Perdue was joined by a host of special guests on hand to watch the bill signing ceremony, including Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway; NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Bobby Allison; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan; and a group of fourth and fifth grade students from Lake Norman Elementary School and Mt. Mourne IB School in Iredell County, who originated the bill. In addition, 12 grassroots Legend Car and Bandolero drivers, industry leaders and dignitaries who are members of the North Carolina Motorsports Advisory Council and Charlotte Motor Speedway fans were in attendance.
"Sometimes it takes really bright kids to tell all of us grown-ups what we ought to be doing. And that's what these students are about today," said Perdue. "They found something that should have been right under our noses because we all love NASCAR, we love Charlotte Motor Speedway, we get really excited during race season. So it's pretty cool for these students to understand that we needed to do better."
The students worked to get the legislation passed for more than a year and the bill was ratified last week by the state's General Assembly. In proposing the legislation, the students pointed to motorsports' $6 billion annual economic impact to North Carolina and noted that Charlotte, N.C., and the surrounding region is home to Charlotte Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and more than 90 percent of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. More than 200 businesses in Cabarrus County support the motorsports industry, which employs nearly 20,000 people in the region.
"It feels really good to know that the bill has finally passed and nobody disagreed with making stock car racing North Carolina's state sport, it feels really rewarding," said Sierra Bice, a student at Lake Norman Elementary School.
North Carolina now joins other U.S. states with an official state sport, including Alaska (dog mushing); Colorado (snowboarding and skiing); Massachusetts (basketball); Minnesota (hockey); and South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming (rodeo).
"When you think about North Carolina and you think about racing, it really has been unofficially the state sport for so long and I think today to have the governor sign a bill that makes racing the official state sport is really neat and special," said Smith. "It's an exciting time and a real privilege for Charlotte Motor Speedway to be such a big part of the governor's trip today."