(Press Release from New Hampshire Motor Speedway)
Nicole Pelletier was by far the most diminutive of the contestants. But what the 12-year-old lacked in stature she more than made up for in vocal power, blowing away the fans, judges and other singers to win New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s sixth annual Speedway Star singing contest at the Mall of New Hampshire on Saturday.
Pelletier gave a moving rendition of the “The Star Spangled Banner,” earning a spot to sing the anthem during the July NASCAR New Hampshire 301 race weekend.
“I thought everyone did really great,” said Pelletier, a native of Pelham, N.H. “I was getting a little nervous before it was my turn to go, but I always get a little nervous. I was a surprised (I won) because I thought everyone else did really great.”
Pelletier, who has performed the national anthem at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. – for both the New England Patriots and New England Revolution – earned the top score from a celebrity team of judges that included “Jeopardy” champion Kerry Greene of Manchester, N.H.; Bob Duteau, vice president of booking for Live Nation; and WOKQ morning wake-up show host Karen Kiley, a three-time Speedway Star judge. Mark Ericson once again served as the emcee.
“I thought this was great fun and I was very impressed with the quality of the talent,” said Greene, whose six-day run on “Jeopardy” ended Thursday night. She will return for the show’s Tournament of Champions later this year.
“I did tell everyone I knew that I was coming to do this today and everybody made me feel very welcome,” she continued. “I might not have been overly qualified for this, but it did mean a lot to the contestants and I really tried to pay attention and use all of the knowledge I’ve got.”
Caroline Carter (Dover, N.H.) finished second and will sing the national anthem at the September NASCAR SYLVANIA 300 race weekend.
“It was great. When you’re competing in something like this you always think the other singers are so great and talented, and they really were here today,” said the 17-year-old Carter, who has performed the national anthem three times at the Garden for the Boston Bruins. “You just have to be confident in yourself and that will carry you through. I think I was able to do that today.”
Pelletier and Carter were two of 10 finalists from across New England, ranging in age from 12-38. More than 50 singers submitted a DVD, CD, .wav file or .mp3 file of them singing “The Star Spangled Banner” a cappella style (without music or other accompaniments). The 10 competing on Saturday were chosen by a panel of speedway officials.
This year’s racing season will once again be highlighted by two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekends, including the New Hampshire 301 on July 19 and the SYLVANIA 300 on Sept. 27. To purchase tickets call the track’s ticket hotline at (603) 783-4931 or visit www.nhms.com.