Good Sam’s Three-Day Daytona Rally
Amanda Lepinski Photos by W. Scott Mitchell
January 8, 2013
Filed under Feature Story
The weather was sunny and warm as 7,920 Good Sam members made their way in 3,545 RVs to the Daytona International Speedway in Florida last November, to enjoy the third Good Sam Rally, presented by DISH, in 2012.
The Daytona Rally was especially interactive given the location. Attendees had access to the famous 2 1/2-mile racetrack by taking a spin in demonstration motorhomes — a real treat for NASCAR enthusiasts. A large exhibit tent allowed Rally-goers to peruse the well-stocked Camping World store as well as hundreds of vendors displaying accessories, equipment and other services, products and information. Surrounding the exhibit tent were several hundred motorized and towable RVs in a variety of sizes and brands, giving enthusiasts a first look at what’s new for 2013.
As featured in all Good Sam Rallies, first-class entertainment highlighted the Daytona event. Opening night began with a motorcycle flag presentation by the Blue Knights Florida IX, law-enforcement officers, and Orlando’s Catina Mack honoring Canada and the United States with a performance of respective national anthems. Shortly after, audiences marveled at legendary singer-songwriter Kenny Rogers who serenaded the crowd with his greatest hits. As another national tribute, the Touch of Class Corvette Club sped around the racetrack with flags recognizing Good Sam’s state and provincial directors and representatives.
Saturday’s festivities began with a bang, literally. Fireworks went off and a parachutist landed in front of the stage, Good Sam flag in hand, on cue. Country superstar, Reba McEntire, belted out her many hits, and engaged the audience with her signature songs. McEntire, also a popular television star, promoted her new ABC sitcom, “Malibu Country,” by showing the first episode on stage to audiences after her performance. Good Sam Chairman and CEO, Marcus Lemonis, entertained the crowd by selecting hilarious couples for an impromptu “Newlywed Game” skit.
The raceway’s infield included Lake Lloyd, which hosted a fireworks show and screening of the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams on Sunday. Lake Lloyd, which hosts powerboat racing, also set the scene for the Rally’s first fishing derby that took place early that morning.
The final Good Sam Rally for 2012 also included a variety of special guests and seminars discussing a number of topics including satellite TV, dog training and microwave cooking. Bob Livingston, publisher of Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines, conducted his popular RVing 101 class and music jam session. Daytona’s own Hardy Smith discussed working with NASCAR for 30 years. Author of “We Answered the Call,” Colonel James Wilhite, who built a four-year university in Afghanistan, also interacted with Rally-goers.
Since Veteran’s Day was just around the corner, the Daytona Rally honored hundreds of military veterans on Sunday morning at the Salute to Veterans, as they marched behind the flag of their branch of service. Wilhite delivered inspiring, powerful words to the crowd while planes flew overhead to further honor veterans. Good Sam’s 2012 RVer of the Year and Flags4Vets founder, Fred Moore, aided in helping volunteers place flags on hundreds of graves at Daytona Memorial Park.
The RV lifestyle wouldn’t be complete without helpful cooking tips while on the road. The Good Sam Culinary Experience, sponsored by Camping World, featured the Food Network’s “The Surreal Gourmet” host, Bob Blumer, who shared creative, expert recipes and cooking tips. Blumer teamed up with Evada Cooper, host of “My RV Kitchen with Lady E” seminars and cookbook author, to give the audience tips on turning a galley into a gourmet space by using efficient storage tricks and food prep tips. It wouldn’t be a Good Sam Rally without providing man’s best friend a little entertainment, too. The Rally Dog Show included hundreds of dogs competing for a Best in Show trophy and popular Camping World prizes.
Stepping into the past, Rally-goers toured 18 classic RVs — including a 1912 Sheepherder, a 1938 REO Westcraft and a 1950 Airstream Liner — provided by Elkhart, Ind.-based RV/MH Hall of Fame in the Rally’s Vintage RV Village. By contrast, Lemonis provided his vision for the Good Sam Club’s future.
On Monday, thousands of RVers packed up and headed home after an informative, fun-filled, star-studded event that brought knowledge, new friends and experiences together for the three-day Good Sam Rally. The good news is that two Good Sam Rallies are already scheduled for 2013. The first rally will be held in Syracuse, N.Y., at the Great New York State Fairgrounds June 13-17. The second Rally will take place in Atlanta, Ga., on October 17-20. For more information or to make reservations, visit www.therally.com.