BANGOR, Maine — Bangor leaders played host on Monday and Tuesday to producers of the Fireball Run, a nationwide road race held every September. J. Sanchez, executive producer of the race, was in town, scoping out the Queen City as a potential finale location for next year’s race, set for Sept. 21-29, 2012. A decision on whether Bangor will be selected will be made on Dec. 15.
The race, open to 50 teams, crosses 2,500 miles in eight days and showcases some of the fastest, flashiest, most famous cars out there. Each year organizers choose eight communities for the race to stop in. Last year, it was cities in the Southeast; this year, it’s cities in the Northeast.
Sanchez and company were taken on a whirlwind tour of the area, from the Standpipe and Paul Bunyan to Fort Knox and downtown Bangor, along with a tour of Acadia National Park, led by lumberjill and former “Survivor” contestant Timber Tina.
“We like a lot of things about Bangor,” said Sanchez. “We love the downtown. It’s beautiful. It’s like a movie set. We always look at the economic vibrancy and the quality of life in the places we visit, and Bangor definitely has both those things.”
Sanchez characterized the Fireball Run as an action-packed week of community-oriented events designed to challenge participating teams and spotlight the cities the race visits.
“It’s an interactive adventure that’s equal parts scavenger hunt and ‘The Amazing Race’ — except way more adrenaline-packed,” said Sanchez. “Along the way, we visit communities and locations that don’t often get to be in the spotlight. We get to see the rest of America, not just big cities. A lot of the drivers say it’s a lot more interesting to visit a place like Bangor than New York or Los Angeles.”
Cars participating in the race can range from Chevrolet Suburbans and Camaros to Lamborghinis and Bentleys — and even famous rides from film and television such as the Delorean from “Back to the Future” or the General Lee from “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Teams complete challenges in each location that have something to do with its history and culture. The entire race is filmed and later edited into a full-length movie.
The Fireball Run raises money for the Race to Recover America’s Missing Children, a charity that support efforts to locate and return missing children to their parents or guardians. To date, the charity has helped find 38 abducted children.
“We want to do the right thing and make sure this race is about more than just cars,” said Sanchez. “We’re proud to support a great cause like this one.”
Sanchez met with community leaders Tuesday morning, including Bangor’s newly sworn-in mayor, Cary Weston, and economic development director Tanya Pereira.
“Something like this is exactly the direction we want to go in,” said Weston. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase Bangor on a national scale. We’re at a point where we really can embrace all these opportunities as they pop up. We can’t wait to find out what happens.”
Pereira said the Fireball Run was right in line with things such as the Senior League World Series and the American Folk Festival in terms of important opportunities for the city.
“Not only could it be a lot of fun, but it’s also a fantastic promotional and economic opportunity for us,” said Pereira. “People will see Bangor on the race, and think, ‘Hmm, I could visit there again’ or ‘I could relocate my business there.’ We’ve got our fingers crossed.”