Kansas Speedway Gets Second Night Race As Track Switches Dates With Darlington
NASCAR has awarded Kansas Speedway two night races for '14, "including the Sprint Cup race on Saturday night, May 10," according to Randy Covitz of the K.C. STAR. The Sprint Cup Series Kansas 400 will be held the night before Mother's Day and the NASCAR Camping Truck World Series SFP 250 "will run under the lights on Friday night, May 9." Speedway officials have been "lobbying NASCAR to bring night racing to the track since the lights were installed" in '10 and the track was awarded a second Sprint Cup race that year. Fellow ISC track Darlington Raceway to accommodate Kansas Speedway "agreed to switch its traditional Mother's Day weekend race with the April date Kansas has occupied in the previous three years." Kansas Speedway "wanted to race in the late spring, when it's warmer than in April but not as hot as it was when the track held races during July 4 weekend in its first five years." The switch also "helps Darlington because it provides some separation on the calendar from races in May at nearby Richmond and Charlotte" (K.C. STAR, 10/12). The AP's Pete Iacobelli noted shifting Darlington's race to April lets the track "tap into the region's college market to attract fans." Darlington President Chip Wile said, "Usually, they're in commencement or exams. This change will let them take part in the tailgate experience and the race." He said that the rest of NASCAR's schedule would come out tomorrow (AP, 10/11).
NASCAR PUSHES FOR DEMO SHIFT: In Charlotte, Rick Rothacker in a front-page piece noted NASCAR's Industry Action Plan "aims to help the sport rebound from the economic downturn and changing consumer habits that have affected all sports." The goal is to "inject more youth and diversity into a fan base that is mostly white and aging by ramping up digital and social media offerings, consider changes to the cars to make the racing more exciting, and even contemplate more radical moves." NASCAR will "spend tens of millions of dollars on the five-year plan, which started in 2011 and is expected to evolve over time." NASCAR drivers and team owners said that they "appreciate the efforts by NASCAR to be more open to their new ideas." NASCAR to help attract younger fans has "spruced up its website and mobile apps after building a media and entertainment hub in Charlotte." It has "worked to bring pop culture figures to races and land spots for drivers in television shows popular with a younger generation." NASCAR also is "trying to meet the next generation’s interests by getting deeper into video games and digital device offerings." NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps said that one challenge with younger fans is the "love affair with cars does not come as naturally as it did with previous generations." Driver Jeff Burton said that to feed interest, NASCAR "should showcase the sophistication of the cars." NASCAR is "working with tracks to make improvements in the fan experience," and that list "includes everything from better signage to improved technology such as Wi-Fi connectivity." The sport also has "increased marketing for the 10 'Chase for the Cup' races that make up the season-ending playoff" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/12).
STILL SEARCHING FOR DIVERSITY: Izod IndyCar series driver Adrian Fernandez said that he is "surprised that 10 years into the Drive for Diversity era, NASCAR still has not been able to create a top Hispanic personality." He said, "In my opinion, I think NASCAR hasn't done enough to bring up a proper Latin or Mexican driver. It's a huge thing missing from NASCAR, having a recognizable young Mexican driver. They have to treat it as an investment for the future. ... We had NASCAR racing in Mexico City with seven or eight Mexican drivers in the field, but it didn't have long-term impact because those drivers weren't racing in the top series in America, so people would forget about them" (ESPN.com, 10/13).