SBD/March 27, 2014/Events and Attractions

Darlington Raceway President Optimistic About New Date For NASCAR Weekend

A new date could mean cooler temps for NASCAR fans in attendance
Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile this week said that a new date and additional promotional efforts for the track's April NASCAR weekend could lead to improved attendance. Darlington last fall agreed to hold its NASCAR weekend April 11-12 after nine years of it being on Mother’s Day weekend, allowing Kansas Speedway to secure a night race for May 10. Wile said, “I think the weather being a little cooler is going to be a help, hopefully the fans will have a more enjoyable experience. The reaction has been really good.” NASCAR stopped providing attendance reports for races before the ’13 season, but prior records show Sprint Cup race attendance at Darlington decreasing from 75,000 in ’08 to 61,000 in ’11, before bumping back up to 63,000 in ’12. Wile: “When we were in May, students were generally either going through exams or they were graduating that weekend, so we weren’t able to market to them as much. We’ve already seen an increase over last year in our college-aged group.” Darlington last fall partnered with a business class at the Univ. of South Carolina, which required students to sell $500 worth of tickets to the Sprint Cup Bojangles Southern 500 in order to gain a passing “C” grade. Wile said Darlington may extend the program to other schools in ’15. He added the new race weekend also will feature several entertainment initiatives, including a pre-race concert by country singer John Pardi. Wile said as of Monday, the track was 2% ahead of its budget projection for the Sprint Cup race. Wile: “We’ve embraced this date, it’s a great opportunity for us. We’re going to take it and run with it. I don’t care if it’s in January or November.”
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