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Successful “Battle at Bristol” has SMI looking to host more football games

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After producing the largest crowd in NCAA football history with the “Battle at Bristol” on Sept. 9, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the company is hopeful of hosting future games.

Making it happen is a work in progress Smith said on SMI’s third quarter earnings call with investor analysts Wednesday morning.

“We’re certainly working on that,” Smith said. “We’re pleased with the results of the game. There’s a process, it’s not a simple thing to put together, but we’re definitely working on that and have been working on that even beginning before the game in September. We’re not ready to announce a schedule at this point but we’re certainly working to that goal.”

The game produced a football attendance record of 156,990 fans, which broke the previous record of 115,109 in 2013 for the Notre Dame – Michigan game. The speedway can hold approximately 160,000 fans on a race weekend.

Bill Brooks, SMI vice chairman and chief financial officer, said the game brought in $5-6 million in gross profit.

With tracks in markets like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Las Vegas, among other locales, Smith believes there is value in using SMI racetracks for events other than racing. Since 2011, Las Vegas Motor Speedway has hosted the Electric Daisy Carnival, one of the biggest electric dance music festivals in the world.

Smith said the “Battle at Bristol” football game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech showed what is possible at a speedway.

While holding a football game at racetrack helps bring in additional money due to being able to host more fans, Smith believes it has to go beyond numbers.

“If you go back maybe 10 years when we really put a lot of effort into trying to put together this game, the timing just wasn’t right,” Smith said. “There weren’t any, what we would call non-traditional venue games being played. But since then you’ve seen things like in the NHL Winter Classic, or in NCAA basketball there is the Carrier Classic every year, and these non-traditional site games have developed some really significant events that no matter if you’re an athletic director or an alumni of the particular school, the events are special and not only is it a great entertainment event but also a great recruiting event for the schools.

“The money is part of it but certainly, not the only part of it. If it were just about the money it really couldn’t be sustainable, it’s got to be a bigger factor than that. The recruiting element, the excitement and specialness of the event all play into why schools would want to be a part of something like that.”

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Mental fatigue, endurance are biggest challenges for drivers in Coca 600 (video)

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While you’d think they’re the same thing, mental fatigue and endurance are two entirely different animals when it comes to racing in NASCAR’s longest race of the season, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

On Friday’s Motorsports Special on NBCSN, NASCAR on NBC analyst and former NASCAR Cup crew chief Steve Letarte explained how drivers deal with both the mental and physical strain of the grueling race. Also giving their viewpoint were Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman.

Driving around isn’t grueling you say, eh? Tell that to Brad Keselowski, who lost an incredible 16 pounds racing in a 600 a few years back.

Drivers will make sure to stay hydrated with liquids — and even snacks like candy bars to keep their energy boosted — during the course of the race.

Check out Letarte’s analysis in the videos above and below.


Legendary announcer Ken Squier gets you ready for Sunday’s big day of racing (video)

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Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula One’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.

Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400 lap, 600 mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).

Roller coasters, bicycling & softball: How drivers spent their day off

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With no track activity, NASCAR Cup drivers had a free day on Friday and some were able to get out and about.

Jimmie Johnson helped organize a 69-mile bike ride Friday morning for 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden, who died May 22 at age 35 from injures suffered when he was hit by a car while cycling in Italy. The 69 miles ridden were for the number Hayden raced with in his career. Among drivers who joined him were Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez.


Others did other activities on their day off.

Ryan Blaney went to Carowinds amusement park just south of Charlotte, North Carolina, and took to periscope as he rode in the front row on the Fury 325 roller coaster, which reaches a peak height of 325 feet and then goes into an 81-degree drop.

The ride reaches speeds up to 95 mph. The coaster is North America’s longest steel coaster at 1.25 miles. The average ride time is 3 minutes, 25 seconds, and the ride crosses both the North Carolina and South Carolina border.

Brad Keselowski spent part of his team playing in the Team Penske softball game and provided proof of his hitting ability.

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Stewart-Haas Racing, Nature’s Bakery reach settlement that includes sponsorship

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Stewart-Haas Racing announced Friday that it has reached an agreement with Nature’s Bakery that will include the company serving as a sponsor for four Cup races split between Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick.

Those four races will be announced at a later date.

As part of the agreement, all lawsuits between Stewart-Haas Racing and Nature’s Bakery have been dropped.

Stewart-Haas Racing filed a $31 million breach of contract lawsuit against Nature’s Bakery on Feb. 3. Nature’s Bakery had two years remaining on a three-year contract to sponsor Danica Patrick’s team when the company sent the team a notice of termination on Jan. 19 . Nature’s Bakery was to have paid $15,212,000 each season to sponsor the team.

Nature’s Bakery filed a counterclaim Feb. 25 stating it did not see the return it was led to believe in sponsoring Patrick’s team.

“It’s gratifying to see a difficult situation get resolved in a professional manner that suits all parties,” said Brett Frood, president, Stewart-Haas Racing. “Together, we worked diligently to find an equitable solution to our collective challenges.”

“I am a longtime motorsports fan and, particularly, a fan of NASCAR,” said Dave Marson, founder of Nature’s Bakery. “Our partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing began with direct, open conversations and that foundation allowed us to reach this agreement.”

Other parts of the agreement were not revealed.

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