SBJ/November 6 - 12, 2006/This Weeks News

Homestead ties Montoya into race marketing

Curtis Gray had his fingers crossed. His toes, too. The president of Homestead-Miami Speedway knew that all his season-ending weekend needed was Juan Pablo Montoya in the NASCAR Busch Series race, and last week he learned that he got him.

“Ever since Montoya said he was moving to NASCAR (in July), we’ve had a plan in place, just in case he raced here,” said Gray, whose track is the site for Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck events Nov. 17-19. “We’ve got a marketing and promotional plan together. We do a lot of Hispanic marketing anyway, but we’ve been waiting for this announcement so we could integrate Montoya into it. This has worked out perfectly.”

The timing of the Oct. 30 announcement that Montoya would finish out the season by running in the last three Busch races wasn’t quite as convenient for Texas Motor Speedway or Phoenix International Raceway. Officials at both tracks said they simply didn’t have enough time to incorporate Montoya into their marketing plans.

Montoya, a native Colombian, takes over as a full-time Nextel Cup driver for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2007. The Busch races are his introduction to stock car racing.

But in Miami, where he keeps a residence, Montoya will need no introduction.

“We are probably the track that benefits the most by his presence because of the diversity of this market,” Gray said. “At other tracks where there is a large Hispanic population — Texas, Phoenix, L.A. — those are mostly Mexicans. Here, we have a lot of South Americans … there’s more of an international mix. There are Colombians, Brazilians, and they are huge F1 fans. Plus, this is an easy reach from Colombia — they come up here to shop — so they can make a week of it with the race.”

Homestead’s Nextel Cup race has long been sold out, including the 4,300 seats that were added to the grandstand, so the only tickets available are those to the Craftsman Truck and Busch races. There was a spike in Busch ticket sales in the days immediately following Montoya’s announcement, Gray said, but it was too soon to calculate any tangible results.

Montoya will be integrated into much of Homestead’s advertising, Gray said. Homestead’s big media push starts this week with TV and radio ads, including Spanish-language spots. Montoya footage is being inserted into Homestead’s TV ads.

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