NASCAR giving tracks some relief in tough economy

NASCAR has alleviated some of the financial strain on racetracks during the rough economic climate.

The sanctioning body lowered the fee it charges to hold NASCAR races, and the trickle down affects nearly every aspect of events. The reduction should allow track owners to reduce ticket prices and lower various fees associated with holding a race.

It also will affect prize money, which is largely determined by track profit. High-profile tracks like Daytona, Texas and Indianapolis pay a much higher sanctioning fee to NASCAR than smaller venues like Dover, Darlington and Martinsville—and the purses reflect that.

Tracks have suffered during the tough economy because of declining attendance and less money from sponsors, upon which the sport is heavily dependent.

“Last year we launched an industrywide effort to help the sport manage budgets in this economy,” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Friday. “NASCAR did the right thing to work with the tracks to reduce their costs in order to manage the economic realities.

“In return, the tracks have done a great job reducing ticket prices and enhancing the fan experience. Likewise, we worked with the teams to contain costs such as elimination of testing and other steps. This is consistent with how virtually every sport and business has adjusted to the economy over the past year.”

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Lenny Santiago, director of marketing for International Speedway Corporation—which owns the Daytona, Talladega and Darlington tracks, among others—said the move reduces the financial stress on facilities, which should in turn lower cost for fans.

“This will help everyone—fans, tracks, vendors and everyone in between to reduce cost,” Santiago said. “We applaud NASCAR for this move.”

Ticket prices were already set for this year and will likely be unchanged across ISC’s tracks, Santiago said, but the move could help lower costs in the future. About 600,000 tickets were already lowered among the tracks this year before the announcement.

Santiago said the biggest beneficiaries of the move are the fans.

“In late 2008, we recognized that the economy was going to be a challenge,” he said. “This is another important step to keep consumer confidence high.”

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