DIS hoping for 100K for 400-miler
Daytona International Speedway is throwing a variety of deals and packages at race fans to boost ticket sales for the July 3 Coke Zero 400 and ancillary events.
Daytona president Robin Braig said the "phones are ringing and the computer lines are humming."
"That's the good news," he said. "The difficult part of that is in past years they would have been ringing and humming right after the Daytona 500."
Today's cash-strapped sports consumer is waiting later and later to make his or her ticket purchase rather than reserve seats months in advance.
Ticket sales are trending much like last summer's race when Daytona had a "full house."
"With the advertising and promotions we have in place, we are confident we'll achieve numbers that we'll term 'good numbers' in this economic downturn," Braig said.
"Anybody who can stage an event and attract about 100,000 spectators ought to be pretty pleased. We will be."
There are an endless amount of offers.
If a $40 grandstand seat doesn't attract a race fan, Braig and his staff have come up with numerous marketing promotions -- everything from a barbecue cook off to allowing people to take their family cars around the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
"That's a Father's Day Papa John's pizza special," Braig said of the drive-around. "That is an advance package. Dads will be able to take their family cars around the track on June 26.
"On race day, they get all the pizza and soda they want in an air-conditioned tent behind the grandstands."
Country and western singer Darius Rucker, formerly of Hootie & the Blowfish, will do a pre-race concert and DIS has a ticket package for that event. Fans who opt for the $70 package will get a private viewing area for the concert.
For those who like to catch lunkers, bass champion Kevin VanDam will put on a fishing clinic with Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray on the morning of the 400.
There are several other offers designed to grab the attention of the on-the-fence race fan.
Braig said unlike the Daytona 500, which attracts an international audience, the 400 is more a regional event. Many of the people who attend the summer NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race live within 300 miles of the racetrack.
The Speedway has a surge of television, radio and newspaper advertising in place with 17 days before the race. The message is getting out.
"We had some great late sales for the Daytona 500," Braig said. "We were selling something like 1,500 tickets a day, which is unheard of in the sports industry.
"We're starting to get those kinds of numbers now. We're getting that kind of frequency of calls and we hope to close in on what our anticipated attendance will be for the Coke Zero 400."
The Speedway closed the backstretch grandstands last year for the 400 because of the economic downturn.
This time around the Bud Party Porch, a massive, elevated area next to the backstretch grandstands and the row of air-conditioned suites will be open.
"You'll see people back there," Braig said. "We'll have most everybody in the frontstretch, where our best facilities are located.
"Collectively, we're using all these programs to build attendance and get a piece of the holiday, discretionary dollar."
And Braig said the racing should be outstanding since NASCAR will allow the Cup cars to run with more horsepower, which means drivers will have more throttle control, which should translate into more passing.
Other competition selling points include NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. running the July 2 Nationwide Series race in the No. 3 car, the competition number made famous by his late father.
The Nationwide Series will debut its new generation stock car at Daytona. The cars have a much sportier profile than the cars raced today.
"And don't forget the double-file restarts and allowing bump drafting again," Braig said. "NASCAR has done its part to step up the action."
This will be the last set of races on the track's bumpy, scarred, 52-year-old racing surface. Two days after the 400, Daytona will begin tearing out the old asphalt and repaving the entire course.
For more information about the 400 ticket promotions, call the Speedway at 800-748-7467 or go to the track's website, daytonainternationalspeedway.com