Jun. 18—A combination of natural improvements from Year 1 to 2 and the acquisition of Nashville Superspeedway by Speedway Motorsports mean a better fan experience when NASCAR returns to the Gladeville track next weekend, the track president said.
Erik Moses said day-to-day operations haven’t changed much since SMI bought out Dover Motorsports to bring the Superspeedway and Dover’s “Monster Mile” into the umbrella with tracks at Charlotte, Bristol, Sonoma and others.
“I think they came in with the right attitude with is ‘this transaction is closing at the end of December. You guys did a great job last year. Let’s not screw around with too much too soon. Let’s get ready for the race in June and then most of the integration into the Speedway Motorsports family will happen after our race weekend is over,’ ” Moses during a phone interview Thursday. “They have not tinkered with a lot. I love being a part of this family, having colleagues all over the country who are running first-class racetracks and are very experienced and have been great. Being part of a company that traces its roots back to the beginning of this sport with (company founder) Bruton Smith being around promoting races when Big Bill (France, NASCAR founder) was promoting races.
“And they’re visionaries. We’ve got condos at our tracks in Atlanta and Charlotte and Texas. It takes a visionary to do those kinds of things. It has been fantastic to have the additional bandwidth, to have those resources and the level of investment they have been proven willing to make throughout the country at their various tracks to improve the fan experience.”
Joining SMI and just having a year under its belt of operating a track during a NASCAR tripleheader weekend, which included the inaugural appearance of the Cup Series at the now-21-year-old facility, will improve the flow next weekend. But also the world itself has changed over the last 12 months.
“We’re less concerned about COVID this year than we were last year,” Moses said. “Our fan zone will have a stage this year that will be programmed all three days with music and other entertainment. We’ll have rock climbing and ax throwing and canine performances. PVR is bringing a mechanical bull ride out, bumper cars and all of that kind of stuff for the whole family to experience.”
One of the drawbacks last year was getting 38,000 spectators, plus the race teams and other personnel in and out of the track on the Ally 400 Cup race Sunday. Moses said big adjustments have been made to the parking process.
“The big thing they’ll experience is we cleared about 20 acres across (McCrary Road) from the track on land that we own to create 2,600 new parking spaces that will allow us to flow cars in off of McCrary on both sides at the same time,” Moses said, “That, along with eliminating the onsite parking fee, will allow cars to load into those parking spaces more quickly and get our fans into the venue faster.”
New hospitality areas will also be introduced inside and outside the D-oval track. Concession areas have been improved with the cash registers at the stands, of which there will be an additional 60 new “points of sale” this year.
“We think the combination of all of those things will make the fan experience smoother,” Moses said.
One issue Moses had last year and other businesses have experienced was a general labor shortage. Not only is he and his staff preparing for an influx of thousands to come in and spend money, he’s still seeking people to work during the three-day weekend for a pay check, whether it’s a group fundraising event (such as a high school band parking cars) or individuals looking to earn a few extra bucks.
“Getting temporary labor was really difficult,” Moses said. “I would have preferred to have had 200 more people out here to help us last year to ensure that the experience our fans had was frictionless and better and up to the standards we have for ourselves. But we couldn’t get those people out.
“We’re hoping to have more success at having temporary staff to help people have a better experience… We have more…but you can’t have enough. We’ve done some advertisements to tell people if you want to come out and support a non-profit or just want to work — and we’re offering $15 an hour — the race weekend and help us out — ushers, ticket takers, drivers and various things we need folks to do.”
Not only is Moses advertising for workers, he’s still urging the public to buy tickets, which should be plentiful for Friday’s 7 pm Roofing 200 Truck Series race and Saturday’s 2:30 pm Tennessee Lottery 250 Xfinity Series race. Last year’s Ally 400 race sold out three months in advance. But tickets remain available for the 3 pm June 26 race, which will be televised by NBC.
“We’re always hoping for a sellout,” Moses said. “Last year we kind of got what we hoped for and maybe expect in an inaugural year where we sold out three months in advance. That was a little bit of a luxury.
“This year we have to work hard to get to a sellout. We’re doing that. We want people to know who were disappointed last year that they didn’t act fast enough to get tickets that tickets are still available. They can go on our website (nashvillesuperspeedway.com) or go to Ticketmaster or call our office at 866-RACETIX to get tickets.
“It’s strong but we’re going to run through the finish line.”