Rubber meets the cstore

Customers pulling in to one of Jerry Dorminey’s NASCAR-themed convenience stores or travel centers are immediately drawn to the Nextel Cup car on display (above).Thanks to his racing connections (he owned his own race team in the 1960s and’70s), he’s able to put an actual race car on each property, like a shiny metal calling card beckoning the NASCAR faithful.

Dorminey founded First American Enterprises (Stockbridge, GA) with the goalof having one of his NASCAR-themed stores one fuel stop from any racing eventin the country. With six open, another 40 under construction in the Southeastand another 50 on the way in the Carolinas, he’s off to a great start.

Aside from being adorned with NASCAR memorabilia, photographs and murals, 1,000sq. ft. to 1,400 sq. ft. of each 9,000 sq. ft. convenience store property is devoted to NASCAR souvenir and gift shops.

“We sell anything that’s officially licensed by NASCAR,” says Dorminey. “From jackets and bookbags to cushions, coolers and even toothbrushes. You name it,we sell it. It’s amazing to see a family of four come in and leave with $700 worth of stuff.

“For no other sport will fans drive hundreds of miles, spend nights in their car and then pay $250 for a ticket to one event,” he continues. “Customers appreciate a facility that caters to them and meets their needs.”

Dorminey hatched a NASCAR travel center to meet just about any need a road-weary race fan or trucker might have. The 17,000 sq. ft. facility has a pool, hot tubs, showers, a theater, a Laundromat, a chapel, fast food, a chiropractic clinic and, of course, a NASCAR souvenir and gift shop. It required a $5.5 million investment (each convenience store costs $2.5 million), but in a month it averages 1.5 million gallons of gasoline and diesel sold, $2 million in restaurant sales and $30,000 worth of souvenirs.