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All the eyes of NASCAR racing world turn to St. Louis this weekend

The Enjoy Illinois 300 takes place at World Wide Technology Raceway, within sight of the Gateway Arch.

MADISON, Illinois — The first weekend of June is “track time” in St. Louis, for the second year in a row.

The Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway gets underway this weekend, and all the eyes of the racing world are turning to St. Louis.

The Toyota Truck Series happens Saturday, and the NASCAR Cup Series takes place Sunday. And there’s a music festival!

RELATED: What to know ahead of NASCAR's Enjoy Illinois 300

Track owner Curtis Francois gave 5 On Your Side a tour of the 700-acre campus within sight of the Gateway Arch. We rode in Francois’ Escalade as he drove through a tunnel underneath the track.

“I am taking you into the infield, right now,” Francois said, “going into the tunnel that heads into the new infield experience and the Gateway Garage experience. We’ve been working hard on something that will be new and exciting for fans as they rejoin us this year, for the second NASCAR Cup date. You’ll be able to walk right into the garage and see all that’s going on with the Cup cars.”

Francois said World Wide Technology Raceway has doubled the amount of concessions from last year and dramatically increased connectivity.

“You can see from the signs in the garage here that we have free WiFi,” he pointed out. “We want everyone to know – when you’re here, log in to this WiFi and stream some pictures. Let everyone know what you’re doing at the race track.”

Geoff Baltz with Egyptian Workspace Partners is among the contractors that keep the track connected.

“I would say well over 50 miles of cable are out here, somewhere," Baltz said, "and we have upwards of 300 wireless access points that allow connectivity.”

Walking on the race track, Francois said, “Up and down pit row – to the left and the right - all of these spaces all have individual monitors turned on, that really involves laser precision.”

Francois explained that some of the electronic monitoring that will be going on in Pit Road is similar to the replay we’ve gotten used to in major league baseball.

“It absolutely is like replay,” Francois said. “They’re recording everything, and they’re making sure the call is accurate, but also, they’re being alerted there was an infraction.”

Francois also showed us the Gateway Garage Experience, where race fans will be able to get up close and personal with drivers and crews. He said he is thrilled to host NASCAR and all the stars from the Daytona 500 will be here. Race officials are hoping for another sold-out crowd. Francois said earlier this week they’re hoping to reach “sold-out” status by the weekend.

Last year’s inaugural event won a “Best Event” award from the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The Rawlings Sports Business Management Department at Maryville University projects the event produces at least $60 million in economic impact for the St. Louis market.

And then there’s the “wow” factor.

Francois led a 5 On Your Side reporter out onto the track.

“Right there is our starter stand,” he said. “That’s where you’re going to see the green flag to tell them to go, and our checkered flag when it’s all over and you’re going to announce the winner.”

For more information, go to the World Wide Technology Raceway website.

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