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Tents at the races

Project Briefs | August 1, 2007 | By:

Nascar’s Nextel Cup Series events in New Hampshire draw more than 120,000 spectators, 20,000 of whom use tents provided by Christian Party Rental. Last year, as the July and September races drew near, traffic from vendors, drivers and race officials made installation difficult, but the team at Christian Party Rental already had a plan. Brian Gould, who oversaw the installations, knew that timing was crucial.

“All the tents we set up are on a courtyard outside of the track,” Gould says. “The setup is easy until we get close to the race, because later in the week we start getting all the vendors coming in, and it makes it difficult to get around. We try to get in there as early as possible and finish up as soon as we can.” The total installation time is about a week and a half. Later in the schedule, Gould brings in smaller trucks to maneuver among the traffic. Tear-down is always much easier; it usually lasts around four days.

Racing season at the track corresponds with hurricane season in the northeast U.S. The racetrack is in Loudon, N.H., where rapidly changing weather conditions, including hurricane-force winds, can change the face of a tented event. “We’ve had a few major weather issues,” Gould says. “The September race was during hurricane season—and tents didn’t fall down, but a lot of issues came up with water on the tents and flooding underneath them.”

Gould recalls that he once had to hurry to the racetrack after a bad storm on a Friday to make readjustments to all the tents before the Saturday race traffic hit. “We just tightened everything down,” he says. “The wind had been very bad. Weather is the biggest issue we have [at this event].”

Christian Party Rental relies on supplies for the Nextel Cup event from several different companies. All in all, the team sets up well over 60 tents ranging from small 20-by-20-foot vendor tents to massive 100-by-330-foot tents. The larger pole tents came from Aztec Tents in Torrance, Calif. Anchor Industries in Evansville, Ind., provided the additional pole tents and frame tents, and Eureka! in Binghamton, N.Y., supplied the smaller tents. Christian Party Rental provided lighting from its own inventory in the form of 400-watt bulbs hung from centerpoles in the larger tents, and the team used Bil-Jax staging inside the tents.

Christian Party Rental signed on to this sporting event when new ownership reorganized the way it did business. The company got its name in the door at the right time and has been installing tents at the racetrack for more than 15 years. “Our customer service has kept us in business,” Gould says. “We go crazy with that—over and above. We keep guys up [at the racetrack] the whole weekend of the race, and they basically work for the people that rent the tents from us. If they need anything done, we do it.”

Jake Kulju is a St. Paul, Minn.-based freelance writer.

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