Race food vendors crank up to feed the masses
Damara Hutchins | Highlands TodaySEBRING - Feeding a bunch of hungry race fans is no easy task, but several are at it again because they love what they're doing.
Published: March 16, 2012
Published: March 16, 2012
Becky and Les Long are from Spring Hill and have been coming to the races for about 8 to 10 years to sell their burgers, hot dogs, strawberry shortcakes, and Texas Taters, which are similar to homemade potato chips.
They also sell the "You Better Be Hungry Burger," a 1-pound burger that will cost you $10 if you are brave enough to try it.
When asked what makes their business successful each year, Becky smiled and said, "Keep it clean and give them good food. It's simple, really, just run a clean business and give good customer service."
The races work well for USA Concessions because, as Becky said, "You have a captive audience. The people stay here because they don't want to fight the traffic. You know they either bring their own food or they're going to buy it. It isn't like McDonald's is two blocks away."
Just down the midway, Tammy Long (no relation to Becky and Les) is better known as the Ice Tea Lady. This is her first year at the races selling Tiki Tea. A race official sampled her tea at another event and talked her into coming to this one.
Tammy has three stands this year: one on the midway, one in the paddock, and one in the Vendor Village. If you want to try her tea, it will cost $1 for a 20 ounce cup or $2 if you want a flavor added. She also sells 32 ounce jugs for $3 that you can bring back and get refilled for a buck.
Though Tammy offers some tasty tea, what makes her so special is her personality. Her smile is infectious and her outlook on life is beyond positive. "I'm a two year breast cancer survivor. I've been through eight treatments of chemotherapy and 21 or 22 radiation therapies."
How did she make it through such a rough time? "By smiling and making jokes."
Now Tammy promotes the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. One way she raises funds is by selling a purple concoction called "Hope Tea." What's in it? "Everything purple I could find: wild berry, grape, and pomegranate. I made my kids try it first." The tea sells for $2 like the other flavored teas, but 100 percent of the proceeds go straight to the American Cancer Society.
Tammy's family helps her run the business. She has four children: the oldest is 26 and the youngest, a girl she calls her "grand finale," is 12 years old.
There are a variety of other items to taste and sample along the racetrack midway. Though Jesse McClelland, director of operations at the track, brings the vendors, it is the people like Becky, Les, and Tammy who keep their customers coming back for more.