Lack of NASCAR driver participation with fans one cause for ticket sale decline?

I’ve said it all along: Speedways and sponsors are killing themselves by taking away the free autograph sessions fans look forward to and then charging up to $100 per fan, in addition to a race day ticket, to attend a special hospitality tent where their driver is attending.

Someone in the industry saw an opportunity that would be a major money maker, and took it away from the fans. But in a way, it has back fired. Yes, some fans do pay the additional cost, but yet, there are some fans that just got plain tired and fed up with everything and just don’t attend any events. Remember when races use to be sold out or close to it? Then they raised ticket prices. You see where that got speedways. Any type of increase is not well received by anyone.

Speedways and sponsors thought if the fan wants the opportunity to see their driver, they would pay the extra money, no matter what. In the earlier days, driver’s would be all over the local towns having autograph sessions… for free. That was race weekend!! Almost everywhere you would go, signs were posted saying “….driver autograph session, today…”  That’s how I received most of my autographs…I accidentally fell upon them. But now, as I search for NASCAR driver autograph sessions, there will be MAYBE, 2 or 3 happening outside of the track that weekend. It use to be a cycle where the driver would draw race fans out into the community, participating in local events, spending money at local establishments…. while putting money back into the economy – it was a win-win situation.

The top named drivers, as many of you would agree, are Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Mark Martin…. (all Hendrick Motorsports).  For these driver’s, you must pay those extra costs just to be allowed to attend an appearance and/or autograph session whether it’s in a hospitality tent or a speedway club. Why don’t we see Jimmie Johnson at a Lowe’s signing autographs race weekend, or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in a grocery store next to an AMP display?  It’s not gonna happen…. but why? Too important? Too high and mighty? Tony Stewart is a top rated driver, yet he has personal appearances and autograph sessions at Office Depot almost every race weekend.

Well, apparently someone either at NASCAR or the speedway is noticing and knocking these driver’s down a few notches….

This coming weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 31) will be yielding the largest ever NASCAR driver autograph session for the race fans…. (find out who will be signing) and I’m sure you can guess why. Indianapolis Speedway has noticed, yet another decrease in ticket sales for this upcoming Brickyard 400…. “worse than previous years.”

In a memo obtained by the Charlotte Observer, which was distributed by email on Friday, team public relations representatives were thanked ahead of time for their drivers’ participation in a Sprint Cup Series autograph session at the track. The memo said, “ticket sales are significantly behind from previous years” at IMS. The memo goes on to say, the track believed there would be a large walk-up crowd for the July 31 race and hoped the autograph session would be well received by race fans.

Have they found the cure? Will this autograph session increase walk-up ticket sales on Sunday? Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hoping it will.

And thank you Indianapolis Motor Speedway for making it an”official” complaint.

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