Bristol Ticket Sales Up for NASCAR Food City 500

By Kent Whitaker
Bristol Motor Speedway
Andrew Weber-US Presswire

Bristol Motor Speedway has announced that ticket sales for the upcoming Food City 500 are ahead of last yea’rs levels. According to a report by Roger Brown of the Bristol Herald Courier, the announcement came during a press conference held on Thursday at the City Hall in Bristol, Tenn.

During the conference, BMS General Manager Jerry Caldwell said that ticket sales are up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on St. Patrick’s Day race weekend.

“We’re absolutely excited about that,” Caldwell said. “We’re excited about the whole week coming up.”

While Caldwell did not elaborate on the exact number of tickets sold, he was encouraged by the fact that fans are already arriving for the March 15-17 race week. Last year’s race drew an estimated attendance that was just over 100,000, which made it one of the speedway’s smaller crowds.

“We’ve already got race fans showing up,” Caldwell said. “And there’s going to be a lot of exciting things coming together.”

Caldwell made his enthusiastic announcements during the press conference, which was held to review traffic updates for the coming race weekend. Brown also mentioned in his report that David Metzger, Traffic Engineer for the City of Bristol, said that race fans would have six routes they can use to enter the speedway during the race events and nine options for leaving the speedway grounds.

With three events under the belt for the 2013 season, it appears that race fans are beginning to break open their wallets once again in order to purchase tickets. Attendance for the first three races appears to be strong as compared to races during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Lagging ticket sales then were often attributed to the economy as well as many race fans’ dislike for the generation five cars.

NASCAR announced in February that the sanctioning body would no longer offer official attendance estimates for races in the 2013 season. According to spokesman Kerry Tharp, the tracks would have the option of providing crowd estimates.

“NASCAR’s race reports generally becomes a box score for the media, and box scores from sporting events do not generally provide estimates,” Tharp said.

Bristol has traditionally been one of the harder tickets to buy over the years as many fans held onto their seats season after season. During the downturn in the economy and the changeover in car designs, the speedway lost some fans. It didn’t help that a redesign of the track seemed to really bother some race fans.

Since then, the management at Bristol has made efforts to reconnect with the fans and tweak the track for better racing. With the early word on higher ticket sales, it may be that their efforts are paying off.

Kent Whitaker is a member of NASCAR media, sports writer covering NASCAR and the NFL, author and culinary writer. You can follow him @thekentwhitaker on twitter or online.

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