1 January 1901
Q&A - Robin Braig, Daytona.
It looks like the Daytona 500 won't be a sell-out this year, with tickets still available for the opening round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Crash.net spoke to the president of the Daytona circuit - Robin Braig - to get his thoughts...
From Daytona's point of view, how pleased have you been with how the Rolex has panned out?
This is the 47th running and it looks like being one of the best ever. In a tough economy, as a track promoter, we thought we were going to be in trouble in terms of attendance but we are actually ahead of last year which is good in terms of sportscar fans who wanted to see the event. To have the product we are seeing on track as well certainly bodes well for next year.
How much has that upturn in ticket sales surprised you with the way the economy is?
It really did surprise us because our NASCAR sales are down and are soft. However, it is a different industry and a different kind of race fan and the economy may not be affecting the sportscar fan as much as the NASCAR fan. We are pleased to see they have showed up and its been a great weekend.
The sales for the 500 is something you touched on on Friday when we arrived. You are looking at being 15,000 away from a sell-out, when is the last time we have seen that with NASCAR's premier event?
We have never seen it. We have never not sold out for the Daytona 500. However, some people need to keep in mind that we added a 70,000 seat grandstand which meant we grew our capacity a lot. Like I say though, we have never not sold out so this is a year of concern for us. But ticket sales are picking up since we dropped prices to $55 and anyone who checks on www.daytona500.com, will see how they can find those great seats.
Do you think it is a situation at the moment where the economic climate is biting just a bit too hard for racing fans?
Absolutely – especially the 500 as a national event. For people who come down from the North, there is the expense of the train, bus, air fare or fuel which is heavy on their expenses. But we have area hotels working with us, we have the opportunity for free parking and fans can bring their own food, so hopefully it will turn will turn around.
Aside from dropping prices, what are the key things you can do to help the race fan?
One thing we do is allow fans to do a payment plan, just like you would make payments on a car. You don't have to make the full payment right now and we will do a payment plan. Beyond that, its working with hotels to drop pricing, dropping our prices on our food and beverage – things like that to make it a good deal.
Do you think this will be a tough year for circuits all around America?
Sure. We are fortunate to be the first race of the year and the Superbowl of the sport but in areas in Michigan for example where unemployment is very high, it will be a challenging year. That's not just for us, it's for things like Disney, the NFL, the NBA – everyone is feeling it.
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