BANGOR, Maine — The fifth annual Fireball Run, a 2,500-mile nationwide road race held each September, will roll into Maine for the first time this year and wave the checkered flag on 40 race teams in Bangor.
“This is a huge deal, in my opinion,” said Kerrie Tripp, executive director of the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a live-action filmed event and a lot of traveling press and national media follow this, so it’s a great chance for us to showcase our city.”
Tripp said Bangor also will benefit economically from the race, officially titled “Fireball Run Adventurally Northern Exposure” this year.
“It’s hard to measure the exact economic impact number, but I’d say it could mean as much as $100,000 or more to our area,” she said. “The big benefit we get is exposure and publicity, which can be invaluable to us with all the great things we have going on in the community right now.”
Saturday, Sept. 29, is the scheduled date of the race’s finish, which will be set up in downtown Bangor.
“This is already starting to get a lot of press, and many local business and organizational members and leaders are lining up to get behind it,” said Tripp, noting the city of Bangor, the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, Mobilize Eastern Maine and Eastern Maine Development Corp. already have lent or confirmed their support.
The race will feature a team from Maine for the first time but Tripp is keeping that under wraps until a press conference Friday morning at the Cole Land Transportation Museum.
This is the first time the eight-day race, which will begin Sept. 21, has ventured into New England. The Fireball Run is open to 50 teams but only 40 will get in gear and drive through eight communities in eight days this time around.
The race also takes place in a different region of the country each year. The other Northeast cities the race will pass through this year have not yet been announced.
One could think of the event as a cross between the “Cannonball Run” movie and “The Amazing Race” television show.
“There are a lot of similarities, but it’s not just a race from point A to point Z, because they don’t want to encourage people to be on the roads at breakneck speed,” Tripp said. “They even use GPS devices in all cars to make sure they’re not going too fast.”
Also, Tripp said, the teams have to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts, finding certain items, performing certain tasks and taking photos of themselves at locations along the race route.
Race representatives, including executive producer J. Sanchez, came to Bangor to tour and scout the area last November. Apparently they liked what they saw.
“In our opinion, it is the plum spot to host on the entire race course layout,” Tripp said. “It’s our hope they’ll want to stay awhile after the race is over. We also get to have the final party for all the participants and local folks will have a chance to win tickets to go.”
Cars involved in the race can be anything from Corvettes to Bentleys and Ferraris to SUVs. The race also usually showcases famous vehicles such as the Batmobile or the DeLorean from the movie “Back to the Future.”
The Fireball Run is also a fundraiser for the Race to Recover America’s Missing Children charity, which supports efforts to find and return missing children to their families. Team members are required to post fliers and other information in the communities they visit.
“So far, 38 children have been found through this race,” said Tripp.