Charlotte Motor Speedway is giving area high schools the horsepower to fight budget crunches through an innovative homecoming partnership program surrounding the Oct. 17 running of the NASCAR Banking 500 only from Bank of America.

"Most people experience their first homecoming in high school," said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "But when the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams come back to race in Charlotte after five months on the road, the NASCAR Banking 500 is truly an October homecoming-NASCAR style."

"This new program engages the area schools that serve the families of the NASCAR community," Smith stated. "It connects the schools with our NASCAR homecoming, and it provides them with several ways to raise money in the midst of budget cuts."

Through the homecoming partnership, speedway officials have invited 40 public high schools from six area school systems in Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Iredell and Rowan counties to participate in the speedway's "Fund-Racing" program. School fund-raising groups such as booster clubs and parent-teacher organizations will receive $10 for each ticket they sell to the NASCAR Banking 500.

"Schools have a chance to quickly raise thousands of dollars at a time when they need it most," said Smith. "It's a new, exciting way to make money surrounding a national sports event. And the school payback per ticket is more than what schools typically receive through traditional forms of fund raising."

Each school will have a convenient way to process sales transactions through the speedway's Web site at charlottemotorspeedway.com/schools.

Charlotte Motor Speedway will contribute $1,000 to each participating high school in the program and also donate a VIP race package for two from The Speedway Club for the school to use as a raffle prize. In addition, Bank of America, the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Banking 500, will match the $1,000 contribution from the speedway to each participating school.

"One of the most important ways we participate in the lives of our customers and communities is through philanthropic investment, and our sponsorship of the NASCAR Banking 500 provides us with the opportunity to work with our partners at Charlotte Motor Speedway to enhance our collective commitment to giving back," said Mike Hargrave, motorsports platform executive, Bank of America. "Contributing to a program that benefits local education will pay dividends in this community and for its future leaders for many years to come."

The area high school that sells the most tickets will receive a 64-person luxury suite to the 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race for even more fund-raising raffle opportunities during the school year.

The speedway has also invited area high school bands and cheerleading squads to perform as part of the NASCAR Banking 500 pre-race show on Saturday night, Oct. 17.

"We take a lot of pride and responsibility in producing events that put people to work and mean so much to the economic strength of our region," Smith said. "The high school homecoming program is a way to tie us all together, using the NASCAR Banking 500 to support the area communities, fans and families that do so much to support Charlotte Motor Speedway."

Information on the speedway's school Fund-Racing program can be obtained on the Fund-Racing  page or by calling Charlotte Motor Speedway at (704) 455-3294.

Tickets to the Oct. 17 NASCAR Banking 500 only from Bank of America can be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS and are available online.