DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 13, 1999) --Going to the races means being a part of the action, and as NASCAR 2000 explores the future, a peek at new-millennium race tracks reveals a special experience for the NASCAR fan. Facilities will offer all of the conveniences of a small city and an even deeper look into the locker room of the sport they love -- stock car racing.
"I see a future where seats have small televisions that give fans their choice of views from in-car cameras, sounds from the radios and the ability to switch back and forth," said Greg Penske, International Speedway Corporation Senior VP Western Operations. "Instead of thinking of things that will never happen, you have to think like they will. We have to continue to grow the sport, offering more to the people who come to the track for a race."Bristol Motor Speedway General Manager Jeff Byrd agrees.
"Now that we have achieved parity with the other major sports, we have to find ways to give fans the complete experience at the tracks," Byrd said. "The competition for spectator dollars is fierce and facilities that find ways to best entertain the fans will be the ones that succeed."Penske sees NASCAR facilities operating more like stadiums, offering in-seat service and developing brand-name food courts and sports bars. The big opportunities for growth, however, might come in the infield.
"Each motorhome spot could have a pedestal with a television hook-up, Internet access and the ability to order food or merchandise delivered right to your door," Penske said. "You could tap into concerts or drive-in movies right at your site.Penske also sees new opportunities for other companies to share in the benefits of infield access.
"What a great place for companies to test new products," Penske said. "What better place for feedback on everything from rollerblades to bicycles. I can see movie companies testing the early director's cut or premiering a film for 20,000 people at the track, and the fans getting merchandise from the film. It's that kind of out-of-the-box thinking that we need to be doing."So, how about the actual race tracks?
"The kind of racing we have now is great racing, so I don't see any reason for too many changes with the tracks," Penske said. "The one thing that I see as a possibility is tracks running in and out of a stadium, combining the benefits of the infield with the excitement outside the track, giving more people the ability to be a part of the show."Byrd offers a vision of a "parallel universe" for Bristol.
"Our idea is to create an identical half-mile track right next to the current track at Bristol," Byrd said. "Then we create a tunnel connecting the two tracks and drivers use both tracks during the race. Instead of 150,000 people seeing the race, we'd have 300,000 seats. Maybe then we could fill all the requests for tickets."Team owner Felix Sabates sees other opportunities.
"In the future, I think it would be fun to race on figure-8 tracks," Sabates said with a smile. "If we had see-through tracks, we could put television cameras and seats below the track and sell sponsorships on the tailpipe."
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