Julie and Steve Buchanan have started homefortheraces.com, a Web site designed to offer NASCAR fans and others a chance to take vacations through home exchange. David Grace photo.
BRISTOL - The 2006 movie "The Holiday" tells the story: Two women living in different parts of the country decide to trade homes for a vacation minus the high cost of hotels.
Bristol native Julie Buchanan is hoping to turn that scenario into real life - especially for NASCAR fans across the country. Buchanan has started Home For The Races, a Web-based business that allows folks to connect with one another, exchange homes, and enjoy a getaway without lodging costs.
Buchanan grew up in Bristol and watched the popularity of NASCAR grow over the years. Fans traveling to the area for the races often paid big bucks for hotel rooms or home rentals, and Buchanan - a stay-at-home mom with two young boys - thought there had to be a better lodging solution.
"I got to kicking around the idea of what we could do - trying to come up with a home business and something that would benefit the NASCAR fan, and was messing around on the Internet one day and found home exchange vacations," Buchanan said. "It hit me - why not try to do this for NASCAR fans?"
She talked with her husband Steve, a computer professional, about the idea.
"I always tell him - I come up with the ideas and it's his job to make them work," she said.
Together they launched the business at www.homefortheraces.com last year. Here's how it works: You join the site and list your home, including pictures of the house and a description of your community. Then you can peruse the list of member homes, and if you see a home in an area you'd like to visit, you can e-mail the homeowner and ask if they'd be interested in an exchange.
"You get in touch with the people and establish a relationship, and when it's done, you feel like you know who's coming to stay in your home, and you're staying in their home. You're on equal ground," Buchanan said.
The site also offers a concept of shared homes. For instance, a NASCAR fan from Daytona could travel to Bristol and share the home of a NASCAR fan here during race week. Then the Bristol NASCAR fan could travel to Daytona and stay with the fan there during the Daytona races.
Either way - whether it's shared homes or a true home exchange - people can make those connections through Home For The Races, Buchanan said.
To get the site established, the business is offering free membership to the first 100 people to register their homes. Thereafter, membership will cost $59.95 a year.
And for a limited time, members will be automatically registered for a chance to win two free Bristol tickets for the March 2007 Busch race plus two tickets for the Nextel Cup race, a prize package worth more than $400. The drawing will be held this month and the winner will receive notification by e-mail.
Buchanan said folks with vacation homes can register multiple locations at a discount - $29.95 a year for each additional residence.
Buchanan said she eventually hopes to expand the business to include homes in other countries.
"I think this is going to be successful. It's a no brainer," Buchanan said.
She said home exchange offers the advantage of not leaving your home empty when you go on vacation. And if you have animals, the family staying in your home may be willing to care for them, and you could care for their animals, Buchanan said.
She said some folks may even want to exchange cars.
"This is all based on mutual trust. That's the basic key," Buchanan said.
The business motto is "No Rent, No Hotels, No Camping."
For more information, visit www.homefortheraces.com.