your engines" to all 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who are vying for the coveted checkered flag.

Christian Slater is slated to drive the pace car in this Sunday's Pepsi 500, the First Chase Race to be held at the Auto Club Speedway. He will be behind the wheel of the Official NASCAR 2010 Chevy Camaro Pace Car as he leads the field of 43 stock cars to the green flag on Sunday, Oct. 11, at 12 PM PT/3 PM ET, televised on ABC. 

Multi-platinum recording artist and actor Jesse McCartney will perform the national anthem prior to the race and The Hills star Audrina Patridge will serve as Honorary Starter, waving the green flag to start Sunday's race.

Oct. 11: Dale Earnhardt Jr. & Jeff Gordon are scheduled to make appearances on stage at the Hendrick Motorsports 25th Anniversary Party Zone presented by Pepsi during weekend festivities at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009. [Time TBD]

The one-time event scheduled will have limited seating. Cost for the special Sunday package on sale at Auto Club Speedway is $125 and includes Pre Race Pit Pass.

The package does not include a ticket to the race and all Party Zone guests must have a valid grandstand admission or infield ticket to enter the hospitality area.

Oct. 11: Kevin Harvick is scheduled to sign autographs for the first 150 people to purchase a No. 33 Camping World diecast for $20 on Oct. 10, 2009, from 9:00 AM until Noon, at the Camping World store located on track property at Auto Club Speedway.

Those who purchase the diecast will receive a ticket to the Kevin Harvick autograph session set to take place on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009, from 8:45 AM - 9:45 AM local time.

Oct. 11: Sam Hornish is scheduled to sign autographs at the AAA display at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 from 8:30 - 9:00 AM local time.

Oct. 11: Elliott Sadler will be in the FanZone at the Team TYLENOL display (outside turn 4, near the SPEED stage) on Sunday of the Pepsi 500 at 9:25am.

Oct. 11: Ryan Newman is scheduled to join Lefty, Kid's Club mascot for Auto Club Speedway's Reading to Race program, on the Opportunity, California FanZone stage for "story time" prior to the Pepsi 500 on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009. [Time TBD].

Available only through a free membership with the Auto Club Speedway Kid's Club, children 5-12 years old have the exclusive opportunity to participate in special events including a scavenger hunt, story time with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Newman and much more.

For more information or to join the club, visit the Auto Club Speedway web site.

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