NASCAR Goes West offers benefits, challenges

NASCAR Goes West offers benefits, challenges

NASCAR

NASCAR Goes West offers benefits, challenges

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This weekend’s NASCAR tripleheader at Las Vegas Motor Speedway marks the start of the fourth straight NASCAR Goes West tour.

Consisting of Las Vegas, ISM Raceway (Phoenix) and Auto Club Speedway, the swing to the left coast in consecutive weeks maximizes the schedule. But for the three track presidents, it’s hard to tell the overall impact this stretch of racing has had from a business perspective. However, all look at it positively.

“We talk to a lot of fans,” said LVMS president Chris Powell. “One thing this whole social media craze allows is to talk to people more, touch and feel with race fans – and so, we find that there are a lot of Canadians, Midwesterners, people where it’s typically kind of chilly in March will come down and do all three of these races. Or two of the three. So we’re happy to be a part of it, and it’s been good for us.”

Powell followed that up by saying three races in close proximity has not impeded his racetrack.

“No!” he empathetically said. “It’s actually helped because we’ve [heard] fans who say, we’re going to your place and Phoenix, or we’re going to your place and Fontana, or we’re going to all that. And that’s kind of what I want to do when I’m able to retire, is go to great events. When you can go to one area in the country and do all three events, that’s kind of the thing you’re looking for.”

The track formally known as Phoenix Raceway is currently undergoing a $178 million modernization project with the grand opening coming with the November playoff race. The work already complete for the upcoming race includes suites, entertainment and bar areas as well as a canyon that has escalators.

ISM Raceway president Bryan Sperber offered an honest reply when asked if the West Coast swing has been good for business, saying he’s not quite sure he has the complete answer.

“On the one hand, you look at it and say, well, maybe fans could do multiple events, or it makes it easier on travel in some respects,” Sperber said. “On the other hand, I worry that it does create an environment where fans have to pick one race instead of maybe being able to go to three, and I’ve heard fans say both.

“I can tell you the weather is usually fantastic and there are lots to do in the market, so I think that helps.”

The two-mile Auto Club Speedway puts the bookend on the three races.

“If anything, I think it’s been a positive just to talk about the race from a PR perspective,” said Dave Allen, president of Auto Club Speedway. “It gets us going. It kind of kicks us off, wakes everybody up that, oh yeah, I’ve got to get my tickets for any of the events. It’s been very healthy, and I think we’re in a really good spot.”

Auto Club has enjoyed success in recent years with the shift to one NASCAR race a year. With a two-mile layout that’s five lanes wide, consists of unique bumps and speeds over 200 miles per hour going into the corners, Auto Club has come to produce some of the most exciting racing of the season.

Allen knows the drivers enjoy their annual visit and believes that equates to the fans also enjoying their trip.

“We have the experience of having two races and going to one, and I think it’s been healthy,” Allen said. “From a financial standpoint, sure, you can look at it a lot of different ways. But from the health factor of the sport and the marketplace, having one race and the demand it creates and the fact that the track has aged so well, and the racing has gotten better race after race, I think that it’s been good having one race.”

The NASCAR West Coast swing is March 4–18.

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