O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


By John Sturbin

The camping grounds circling Texas Motor Speedway have been filled on a daily and nightly basis this week in anticipation of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race.

These mobile “temporary cities” are precisely what TMS President Eddie Gossage wants to see out of his tower office window, and why he remains a supporter of fans who have voiced their preference for a traditional three-day schedule for the track’s spring and fall NASCAR weekends.

“The fans are the only ones that matter,” Gossage said during a visit Saturday morning with DFW Metroplex and national media in TMS’ sixth-floor conference room. “I’m not being sarcastic, but you guys (media) don’t matter. The teams and the drivers don’t matter. The fans are the only ones that matter.”

Gossage noted a trend toward two-day race weekends has begun developing among some promoters looking to leverage reduced operating expenses with an “enhanced schedule” of track activity.

“There’s mixed opinions on that, whether two-day works well or not,” Gossage said. “Personally, I would subscribe to the theory that three days is better than two, four days is better than three and so forth. We won’t be changing to a two-day weekend. We’ll probably have exactly the same schedule in 2018 that we have in 2017. And I don’t see that changing for us any time in the near future.

“I think there are going to be a number of events that will be two-day events. I don’t know how many and I don’t know who. You already have some. You saw Martinsville and Pocono and Watkins Glen and Indianapolis go to two-day weekends. We already had some with night races, like Richmond and Bristol, being two-day events. I think you’ll see a few more, but we just believe fans want to come out here and camp and have a big time and enjoy being at the track and seeing the cars on the track on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday…so we want to do what the fans want to do and we think that’s what our fans want.”

Track activity here actually began Thursday afternoon with a pair of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practices.

“First, whatever the fans want is what we want to do,” Gossage said. “Our fans have made it clear they like a three-day weekend and would prefer a four day. We talk to them about distances: is our race the right length at 500 miles? Because there’s some people that keep saying, ‘You ought to shorten your races up.’ We get people saying, ‘No, you need to be 601 miles…we’re Texas. We should be bigger than anybody.’ The sense I get from our fans is they like NASCAR, they want more of it. So we want to do what we can to help give them what they’re looking for.”

Gossage added there certainly would be a financial impact attached to any reduction in the track’s typical weekend schedule.

“We think it would impact camping - that’s a revenue stream,” Gossage said. “We haven’t had a spot open in the infield (camping grounds) since our third or fourth season. It obviously impacts the price of season tickets because that’s one less event per weekend that you take off the season ticket, a lesser price for them.

“So there’s a variety of things that go into it. People pay the same for a suite that they were paying before. They pay the same for a billboard they were paying before. If you shorten up the weekend, those are all things that we would think is detrimental to the track. Some others may disagree with that, but that’s our position.

“It’s a cultural thing. This is how racing is done. We hear from NASCAR that, ‘We’re not treated like a big deal when we come to town. We’re not treated like a Super Bowl…’ You’re not going to help that by reducing the days you’re in town. They think it’s more action-packed, but it’s a significant financial hit.”

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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