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Free ticket giveaways in San Jose UPDATE Organizers of the San Jose Grand Prix are hoping the lure of a free ticket will attract crowds to the first of three days of race-related activities next month.

With Mayor Chuck Reed — an opponent of the $4 million, two-year subsidy that kept the Champ Car race in downtown San Jose — on hand to endorse this year's event, race organizers outlined a voucher system that will enable anyone to roam the track grounds on July 27 without buying a $25 general-admission ticket.

"There may be some revenue lost because some people who might have bought a ticket are going to come for free," grand prix president Dale Jantzen said Monday. "But I think long term it's a good thing to show people what's going on. Perhaps they'll want to come back on Sunday for the main event."

Friday is the first day of practice runs and time trials on the 1.443-mile track and crowds are generally thinnest at that point. Jantzen estimated that the number of Friday general-admission tickets sold in the past were in the "single-digit thousands."

A general-admission ticket gives fans access to viewing points along the course and various exhibits. Grandstand seating areas, however, will be limited to those who buy the three-day passes that cost $74 to $129.

Attendance was a major point of contention last year. Race officials initially claimed 155,934 people showed up for the three days, then revised that figure to less than 120,000. The city receives $1 from the grand prix for every person who pays to attend the event.

Reed labeled his opposition to the January 2006 subsidy "an old fight" and backed the free-ticket promotion as a way of opening the grand prix to more San Jose residents.

"I've always thought the grand prix was a great event. My opposition was about the amount of city money needed to get it started," said Reed, who also had a problem with the process that let the public know about the subsidy only one day before the council voted on it.

The subsidy totaled $2.9 million for the 2006 race and $1.1 million for this year's event, according to Paul Krutko, the city's director of economic development.

Under terms of a contract through 2016, the city's contribution then drops to about $640,000 in services only, primarily for police, fire protection and traffic control. Because of tax revenue generated by the race, Reed said, it then becomes a break-even event.

"I would have supported it in the beginning on a break-even basis," Reed said.

Crowd movement was a major problem the first year of the race, but Jantzen said that the re-routing plan put in place last year worked so well that no further changes are planned.

Race fans seeking free admission to Friday's activities first need to pick up vouchers from any one of eight sponsors, Jantzen said. Those vouchers would then be turned in for free tickets at any race gate.

Vouchers will be available through:

The San Jose Mercury News, KNTV.com, various Budweiser displays in the South Bay, eight 24-Hour Fitness gyms, the Smoke Tiki Lounge in San Jose, GoKart Racer in Burlingame, Hertz car rental offices and the concierge desk at Westfield Valley Fair mall.  Insidebayarea.com

06/12/07 The San José Grand Prix and its partners announced today that they are teaming up to give motorsports fans a full day of racing...for FREE!

This promotion, which combines Grand Prix commercial, retail and media partners, allows fans to receive a free general admission ticket to the opening day, Friday, July 27, of the Third Annual San José Grand Prix at Redback Raceway on the streets of downtown San José.

Fans have a variety of ways to obtain a voucher which can then be exchanged for a free ticket. Among the ways to get a voucher are:
  • Go to the Budweiser display at various South Bay retail locations (not available at all locations, no purchase necessary).
  • Visit Go-Kart Racer in Burlingame and purchase a race session.
  • Hertz Rental Car will offer vouchers to anyone who rents a vehicle at any of their 20 greater San José locations in July.
  • Go on-line to KNTV.com
  • Check your San José Mercury News.
  • Visit the Smoke Tiki Lounge on Post St. in San José and purchase a Big Kahuna Platter or Smoked entree.
  • Visit any of the eight South Bay 24-Hour Fitness locations and sign up for an All Club membership.
  • See the concierge at the Westfield Valley Fair.

The vouchers can be redeemed at a San José Grand Prix ticket booth located at any of the four gates to the event on Friday, July 27 beginning at 7:00 a.m. zzzz

"I am pleased that the Grand Prix has created the "Fast Friday" program which gives local residents the chance to experience this event at no cost," said Mayor Chuck Reed. "I encourage San José residents to take advantage of this opportunity. We welcome all racing enthusiasts from throughout the Bay Area to enjoy the race and experience the hospitality of downtown San José."

"Fast Friday" includes practice and qualifying sessions for the Champ Car World Series, Champ Car Atlantic Championship, Formula BMW USA, Historic Stock Car Racing Series plus a Formula Drift exhibition. The free ticket also includes admission the off-track activities including a driver autograph session, concert, motorcycle stunt exhibitions and displays that make the San José Grand Prix "More Than A Race." "The "Fast Friday" promotion is our way of thanking the City of San José, its residents as well as race fans all over the Bay Area for their support of this great event," said Grand Prix President Dale Jantzen.

"I also want to thank all the partners who are participating to help make this program a success."

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