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DATE News (chronologically)
03/02/09
nassprint
SMI tracks seeing ticket surge
With four of the next five Cup races – Las Vegas (SMI), Atlanta (SMI), Bristol (SMI), Martinsville (ISC) and Texas (SMI) – at the SMI tracks, company president Marcus Smith has seen a surge in recent ticket interest.

“We really start rolling in March, April and May,” said Smith, who also is president of Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “We’ve seen a big pickup in tickets once the season got kicked off. We’ve also seen a big pickup in people taking advantage of the deals that are out there.”

“I thought it was really good,” Smith said. “The racing in Daytona was awesome. I felt the guys were trying to win it from lap 1. … The California race ended up being a good race. The last 50-60 laps of a real duel between [Matt] Kenseth and [Jeff] Gordon was great. Last year, the guys would wait until the last 20 laps or so before they started really pushing the car.”

“It starts with tickets,” said Smith, son of SMI Chairman Bruton Smith, said about the fan initiatives. “The first thing we did was formalize our layaway plan for tickets. If you want to come to the race today at any one of our speedways, you can pay over time.

“For the Coca-Cola 600, you can sit on the frontstretch for $20 a month if you called the ticket office. That’s pretty compelling and pretty different than what we’ve done in the past.”

“The idea of fan forums actually started with a conversation between [Hendrick Motorsports general manager] Marshall Carlson and I,” Smith said (actually they copied it from Champ Car). “We were discussing various things one day, and he brought up this thought that his drivers at Hendrick wanted to do more for the fans and with so much time pulling on the schedule, we needed to try to figure out a way to use the limited time we have and impact as many fans as possible.”

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