Let’s give a toast: Beer, wine to be sold for first time at NHRA’s Gatornationals


For years, one of the NHRA’s most popular races of the season, the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida, has been a dry island unto itself.

In other words, the 75,000 or so race fans that come out for the annual race weekend have been unable to toast their favorite drivers when they win because beer and wine sales at Auto Plus Raceway have long been outlawed there by Alachua County officials.

No more. The Gators just got wet, so to speak — and we’re not talking about the heavy mid-March rains that seem to impact the race every year.

According to the local Gainesville Sun, fans attending the 46th edition of the Gatornationals (March 12-15, 2015) will for the first time be able to buy beer and wine after county commissioners voted unanimously to rezone the 452-acre property from alcohol-free “agriculture” to “planned development” that allows alcohol sales.

The Gatornationals have been one of only a few national sporting events that have been unable to sell beer and wine.

With the county’s blessing, beer and wine sales will help the NHRA’s bottom line (you can bet the county will also get its share through taxes, liquor licenses, etc.).

But there appears to be a catch.

Race fans will finally be able to enjoy a cold one at the Gators, but apparently not in the grandstands.

Rather, plans are under way to offer a large beer garden, the only place where fans will likely be able to consume their favorite beverage, according to the Sun’s story.

Still, it’s progress. Maybe if things go well in 2015, beer/wine sales might finally be able to be sold at concession stands in 2016.

In a side note, RV owners will finally be able to come and set up their camp sites two days before the event starts and can stay two days after it ends for the first time. Up to now, RV owners/campers could only come onto racetrack property one day before the event began and had to get out one day after it ended.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski