Tuesday, March 3, 2015
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

 
 
Fairfield police seek help to ID injured bicyclist

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5

 
New receiver for Parkway Gardens wins praise

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

College looks at Measure Q project changes

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A5

 
Robots, raucous businessmen set to arrive on big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Bridge work to shut down Highway 12 east of Rio Vista

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Caltrans reschedules work on J-Mack Ferry

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Highway 12 Association to meet this month

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
State schedules work on Highway 12

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

.

US / World

GOP vote to endorse gay group is momentous but incremental

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lawmaker billed taxpayers for private plane to football game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Netanyahu assails Iran deal, touts US-Israel ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
‘Naty’ Revuelta, who had daughter with Fidel Castro, dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pakistan police arrest parents refusing kids’ polio vaccine

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UN warns against complacency as Ebola fight enters new phase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Iraq launches operation to retake Tikrit from Islamic State

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Woman with slain Putin critic says she didn’t see his killer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Storms bring up nearly 3 feet of snow to Lake Tahoe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
4 people killed, 4 others injured in California car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

California court rules against sex offender law application

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
State water officials announce modest supplies amid drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Federal study: Foster kids struggle to get health screenings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Well-liked photo teacher found dead in California classroom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Budget standoff leaves California college hopefuls in limbo

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Georgia woman seeks to delay death for husband’s murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Police chief: Man killed on Skid Row reached for gun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Military judge orders overseer of Gitmo cases replaced

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Snowy Boston starts removing parking-space savers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Israelis worry about inequality, not Iran

By Daniel Gordis | From Page: A11

 
Editorial cartoon: March 3-4, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Minority outreach that works

By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A11

 
State GOP gathers, celebrates modest successes

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

.

Living

.

Entertainment

Sara Gilbert welcomes baby boy with wife Linda Perry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Judge: CeeLo Green in compliance with probation in drug case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Clive Owen to make Broadway debut in Pinter’s ‘Old Times’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Television’s ‘Judge Judy’ staying in session

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Pop channel bringing Daytime Emmys ceremony back to TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Julianne and Derek Hough to hit the road again this summer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Ming-Na Wen: ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ role makes me a cool mom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
TVGrid March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

NASCAR falls flat in follow-up to Daytona 500

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mayweather and Pacquiao to meet only once before fight week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Michael Schumacher’s son to drive in Formula 4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
UConn still No. 1 in women’s basketball poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Kurt Busch to follow guidelines toward NASCAR reinstatement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Harrington wins the Honda Classic in a playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Catholic school apologizes for racial taunting of hoops foes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Curt Schilling fires back after offensive Twitter posts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wild week leads to changes across AP Top 25 poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
New Browns QB McCown barely knows Manziel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Jordan, other NBA owners join Forbes’ billionaire list

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL salary cap increases $10 million to top $143 million

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

A’s switch-pitcher hopes to find spot with Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sharks trade Desjardins to Blackhawks for Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

.

Business

Buffett declines to clarify plan to eventually replace him

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
US consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, rose in Jan.

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Ikea launches furniture with inbuilt wireless chargers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Google, Facebook update contrasting plans to connect world

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Minimum wage in 1 Oakland jumps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
PayPal to acquire mobile wallet provider Paydient

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Costco strikes credit card deal with Citi, Visa

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

 
Bill Gates repeats at top of Forbes’ list of billionaires

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

HP’s big deal: Tech giant buys Aruba Networks for $2.7B

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Next Google Maps adventure: Soaring through Amazon jungle

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Dot-com deja vu: Nasdaq tops 5,000, approaching record high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Wizard of Id March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Dilbert March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Crossword March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

B.C. March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4