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NASCAR parade set for Harrisburg

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A NASCAR-themed truck parade will help start the summer tourism season in Harrisburg and in the state.

The “NASCAR Hauler Parade” on June 5 will feature the popular tractor-trailers that carry the NASCAR race cars, equipment and gear for races. The haulers will be on display at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center from 10 to 11:30 a.m., then the trucks will make their way to the Capitol in downtown Harrisburg.

From there, they will travel to Interstate 81 to start the trip to Pocono Raceway in Tunkhannock Township, Monroe County, for the Pocono 400 at the track.

The parade is expected to draw out-of-town NASCAR fans to the region ahead of the June 8 Pocono 500 race, tourism officials said at a Monday news conference. About 15 to 20 haulers will be on display at the event, Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett said.

Pocono Raceway President and CEO Brandon Igdalsky said Central Pennsylvania is a hotbed of NASCAR fans who continually support the track, and there has been increased NASCAR presence in the midstate recently. In 2013, Metro Bank Park hosted a NASCAR celebrity softball game, and a 2014 celebrity game at Santander Stadium in York scheduled for last week was canceled because of rain.

Strict NASCAR rules, Igdalsky said, don't allow the haulers to divert far from the fastest routes to a track. The haulers will be coming in to Pennsylvania from Charlotte, N.C., and Harrisburg is on that route in the I-81 corridor.

“It's a way to touch the whole state,” he said, adding that both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were too far off the route to be considered. “This fit perfect for us.”

The announcement started the annual Pennsylvania Tourism Summit, part of National Tourism week. The state announced Monday its 2012 tourism industry sales hit $38.4 billion, a 3.8 percent rise from 2011. Tourism visitors also grew to 192.3 million in 2012. 2013 numbers were unavailable.

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