Charlotte Motor Speedway makes commitment to locally-made apparel
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CONCORD, N.C. -- Charlotte Motor Speedway is offering more American-made gear to race fans than ever before.
On the heels of the controversy over the discovery that U.S. Olympic uniforms were made in China, The speedway is letting fans know the majority of gift shop souvenirs are made in the USA.
At Jensen apparel in Albemarle, workers produce an average of 60,000 T-shirts every month.
"All types of T-shirts -- long sleeve, short sleeve, pockets Ts," said Archie Blalock with Jensen Apparel.
About 20,000 of those are bought by Charlotte Motor Speedway every year.
"We're really proud to really have made a concerted effort in the last two to three years to find more made-in-America suppliers," said Scott Cooper, VP of Communications at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Cooper said this year, more than half of Charlotte Motor Speedway merchandise is made in the USA, including all of its speedway-branded or event-related shirts -- the most popular item among race fans.
"Your T-shirt is always your No. 1 seller," he said.
It’s one reason why he said they feel it's so important to produce them not just in America, but in North Carolina.
"NASCAR is certainly a 'Born in the USA' sport, so we think it's important to have a lot of American-made products," said Cooper.
Blank shirts from Jensen apparel are sent to Harrisburg, where the speedway’s parent company, SMI Properties, screen prints CMS and event-specific apparel.
"Us being local is huge. The vast majority of these people here grew up around here and for us to be able to reengage the economy is fantastic," said Dan Chittock with SMI Properties.
Even the ink is American made. Cooper admits purchasing merchandise from overseas would be cheaper than those bought at home.
"A T-shirt could be double what it would cost to produce one of the T-shirts we could get and purchase the blanks from overseas, but we feel like making that commitment is important," he said.
A commitment felt not just by fans, but to the region.
"It makes you feel like people do care about you and the job, we try to do a good quality shirt," said Blalock.
The speedway is also partners with a Winston-Salem based Sustain-U, a provider of American-made apparel produced from 100 percent recyclable material.