NASCAR, IMS reach out to fans for Brickyard 400 weekend

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Race teams are just arriving for Sunday's Brickyard 400, but the Speedway has been busy and loud all day Thursday.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NASCAR are working hard to win back fans after declining attendance the last few years.

Fans are getting three full days of practice, qualifications and racing leading up to Sunday's Brickyard 400.

"They are our number one concern," said IMS president Doug Boles.

Since the start of the recession, attendance at NASCAR races has dropped about 25 percent. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other race tracks are trying to win fans back.

"There is just so much more than just NASCAR to racing," said race fan Susan Mackie.

The two Grand-Am races leading up to the Brickyard 400 led Mackie and her husband from Toronto to Indianapolis.

"We are sports car racing fans. We follow these guys. We don't know much about NASCAR, but we are learning," said John Broad.

And NASCAR is learning fans want more than just a single race. They want an event, full of activities to make a trip worth their while.

The amount of time, the amount of money spent on airfare and gasoline is about the same for fans, whether they're coming here for one day or a whole weekend.

"I want all of it. That's the thing. They add all these races that really makes it worth spending the money for," said Lonnie Parrett from St. Louis.

When the Speedway added races last year, Brickyard attendance dipped, but ticket sales for the entire weekend increased. A sport that once was obsessed with speed is focusing more on its fans.

"The most important thing we have are our fans. If we don't feel like they are special, that we're doing something special to get them back here, then we are doing something wrong," Boles said.