IMS officials try to lure fans to Brickyard 400
Brickyard 400 weekend starts early this year, with events kicking off Thursday at the track. It's a concerted effort by IMS to bring back NASCAR fans, as ticket sales are in a serious slump.
Fans on the Eyewitness News Facebook page gave a variety reasons why they won't be attending the race, including the heat, the cost and that it's easier to watch on TV. But no matter the reason, IMS believes holding "Super Weekend," packed with races and activities could get more families to buy.
For Guy Quinn, however, it's tradition.
"Been coming here since '94," he said.
Quinn brings his Chicago family to Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400, but has noticed a trend of empty seats at the track.
"When we first started coming here, you know, I don't know, there was a couple hundred thousand people. Georgetown was just loaded," he said.
"Last couple years, there's not been really a lot of people going," said Kevin Mitchell.
Demand for tickets has been in a steep decline for six straight years, down to a mere 138,000 last year. This year may be the same story.
"We have plenty of tickets available," said Doug Boles with IMS. "We're going to be over 100,000. How much over 100,000, nobody knows at this point."
Just like last year, the track has already decided to block off about five sections of bleachers, knowing they won't sell. It's not just Indy, but an industry-wide trend for NASCAR, where ticket sales are down 38 percent nationwide.
"A lot of companies are suffering with a difficult economy and, as families look at their entertainment dollar, they're really figuring out how they want to use them," Boles said.
IMS wants to win those fans back with the Super Weekend strategy. There will be more races and more content over more days, with more interaction with drivers, pits and paddocks.
"We have to offer a value for our fans and that's why we have new content and it may be why we have to think through the structure of our pricing moving forward," Boles said.
Does that mean cheaper tickets to come? Maybe.
Guy Quinn has some ideas, too.
"Free beer would help," he laughed.
For now, IMS hopes making the NASCAR experience here one to remember brings Brickyard fans back.
Track officials are counting on strong walk-up sales and all the events packed into four days.