Thousands of fans traveling south through Beckley to the sold-out Dec. 28 inaugural Continental Tire Bowl are encouraged to stop by the”Mountaineer Fan Pit Stop”at the Tamarack exit at the I-64/77 interchange, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27.

Sponsored by the Beckley Register-Herald , WVU , Tamarack and the West Virginia Turnpike Authority, the”pit stop”will feature”Lets Go Mountaineer”window banners to display on vehicles plus free bowl inserts, courtesy of the Register-Herald; free WVU giveaways, courtesy of the University; and free soft drinks and coffee plus 20 percent off all blue and gold merchandise, courtesy of Tamarack and their merchants.

In addition, drivers of motor coaches will receive a free meal courtesy of Tamarack.

Toll booth operators also plan to don WVU blue and gold for the day, and electronic message signs along Route 19 and I-64/77 will also encourage Charlotte-bound motorists to stop by the Mountaineer Fan Pit Stop.

Tickets to the Dec. 28 inaugural Tire Bowl sold faster than race cars could round a turn at the Charlotte Motor Speedway �€some 73,000-plus, a sellout �€Bowl officials announced, and local organizers wanted to tap into the excitement.

“The whole state has been energized by the resurgence of the Mountaineer football teams 9-3 heroic season,”said Frank Wood, Register-Herald publisher.”We wanted to join with other local sponsors and the University to show our appreciation and pride in this team that withstood a tough Cincinnati come-from-behind attempt in mid season; then beat a nationally-ranked Virginia Tech team on the road in two final quarter goal line stands; defeated Pitt on their home field in another late defensive stand; and gave Miami a scare before bowing in the fourth quarter. If ever a team had heart, it was this one. They never lost faith and neither did our fans. This is just one small way we can say `Good Luckto the team and `Thanksto Mountaineer fans.”

Organizers estimate that as many as 30,000 Mountaineer travelers could take Route 19 South or Interstates 77 and 64 South to Charlotte.

“We just thought with so many fans traveling through Southern West Virginia the day before the game, this would be the ideal place to stop, stretch your legs, grab a cup of coffee and a free window decal and WVU sticker,”said Becky Lofstead, director of WVU News and Information Services.”The idea of a `pit stopjust seemed natural. NASCAR and auto racing is huge in the southern part of the state and, of course, Charlotte is famous for its Motor Speedway, so the `Mountaineer Fan Pit Stopseemed the perfect name.”

She added,”The folks at the Beckley Register-Herald, Turnpike Authority and Tamarack couldnt have been nicer, and they pulled this promotion together in no time.”

The Register-Herald will also distribute a special Tire Bowl insert at the fan stop.

In addition to the stop over in Beckley, the WVU Alumni Association is organizing a”Spirit Ride”to Charlotte by encouraging fans to wear Mountaineer colors and display flags, wind socks, stickers and banners on their vehicles.

“The Beckley Pit Stop and the Spirit Ride should make the highways between West Virginia and Charlotte a ribbon of blue and gold from one end to the other,”said Steve Douglas, executive director of the Alumni Association.

Once fans get to Charlotte, a number of WVU bowl events are planned. Heres a glimpse:

  • Mountaineer Fan Center, Symphony Ballroom, Adams Mark Hotel, 555 South McDowell St., Downtown Charlotte, noon- 7 p.m. FREE admittance; WVU giveaways; games and prizes; visits by the Marching Band, cheerleaders and Mountaineer mascot; limited supply of commemorative Continental Tire Bowl pins ($5 each); and more.

  • Mountaineer Fan Jam,”The Spirit of Morgantown,”Symphony Ballrooms, Adams Mark Hotel, 7-10 p.m. Free event; ticket required. Featuring Rick K and the Allnighters; cash bar.

  • Charlotte Chapter of the WVU Alumni Association Party, Have A Nice Day Café, 314 North College St., Downtown Charlotte, 7-9 p.m. $5 entrance fee.

  • Continental Tire Bowl Uptown Pep Rally, The Square, Trade and Tryon streets, 5-6:30 p.m.; Uptown Progressive Party, 6:30 p.m.-midnight, discounts at many Charlotte Center City restaurants, bars and other popular establishments.

  • Continental Tire Bowl Big East Friday Finale, 9 p.m.-2 a.m., Bar Alley, Charlotte.

Game time on Saturday, Dec. 28, is set for 11 a.m. at Ericsson Stadium between the 9-3 Mountaineers and the 8-5 Virginia Cavaliers. Both teams finished second in their respective conferences, the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference.

On the way to the game, pick up your free gold pom poms at the south and east entrance gates to Ericsson Stadium beginning at 9:30 a.m., courtesy of WVU .

For additional WVU -related bowl information go to