Drivers, start your tractor-trailers!

This year’s NASCAR hauler parade is scheduled to roll off from Legislative Mall Thursday evening. (Delaware State News file)

This year’s NASCAR hauler parade is scheduled to roll off from Legislative Mall Thursday evening. (Delaware State News file)

DOVER — Tractor-trailers aren’t usually welcome to travel down the narrow, tree-laden lanes of State Street in Dover.

However, on Thursday, Dover’s city leaders are waving the green flag for the drivers of the brightly colored NASCAR Sprint Cup Series haulers to enjoy the ride — as long as they keep it at 25 mph.

The NASCAR Hauler Parade on Thursday will officially jump-start race weekend at Dover International Speedway when the tractor-trailers rumble from their starting point at Legislative Mall at 5 p.m. to the track nicknamed “The Monster Mile.”

The hauler parade — which is free and open to the public — will start at Legislative Mall, proceed onto Legislative Avenue, take a left onto Loockerman Street and then turn right onto South State Street.

From there, the haulers will proceed to the track via Leipsic Road to arrive for the weekend’s racing festivities at Dover’s high-banked, one-mile racetrack at around 5:45 p.m.

“This is a great event for the fans and we’re excited to be able to bring it back,” said Mike Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway. “Colorful haulers have been a symbol of the sport for decades, and we’re pleased to be able to share their appeal with local fans and the community.

“It’s a wonderful kickoff to what’s sure to be another great race weekend.”

Unfortunately for residents of Dover, the NASCAR Hauler Parade has had about as much luck being completed in recent years as a fireworks display this year in the capital city.

The first hauler parade in Dover was held in 2013 and attracted an estimated 10,000 people along the route and featured dozens of 80-foot tractor trailers traveling through the city. Parades were also scheduled in 2014 and 2015 but were canceled due to inclement weather.

As of Monday evening, the National Weather Service forecasts a 70 percent chance of showers on Thursday.

“You know when NASCAR or the Delaware State Fair are happening in Delaware to be sure to pack an umbrella,” said Allan Scrutchfield, of Hartly. “Seriously though, it is pretty cool to see the race car haulers go through town.

“It’s a neat event to get race weekend started. Then on Sunday it will be time to ‘unleash the hounds!’”

The parade is sure to draw curious people and it’s a fun event for children who will get a chance to get close to their heroes’ race haulers.

Tamra Price-Callaway works at the Townsend Building adjacent to Legislative Mall. She said she’ll take a peek at the NASCAR haulers.

“I’ll check it out,” Mrs. Price-Callaway said. “I’d say people enjoy downtown because it’s accessible, with easy parking and lots of places to sit. It’s actually beautiful downtown and that might be a draw also.”

Randall, Grunden, a Kyle Busch fan who lives in Bear, won’t be able to attend the hauler parade because of work obligations.

“What I think attracts people to come out and see the haulers is the different and unique designs of the cars,” said Mr. Grunden, an administrative assistant at Hertrich Hyundai and Mitsubishi in New Castle. “Also, some of the haulers’ paint jobs change from year to year.”

This weekend’s slate of NASCAR racing at Dover includes the K&N Pro Series East race on Friday, the “Drive Sober 200” presented by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety Xfinity Series race on Saturday and the “Citizen Soldier 400” Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday.

The Sprint Cup race is the first elimination race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. For four of the 16 title-seeking drivers, championship dreams will screech to a halt when the checkered flag waves at Dover.

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