Race enthusiasts are burning rubber to get to Gainesville this weekend for the 44th Annual NHRA Gatornationals competition.
The four-day event, which runs from today to Sunday, will be at the Autoplus Raceway at Gainesville, 11211 N. County Road 225.
Nate Cross, sales and marketing manager of Autoplus Raceway, said he expects about 100,000 spectators and 500 teams to flood the city for the competition.
Cross said drivers compete for cash prizes, which range from $5,000 to $10,000 a race, and the honor of moving to bigger races.
Spectators can pay about $150 in advance for a general admission pass.
Single-day passes are available at various prices.
With thousands of people descending onto the city this weekend, local hotels have filled up.
For Susan Perkins, general manager of the Hampton Inn on Southwest Archer Road, it’s business as usual.
Perkins estimated that about 60 percent of her rooms were booked by Gatornationals spectators.
“It’s been like this every year,” she said.
However, in the race for hotel rooms this weekend, Vanessa Michaud got left in the dust.
The 20-year-old University of Miami international finance and marketing sophomore planned to visit her friend in Gainesville with her parents but faced setbacks when she tried to find a place for her family to stay.
Her parents ended up 30 miles away in Ocala.
“There was no hotel available,” she said. “It was all full.”