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NASCAR scraps NYC 'victory lap' during banquet week
Instead of the victory lap, NASCAR is creating a big tailgating event (scheduled for Dec. 4). NASCAR research indicated the fans wanted to be part of something, rather than just watch it.

The new block party - one of many NASCAR-themed events scheduled that week - will close 43rd St. between 7th and 8th Avenues, for the day, and include concerts, food, race simulators, show cars and other games.

What it won't do, however, is block off traffic all around the city during rush hour on the same Friday as the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center.

"When the cars were fired up, it certainly got your attention, but we're not talking about a four-hour race," a NASCAR spokesperson said. "The lap only took a few minutes."

Last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he got e-mails - some angry - from people wondering how the city could think to grant a permit for the lap on a day already penciled in as one of the holiday gridlock alert days.

That NASCAR has scrapped the lap, but not the Big Apple, is a good thing for racing fans in the Northeast. It's also good for the city, which generated an estimated $33 million in money spent on hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions because of the NASCAR week.

NASCAR's events get underway Dec. 1, with a NASCAR Street Tour, which will have two NASCAR themed Ford vehicles touring the City and the Tri-State region. Starting Dec. 2 and running through Dec. 6, the Aflac Pit Stop Tour will hit the street with show cars in key commuter and tourist spots around the city. The Aflac Fan Fest will be staged at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square from Dec. 4 through Dec. 6. The awards banquet is Dec. 5.

NASCAR has held its annual season-ending awards banquet in New York for nearly three decades, and in recent years there's been squawking about moving it to a city where stock car racing is more accepted.

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