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Volume 24 No. 117

Events and Attractions

The challenges to this year's Daytona 500 “made it one of the most memorable races in history,” according to Lehman, Swisher & Kelly of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. Daytona Int'l Speedway President Joie Chitwood said that ticket sales were “on-pace with last year heading into the final week before the Daytona 500, so he considered it successful.” He also said that he was “pleased with the national television ratings for this year's 500.” NASCAR estimates that “about 140,000 people attended the 500 on Monday night, following the 180,000 who showed up on Sunday for the race.” NASCAR fans departing DIS' infield after the race said that this year's 500 “turned out to be one of the best ever in spite of a deluge of showers and the fiery explosion of the jet dryer truck that halted racing for more than two hours.” Chitwood said that he was “initially concerned about the inconvenience the delays would pose to fans with travel plans, but ultimately said he was thrilled with the fan support” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/29). In Orlando, Jessica Gillespie notes DIS and NASCAR “work with fire-safety crews to practice emergency protocols.” More than “700 track workers from around the world attend a three-day summit filled with refreshment courses to help train first responders at racetracks.” NASCAR President Mike Helton yesterday said, "Every year for the past several years we've hosted a summit that supplements our at-track visits with a group of NASCAR officials who focus on working with the tracks to address unusual situations that may happen at the racetrack that we know from experience." He added, "But what we do know from experience is that we came prepared for everything, and this evening was one of those incidents that everybody had to collectively react to" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/29).

NO HANDBOOK FOR THIS ONE: Chitwood said, "There is not a true training manual to light a track on fire and respond to it. There's no way to do that." He added, "That's something that you have to talk about in theory. The worst possible thing that can happen to a racetrack is fuel. We hardly ever talk about burning fuel. ... So I'm really proud of the way the team responded." In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis notes in a front-page piece the “next response will likely be at the upper-management level and involve possible changes to safety rules.” Chitwood: "We will evaluate this at a high level, once we catch our breath and deal with it. Safety is paramount, whether it's a track worker, the race driver, the fan, you name it. We'll go through an evaluation and if there's ways we can improve it, we'll definitely take steps to do that" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/29). Also in Daytona Beach, Dinah Voyles Pulver notes the jet fuel explosion “created an environmental concern, but a Florida Department of Environmental Protection official called Daytona International Speedway ‘a model of how to be prepared.’" FDEP Central Florida External Affairs Dir Lisa Kelley said, "They had protocols in place and they instantly implemented them" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/29).

THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Phoenix Int'l Raceway President Bryan Sperber said that the Daytona 500's 30-hour rain delay “won't affect this weekend's Subway Fresh Fit 500 schedule.” Sperber: "The impact will be mostly on the arrival times of some of the sponsor displays and Sprint Cup teams. We expect everyone will be here set up and ready to go on Friday” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/29).

Morale Entertainment, the group that promoted the North Carolina-Michigan State Quicken Loans Carrier Classic on the USS Carl Vinson last November, “confirmed Tuesday it won’t hold the 2012 event in San Diego due to unavailability of an active Navy ship,” according to Mark Zeigler of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. However, the group hopes “to take the game elsewhere.” The organization said that it “has a contract with 2011 NCAA champion Connecticut to play in the 2012 Carrier Classic and has plans for a women’s game featuring Notre Dame." Meanwhile, a separate San Diego-based group “has expressed interest in hosting a game on the USS Midway Museum in San Diego Bay on Nov. 9.” It would “have a different name and involve San Diego State against a high-profile opponent” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/29). Morale Entertainment Founder & Dir Mike Whalen said that his group "hopes to finalize an opponent and venue in the next few weeks” (AP, 2/28).

A lawyer for Baltimore Racing Development LLC said yesterday that the company "plans to dissolve and has informed some investors by email that the company likely won't be able to pay them back," according to Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore SUN. Steven D. Silverman said that his law firm, Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, has been "hired to advise Baltimore Racing Development how to best end its existence." The company has "no employees" and "no business prospects." Silverman said that no decision "has been made about whether Baltimore Racing Development will file for bankruptcy protection." Financial documents indicated that BRD "still owns about $600,000 in assets used to run the race, such as tires and barriers." But the company reported $12M in debts "owed to investors, creditors and vendors, including more than" $1.5M in "unpaid taxes and fees to the city of Baltimore." Silverman said that the company is "trying to figure what to do with its assets" (Baltimore SUN, 2/29).

SCHEDULING CONFLICT: In Baltimore, Jack Lambert reports the Baltimore Grand Prix, "approved by the city for the next five years, can only claim its usual Labor Day weekend date in 2015 if it pays up." The American Legion Convention is "scheduled to come to town that weekend." Visit Baltimore President & CEO Tom Noonan said that if the convention "were to move its date, the partners behind Downforce Racing, the race’s new organizers, would have to pay the American Legion for the change." He said that rescheduling the convention would "have to be done at least two years in advance." Noonan added that there are "no conversations with American Legion representatives about moving the convention at this time." The two events "couldn't coexist because they're both in the heart of downtown" (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/24 issue).