The nation's longest one-day bike race has turned into the busiest weekend for hotels, restaurants, and retailers in Wichita Falls. The big race this weekend is a hundred miles, features thousands of riders, and brings in millions of dollars. The Hotter 'n Hell 100 has a huge economic impact on the city as a whole.
Attendance numbers during Hotter 'n Hell 100 have seen just a slight, relative drop over the last few years, but this weekend, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, or CVB is expecting record breaking numbers -- in the race and it's impact on the whole community.
"I don't think people realize the scope of Hotter 'n Hell and what it does for the community," said CVB Director Lindsay Greer.
This one weekend in Wichita Falls brings in more money in hotel-motel taxes than some Texas cities bring in for an entire year.
So just how busy is the Hotter 'n Hell weekend? Hotels all over Wichita County are full. One general manager says his rooms have been booked for about a year.
"Our inventory went rather quickly. We were committed I think within two weeks of the race last year," said Albert Elder.
A restaurant manager says the out-of-towners come at the perfect time for the local food business.
"It usually does slow down a little bit after school, so this is really good for us, and we're looking forward to it," said Craig Harmel.
Hotter 'n Hell weekend at the restaurant he manages means about 1,000 people a day ordering food. It's no wonder he expects to go through 1,600 pounds of sirloin this week -- 300 lbs more than normal.
"We've got everybody in place doin' their job, and as many people as it's gonna take as to give everyone a good experience, and as well make sure that we've got enough food in house," he said.
The CVB estimated $4.4 million in revenue from Hotter 'n Hell in 2008. Greer expects even more to come in this year.
"To continue to have the people come to Hotter 'n Hell when times may be a little bit tough, I think it's a real attribute to the kind of event we put on," she said.
"We can't do this without them. The city would not survive without their efforts," Elder said.
The Convention & Visitors Bureau handed surveys to racers and supporters at the 2008 event, asking them where they were staying and how much money they thought they would spend while in town. The averages from those studies are what help determine the monetary impact.
So far this years race has about 10,000 registered cyclists, but many more racers will be signing up in person. Officials estimate about 22 to 24,000 total visitors will be here this weekend.