By ALAN SNEL
Martin Truex, Jr. was snappily dressed around mid-day today, wearing a plaid blue suit and silk tie to match. Truex’s stylish look could have given fashion plate MMA fighter and chatty Conor McGregor a run for his wardrobe money.
The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion enjoyed a successful year on the race circuit that will be celebrated this week during NASCAR’s awards events on the Strip.
But Truex joked he wasn’t as successful in the casino last night. “I just need to figure out how to make money at the table. I made my donation last night,” Truex said.
Truex is among the millions of annual Las Vegas visitors who have found their way to Sin City. And the backers of a historic second NASCAR tripleheader weekend event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2018 hope the lure of the Vegas brand will be strong enough to make it profitable to add NASCAR tripleheader weekend number two in September. The Speedway will stage its customary March NASCAR event on March 3 and 4, with the new second weekend set for Sept. 15 and 16.
It’s not unusual for NASCAR to hold two races at the same venue every year. For example, Pocono, Dover, Kansas, Daytona and Talladega come to mind.
But Truex said sometimes it good for a community to “put all its effort into one race.”
With the Las Vegas market gaining a new NHL team in 2017 and a WNBA team and a new professional soccer club coming on line in 2018, Truex said, “I always worry about over saturation.”
But the proponents of that second race in Las Vegas are not so worried. They point out that the Vegas experience is a powerful lure for NASCAR fans who can gamble in the casinos, hit shows on the Strip and build a whole get-away vacation around the September NASCAR event in 2018.
“This market is a great market for race fans,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing, Truex’s team. “You’re talking about Las Vegas. Everybody loves to come here anyway.”
Racer Ryan Blaney said it’s a good idea for NASCAR to target the West Coast region while also hunting for the young demographic fan. Speedway Motorsports, Inc., which owns Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is well aware of the task of building a younger fan base to bolster its older fans.
Blaney noted signing up Monster Energy as the NASCAR Cup Series title sponsor was a good move to “get kids in the sport.”
Blaney also said making the track venue and pit row accessible to fans is essential, too, to sell tickets.
Meanwhile, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, known for his social media prowess as well as his racing skills, said if there was a town that can accommodate a second annual NASCAR weekend, it’s Las Vegas.
Keselowski, known for firing out NASCAR’s first in-car tweet, said NASCAR needs to create more energy during the races to create value for broadcast rights holders.
Chase Elliott, a NASCAR driver who just turned 22 yesterday, said the races need to have an entertaining appeal.
“If a person finds something entertaining, they will come and watch it,” Elliott said. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is counting on that.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com