SBJ/August 28 - September 3, 2006/This Weeks News

Speedway ticket blitz targets Hispanic market

California Speedway and NASCAR are working together on a ticket promotion and media blitz for the Sept. 3 Sony HD 500 that targets the vast Hispanic community in the Los Angeles area.

The promotion falls in line with NASCAR’s initiative to expand its exposure to Hispanics, who make up almost 9 percent of its fan base.

“That marketplace is so important to the future of our sport,” California Speedway President Gillian Zucker said from a cell phone last week as she drove to her Spanish lessons.

The six-week promotion included Spanish-language ads on TV, radio and print offering a package of four tickets for $100. That includes admission to a concert by Mexican singing star Patricia Manterola and the opportunity to meet Busch Series driver Carlos Contreras. Two Spanish radio stations, a Spanish TV station and a Spanish newspaper, all in the Los Angeles area, serve as the media outlets for the advertising.

Titled “NASCAR Te Lleva A Las Carreras,” or “NASCAR Takes You to the Races,” the promotion partners NASCAR, California Speedway and Sony. Each sponsor’s marks appear in the ads.

The combined media value of the six-week promotion hit $300,000, with a target audience of more than 7 million, according to NASCAR. California Speedway and NASCAR also combined to create a presence with displays at Hispanic community centers and shopping centers as part of a grassroots effort.

“This is by far our biggest campaign” to target the Hispanic community, Zucker said. “We haven’t done anything even close to this size before. It’s so integrated from the grassroots level to the major Hispanic media. And then it integrates back at the track with music, signage, tickets and a festival on race day.”

Adding to its Hispanic fan base has been a NASCAR priority the last few years. It created the “Drive for Diversity” program in 2004, in part, to attract Hispanic drivers, employees and business partners, and a Busch race the past two years in Mexico City has helped broaden the audience. NASCAR also is counting on a boost from popular Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who has agreed to drive the No. 42 Nextel Cup car for team owner Chip Ganassi next season.

California Speedway’s own Web site, californiaspeedway.com, recently added a Spanish section, and its press releases are now issued in English and Spanish. Nearly half of the Los Angeles area population — 48 percent — is made up of Hispanics, Zucker said, and 42 percent of the fans at California Speedway’s last Nextel Cup race were Hispanic.

“The response has been phenomenal,” said Zucker, who couldn’t release the number of tickets sold as part of the promotion. “I can say that only a few hundred tickets remain. … This is an important marketplace for us and we’ve got to seek them out in a way that they can hear us.”

Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s chief marketing officer, added that the timing of the promotion is a way to honor Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

“This is one of many steps NASCAR and California Speedway are taking to welcome the Hispanic community,” Phelps said.

In other news, California Speedway recently announced that the County of San Bernardino had acquired naming rights for the FanZone, which will be renamed Opportunity, California FanZone. The unique sponsorship will be a key piece of the county’s effort to attract residents and businesses to the area. A NASCAR West Series race on Labor Day weekend is named the Relocate Here 200, and the county also obtained naming rights for a 2007 Craftsman Truck Series race at California Speedway.

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