Campbell hopes to get fans back at the track
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Danville Register & Bee
MARTINSVILLE - A heavy burden was lifted when Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Boiling announced in August 2010 that Martinsville Speedway was keeping its yearly two Sprint Cup Series dates for the next five seasons.
In the 14 months since that announcement and heading into the Turns Fast Relief 500, the track has put the $1.5 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission, plus the same amount matched by the speedway, into good use with significant upgrades that have made the speedway more attractive to the fan.
Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell and his staff decided that in order to capitalize on the backing received from the commonwealth and ISC, they would need to continue doing what they had been doing all along to provide the best value for fans to see the purest short track on the Sprint Cup Series level. Attendance, woeful at many tracks on the Cup schedule across the country, has remained steady at the 0.526-mile oval despite a few lean races and the crowds have responded in the past two Cup weekends at the short track nestled in Southside Virginia. "We try to make it where you can afford to get to the race, see what you want to see, buy what you want to buy and leave here with money in your pocket. 1 think you can do that here," Campbell said. "That's a focus on everyone here, how we can maintain that, attract people and if we can attract them and keep them here, then they'll want to come back. That's the goal that we have and that's what the state of Virginia realizes with the economic impact that we have on the state. If we got the race fans here, let's bring them back."
Part of bringing the fans back is through a healthy advertising campaign that the track has long been viewed as an essential tool. The Virginia Tourism Corporation invested $200,000 in a marketing campaign for motorsports and NASCAR in Virginia as part of the August 2010 deal, but the speedway continues to broaden its advertising scope through the new digital age. The speedway's Facebook page has grown immensely in popularity and even includes a link to buy tickets at the track. The track has also put good use to its Twitter account as well in an effort to add more exposure to the traditional methods that are still being used. "That's one area that we put a lot of attention to and that's advertising. Throughout history, we haven't changed our methodology in the way we advertise," Campbell said. "Sure you've got to the modern ways of doing it - Facebook, Twitter and the electronic age that we're in - but we still do it the old-fashion way. We still get out to all the tracks that we can, whether it be weekly tracks or Cup tracks leading up to ours, to keep that face out there so people know it. That's the things that we harp on - our ticket prices, the affordability of coming this event and the style of racing that you see here that you don't see anywhere else. So far, it seems to be paying off."
Martinsville remains the lone short track in the Chase for the Sprint Cup and the track is hosting the seventh of 10 races in the postseason. The race comes a week later than in previous years, adding more importance to the outcome ofthe event. " I think people are just yearning to see good short track racing and that's the one thing that you do see when you get here," Campbell said. "At one point, maybe the bigger tracks had a leg up on us on things like that, but I think right now we're in an ideal situation being the only short track in the Chase, people know that they're going to see a great race - not a fuel-mileage race - close action all day long and that's what they spend their hard earn money for."
For additional information contact Ibbie Hedrick at 804-225-2487 or email@example.com.