One track experiencing a short-term windfall from Jeff Gordon’s farewell tour this season is Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of this weekend’s Brickyard 400, which airs on NBCSN.
The Indianapolis Business Journal has details on how the 2.5-mile track is getting a boost in ticket sales as the driver who once called Pittsboro, Ind. home prepares to make his final run in the race.
The report says that race marketers are expecting a rise of between 15 to 20 percent in ticket sales for Sunday’s race. This translates to about 20,000 more tickets sold for about $1.5 million in revenue.
Track President Doug Boles told the IBJ that sales compared to 2014 have been up every week since Gordon announced his retirement on Jan. 22 and that as a whole sales are up by a “double-digit percentage.”
This comes as attendance figures began dropping rapidly after the combination of the tire fiasco of the 2008 race and the recession the began the same year.
IMS began capitalizing on Gordon’s retirement when it announced he would drive the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 in May.
“It was an opportunity for us to thank him for all he’s done for us and to remind Indy 500 customers this year’s [Brickyard 400] may be the last year to see Jeff Gordon race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Boles said. ““We have never called out one driver in one of our ad campaigns for any race like we are this year with Jeff Gordon.”
In addition to once calling Indiana home, the Brickyard’s history is completely tied to Gordon, who won the inaugural running of the race in 1994 and added four more wins since, including last year.
“At the height of the race, Jeff Gordon had six merchandise trailers,” said Dave Moroknek, the Speedway’s senior director of marketing and consumer products from 1992-2002. “Other popular drivers, guys like Dale Earnhardt Sr., would maybe have three. A lot of well-known guys like Dale Jarrett would only have one or two.”
Once Gordon is gone from the cockpit and in the Fox announcing booth, former IMS chief of staff Ken Ungar said IMS and other tracks will have work to do to fill the void Gordon’s departure will leave with fans.
“During this year’s Brickyard 400, the Speedway staff needs to talk about the legacy of Jeff Gordon and what it means to the future of NASCAR,” Ungar told the IBJ. “They need to talk about other NASCAR drivers in the context of Jeff Gordon and to emphasize they stand on the same stage Gordon has stood on.”