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Volume 24 No. 159

Events and Attractions

Daytona Int'l Speedway officials hope to use a fishing outing with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart and pro angler Jimmy Houston and “other promotional events to put the Coke Zero 400 at the front of fans' minds" well before the Sprint Cup Series race on July 6, according to Jeffrey Cassady of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. The track's annual summer race has become “more of a regional affair.” DIS VP/Marketing Sean Belgrade said that 60% of those attending the July 4th weekend event “typically come from within Florida.” DIS officials, tourism professionals and hoteliers said that the race, which last year “drew an estimated 115,000 people, is too large and too dependent on late bookings and drive-distance visitors to not promote heavily in the final few weeks before the race.” Belgrade said that DIS for this year's race has booked singer Sheryl Crow for a pre-race concert and "sent NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne to make a promotional appearance earlier this week in the important drive-time Tampa market and got an early start on announcing hotels that will offer discounted room rates over the race weekend.” He added that driver Aric Almirola “will appear June 25 in Tampa, the second-largest source of Coke Zero attendees behind Orlando” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 6/13). In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis notes Houston was “trucked in” yesterday for the promotion and the bass fisher's “presence made for a happier Tony Stewart.” Stewart said, “It used to be you'd show up, do TV, print media, maybe do something quirky. Nowadays, the tracks are finding ways to make it fun for us. To be able to come out here and fish with Jimmy Houston, that's a cool day” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 6/13).