On the heels of the most successful spring race in years, officials at Talladega Superspeedway are hoping for an even better turnout for the fall event.
While many other marquee NASCAR tracks saw sagging attendance, the Geico 500 was marked by loud fans and full grandstands. Anthony Gady, Ticket Sales Manager at Talladega Superspeedway, had a few ideas about the nature of the turnaround.
“We’re really trying to connect with all types of fans,” Gady said. “A couple of our most important outreach programs have been aimed at veterans, first responders and college students.”
It’s that last demographic that NASCAR, long the domain of older fans and "gearheads," has been successfully courting. While television ratings have fallen from their peak in the mid-2000s, there has been a significant uptick in the 18-49 age range over the past year. Gady said that he hopes Talladega Superspeedway can build on that with their college ticket program.
“Our college program has been expanded over the past few years,” Gady said. “Originally, the tickets were $25, but that’s been lowered to $24 with the partnership with Chase Elliott and his team.”
Elliott drives Jeff Gordon’s old 24 car, and his own college program, Chase U, has partnered with Talladega Superspeedway for recent races. The $24 ticket offers a huge value relative to the typical cost of a weekend at the racetrack.
“There are a lot of benefits packed into those $24,” Gady said. “There’s a college camping section in North Park, which is free to students that show their ID. There’s access to the Big One on the Boulevard, a huge infield party on Friday night, as well as the country music concert on Saturday night.”
And of course, the ticket includes general admission seating for the Alabama 500, which allows food and soft-sided coolers through the front gate.
“It’s an action-packed weekend,” Gady said. “In the past, Elliott has come out to the college campground and hung out with the students. They’ve been a great team and a great partner.”
While ticket value is one reason for the resurgence, Gady also pointed to relatable drivers that are having success in the Cup Series.
“Chase Elliott is a Georgia boy,” he said, “and this spring, we saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win his first race. The majority of our consumers are from the South, and having Stenhouse and Elliott find success, bodes well for us and the sport of NASCAR.”
Both Elliott and Stenhouse are a part of NASCAR’s playoffs and survived the first round of elimination.
Of course, there is another name that is helping to draw in the fans, one that is nearly synonymous with success at Talladega Superspeedway—Dale Earnhardt Jr.
With six career Talladega wins under his belt — that’s second all-time, behind only his father, Dale Sr. —some are hoping to see an Earnhardt take the checkered flag at Talladega one last time. As any race fan knows, there’s nothing like the crowd noise at Talladega Superspeedway when Dale Jr. takes the lead.
“This is Earnhardt country,” said Gady.
Student tickets sold out in the spring, and Talladega Superspeedway plans on selling out the College GA section again in the fall.
“We’re excited,” Gady said. “Talladega Superspeedway is the biggest, baddest track in NASCAR. We have fans come from all over the world to see us. As we like to say, this is more than a race — this is Talladega.”