Wednesday, December 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Helton: Talladega races still have big impact

By
From page B8 | July 11, 2014 |

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mike Helton has seen Talladega Superspeedway’s capacity expand in boom times and shrink along with the crowds at one of NASCAR’s signature tracks, moving in tandem with the sport’s ebbs and flows.

The speedway cut its seating capacity nearly in half in recent years, going from 140,000-plus to 78,000 as the sport dealt with a recession and the challenge of getting fans back in the stands when they can watch at home on flat-screen TVs.

“We want to be relevant, and Talladega wants to be relevant,” said Helton, NASCAR’s president, who ran Talladega Superspeedway from 1989 through 1993. “When I left Talladega, we had 47,000 seats. The sport has grown. We’ve gone through a cycle, and now we’re going through another cycle to get back to where we want the sport. I think Talladega has done a very nice job trying to figure all that out.”

Helton, team owner Richard Childress, Talladega chairman Grant Lynch and Coca-Cola marketing executive Brenda Staton pitched the virtues of the sport and the famed track to area business representatives on Thursday. Helton said corporate interest these days is “strong and actually in some cases growing.”

Talladega, meanwhile, is adapting to the times — and the dwindling, if still impressive, crowds.

Lynch said more than 100,000 people showed up for the spring Sprint Cup race, including those camping out in the infield. It’s still a marked decline considering unofficial race attendance used to approach 175,000 before the 2008 recession.

Talladega tore down the Allison Grandstand after last season. Track officials don’t release attendance numbers.

“It’s been real tough,” Lynch said. “Any time there’s a downturn in the economy — we have a blue-collar fan base at Talladega. The lift that the country has seen has been slow to get to the Southeast around Alabama. Most of our crowd are in the manufacturing and automotive and those types of sectors, which are dragging behind some of the others.

“It’s been a tough time. But what you do in tough times, you look at your business model and you do things like let’s replace our seats. Let’s put bigger seats in for the fans so they’re more comfortable when they’re in them.”

He said the track has spent $68 million in recent years improving the facility, including putting in larger seats and redoing all the bathrooms.

Childress thinks downsizing capacity at Talladega fits with the times, but also said NASCAR racing keeps getting better.

“It’s like any business or anything,” said Childress, whose teams have won a record 12 races at Talladega. “You build, you build, you build and keep trying to get the seating capacity to bring people in. When 2008 happened, not only to our sport but to every sport and everything else, we had to change our model like everyone else of how we ran our businesses. At the time, people had all kinds of extra money to spend. Now that they don’t, you’ve got to downsize and get it back where people want to be in those 78,000 seats.”

NASCAR’s longest track, at 2.66 miles, is known for steep banks, wild racing and frequently big wrecks. Helton calls it “a benchmark in the motorsports industry” and “a very significant stop for us.”

“Our ultimate product is a race on the racetrack,” Helton said, “and Talladega delivers that routinely.”

The speedway is also a big deal for the area’s economy.

Lynch said a recent study showed that the Talladega spring and fall races had an average combined economic impact on the state of $380 million annually in the last decade. He said 71 percent of the fans come from out of state, an average of 290 miles away.

“It’s a player of great magnitude in the entertainment world,” Helton said. “This area has the impact of a Super Bowl twice a year routinely for 45 years. Don’t take that for granted.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Sweetest menorah in Solano County gets lit

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Muscular disease does not deter boy’s giving spirit

By Glen Faison | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Early Christmas dinner for homeless serves more than 100

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
 
Fire races through Fairfield home days before Christmas

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 9 Comments | Gallery

 
Truck crash closes Enterprise Drive

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

Motorcyclist injured in crash

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
No holiday ferry service

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

Scrabble fundraiser benefits Armijo newspaper

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Library seeks literacy tutors

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A5

 
Teddy Bear Tea set Jan. 31

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

Depp, Cooper, Streep light up the big screen on Christmas

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

 
Woman reunited with car stolen nearly 30 years ago

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Wildlife groups seek help for California owl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California road rage captured on cellphone camera

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Police officer dies from hit-and-run injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Los Angeles cracks down on tow truck bandits

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Too late: Cops’ deaths highlight outdated systems

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 4 Comments

 
NORAD tracks when Santa Claus is comin’ to town

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Brown picks aide to lead troubled California utility board

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Police mistreat California Muslim man, group says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Belfast leaders strike deal to save power-sharing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
From Iraqi mountaintop, a fierce battle to free IS-held town

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Proposal seeks gun permits for Colorado pot users

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
US moves to end ban on blood donations by gay men

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Gay marriage cases teed up for justices’ action

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

 
.

Opinion

Gratitude to a Samaritan

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
Have a heart

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
Common sense seeps into Capitol

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Being a good role model best thing uncle can do

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Dec. 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

Dressing up a basic gingerbread for Christmas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Healthy roast for the holidays? With pork, easily

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

Sony re-gifts ‘The Interview’ in limited release

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Justin Lin to direct third ‘Star Trek’ film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Cosby not finding support in black community

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Jennifer Lopez to perform at Caesars Palace on NYE

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Sports

Gore hopes to stay with 49ers beyond this season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mack makes big impact as rookie with Raiders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Lakers stun Warriors 115-105 without Kobe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Rodriguez’s Rankin named 2014 DR Coach of the Year

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Peavy and Giants finalize $24 million, 2-year contract

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Aldon Smith says he didn’t drink at McDonald home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Seahawks regain top spot in AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is AP player of year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

MLB average salary exceeds $3.8 million

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rodriguez boys roll by Kennedy of Richmond 83-62

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Broncos have league-high 9 players selected for Pro Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders send Derek Carr home sick

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

A look at the Dow’s 1,000-point milestones

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Dow 101: The Dow and how it works

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

US economy accelerates and helps lift Dow to 18K

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
It’s becoming easier to shop overseas this holiday season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Safeway pulls caramel apples amid listeria scare

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Obituaries

Robert ‘Bob’ Eugene Jenkins

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Robert D. Thurman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5