Watkins Glen vendors chasing NASCAR fans

By Kelly McCarthy

August 9, 2013 Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 6:32 PM EDT

Watkins Glen, NY (WBNG Binghamton) NASCAR fans are making their way to Watkins Glen this weekend to catch some of the biggest races of the year. Along with thousands of fans comes a burst of life to the town's main street, but vendors must make adjustments when there aren't as many fans visiting as in years past.

In the days leading up to big races at Watkins Glen International, its downtown used to be packed with NASCAR fans.

"Here?" said Jay Smith, owner of Erin's Way, "10 years ago it used to be electric. Now, horrible. I hate to say it but flush the toilet it's down the drain."

Vendors said over the past few years there have been fewer crowds coming downtown during a big race weekend.

"When the fans go away," said Stephen Harrison, employee at Rudy's Racing, "Vendors will go away, so it's hand in hand."

If there are fewer fans, they are certainly not any less dedicated.

"For our house we're mainly NASCAR," said Sarah Krotz of Ellicottville, "We don't watch football, basketball, or any of those we are a strictly NASCAR family."

The Krotz family came to spend a weekend at the raceway, and are hoping to get a few souvenirs to show for it.

"We're looking for Jimmy Johnson and Danica Patrick," Krotz said, "And Jeff Gordon, so we'll see what we can find."

Vendors line North Franklin Street every year with tents and all kinds of NASCAR apparel Some vendors have better luck selling football and baseball gear to get more sales out of customers.

"I make the most money," Smith said, "I sell the football, the baseball, the apple pie, the Chevrolet. They sell NASCAR and they can't figure it out, and they sell NASCAR the next week and can't figure it out."

Among the crowds that still make it to the raceway, buying merchandise is all part of being a true fan.

"They want to support their driver and they want to support NASCAR," Harrison said, "It's what they've done for years and years and years."

Vendors said that despite the drop in crowds they will continue to come to Watkins Glen every year. The big race this weekend will be on Sunday at 1 pm.