Ticket sales off slightly at Dega Talladega Superspeedway President Rick Humphrey chuckled Wednesday when asked about a rumor floating around that ticket sales for the April 27 Aaron's 499 are down 30 percent from this same time a year ago.
"Thank goodness that isn't true," Humphrey said, laughing. "What would that be? Let's see, that would be more than 40,000 tickets. "I'm not happy to report that ticket Humphrey was unusually candid Wednesday on a subject that the International Speedway Corporation, which owns Talladega, Daytona and several other tracks, rarely talks about. Officials of ISC tracks typically don't discuss ticket sales or even announce attendance figures.
Humphrey says he has seen empty seats in the grandstands at most of the NASCAR races he has watched this season. He says the 8- to 10-percent decline in ticket sales at Talladega is pretty much in line with the declines that other NASCAR tracks have had this season.
Humphrey says any decline isn't good but with 17 days to go before the'Dega race, he's hopeful many money-pressed fans are just waiting to purchase tickets later rather than sooner.
Humphrey is a realist, though, and he says in light of current gas prices and the economy, some decline can be expected, especially with the makeup of Talladega crowds.
Surveys conducted by the speedway have shown that more than 75 percent of fans in attendance for Talladega races come from out of state, and the typical race fan travels 300 miles to get to Talladega. Mirroring economy: The cost of a ticket is just a part of the expenses required of the fan making a trek to Talladega, Humphrey pointed out. Gasoline, food and lodging expenses make up the bulk of such a trip. Ticket prices haven't increased since last year, but gasoline and food prices have, as has the cost of rooms at some motels and hotels. Those increased costs probably account for the decline in ticket sales, Humphrey said.
Talladega Superspeedway is just mirroring the decline in sales that almost all businesses across the United States are experiencing, he said. The speedway can do nothing about high gas prices but has offered a helping hand by opening up more free camping areas and offering ticket packages that include meals.
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