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Published: Friday, 6/17/2011

Vroom at the top

For the next two weekends, the eyes of the motor-sports world will be on southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.

Today through Sunday, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., hosts NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint series races and an ARCA series race. On June 23 through June 27, Summit Motorsports Park outside Norwalk, Ohio, will host the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The events will be nationally televised.

NASCAR -- the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing -- is the biggest player in this racing extravaganza. ARCA -- the Automobile Racing Club of America -- is based in Temperance, Mich., and began in Toledo. It is a developmental league for NASCAR drivers. NHRA -- the National Hot Rod Association -- is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

NASCAR and ARCA cars race on oval tracks, reaching 200 mph on straight stretches. NHRA action is drag racing along a standing-start, quarter-mile straightaway; the most powerful dragsters can hit 320 mph for a split-second.

Oval-track enthusiasts are passionate about their sport and often aren't taken by drag racing, and vice versa. So the events will draw different sets of spectators, who will spend money in local restaurants, hotels, and other venues.

Michigan International Speedway estimates last year's races contributed about $175 million to the local economy. Summit Raceway says the NHRA event produced more than $42 million for the region last year.

That's a lot of economic horsepower.

So over the next two weekends, if you see a car or truck with race-oriented decals on the windows or bumpers, give a wave of appreciation.

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