QUINCY -- The crowd for Saturday's opening round of the Grand Prix of Karting at South Park began arriving before dawn.
"We started running shuttles at 6 a.m.," said Dave Comer, one of the many members of the event staff who assisted with transportation of fans and overall crowd control.
Allen Motley of Pittsfield was one of the early arrivals. He didn't want to miss anything.
"This is history," Motley said. "This kind of thing just doesn't happen everywhere. It's like the ‘500' in Indianapolis. This is really neat."
The Grand Prix was a signature event in Quincy from 1970-2001. Motley said he had waited patiently during the event's 17-year absence, and wanted to be on hand to experience all that accompanied the rebirth of the Grand Prix.
Scott Barnes of Pembroke, Bermuda, is the lone competitor this weekend outside the continental United States.
"We got his entry late in the week," organizer Terry Traeder said. "Is that cool, or what?!"
States that are represented on the drivers' list this weekend include Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, California, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Georgia and Arkansas.
Among the long list of winners during the original years of the Grand Prix of Karting were current NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray and IndyCar hotshoes Mark Dismore and Alex Barron.
Another famous karting winner in Quincy -- but not in the Grand Prix -- is this weekend's special guest, former Indy Car driver and U.S. Motorsports Hall of Famer Scott Pruett.
"This is such an historic race, and it's awesome to see it back," Pruett said.
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One of the familiar faces Saturday was Maroline Long, who has worked at every Grand Prix event in Quincy except the first two. Her first year of involvement was 1972.
Long is busy this weekend helping hand score the 14 different championship races. She is also the mother of Quincy Raceways driver Michael Long, arguably the finest modified driver in that track's 44-year history.
Event-winning drivers this weekend will receive the inaugural "Gussie" trophy, modeled after Grand Prix founder, the late Gus Traeder.
Gus Traeder's wife, Fern, was Saturday's honorary starter and received a rousing ovation.
Thoughts are already turning to the 2019 Grand Prix following Saturday's large turnout and an entry list that surpassed all expectations.
"I couldn't be happier," Traeder said. "I think this event will continue to do nothing but get bigger all over again."
This year's Grand Prix drew 290 entries, about 90 more than Traeder hoped there'd be. The last year (2001) of the original Grand Prix drew 130 entrants.
A record 625 were on hand one year midway through its original three-decade run.
Sunday's lineup of 11 races are scheduled to be livestreamed on YouTube, thanks to the assistance of Adams Networks and Brian Kroeger, the Culver Stockton College marketing and public relations coordinator who will coordinate a staff of C-SC students.