I just had a teleconference with Gary Camp (Communications Director) and two other executives with Dover International Speedway. It was a good conversation.
I contacted the speedway on Monday morning, as the Park-N-Ride bus service from the Blue Hen Corporate Center was discontinued this year. It was an excellent service, whereby you paid $20/car to park in a vast parking lot a few miles south of the track and hopped on continually looping busses that would drop you off directly in front of (less than a quarter mile from) the track. It was a highly used service (though dwindling in recent years) for people coming from the south and west. They still kept open a similar service, from the Christiana Mall, for those coming from the north.
The closure of the service was not well publicized, as we found many folks at the track also bewildered about the closure. The alternate plan, per automated message boards, was to park at track Lot 1, which we did. Unfortunately, our parking space was about a mile from the track. Not a biggie for me, but we had three 70-80 year olds, a ten year old, and an eight year old in our group, and as usual, we were lugging heavy coolers and backpacks with headphones, scanner, bino's, etc. Unlike several other tracks we've been to (New Hampshire for instance), Dover wasn't running any sort of tram from parking lots to track. So we hoofed it. It was tough on the seniors and the kiddos.
Apparently the landlord of the BHCC, Pettinaro Co, decided to break their gentleman's agreement with Dover Speedway and the State to allow the service to be run from their lot. They cited additional clients in the Center as well as residents in residential properties they had built adjacent to the center no longer wanted the service running there. This seems odd, as we're talking two days a year, and it's been running for about three decades. It was unspoken in our conversation, but I'm guessing money is the real motivator. The numbers for NASCAR are simply ugly , and I'm guessing the lot was only half full as compared to max capacity ten years ago. Pettinaro either didn't like their dwindling cut, or they required a flat fee and the Speedway was taking the beating.
So anyway, it's a done deal at BHCC - not happening there anymore. They said they are exploring other areas to run the service from. I also suggested a tram service in the lots, which they seemed very receptive to, like they almost had never thought about it themselves. Seriously.
These people (one chick, two dudes) all sounded like 20-30 something corporate go-getter types who weren't real in tune with their customer. Gary mentioned he graduated from my high school in 97, so I put him at about 39. I suggested they contact the Delaware State Fair, who runs a tram system of tractors and tram cars like clockwork. They were very thankful and said they'd surely check with Harrington Casino to see about instituting it.
Lastly, and I don't know if this is why I got a response, and a very personal one at that, over an average Joe. I mentioned that we were 49 year season ticket holders, top row, start/finish line since the inaugural race. One of the first thing Gary asked was if we had a ticket stub or program from the first race. Lol, you'd think they would have kept one of each of those.
Anyway, just some NASCAR behind the scene ramblings. They seem to be hurting everywhere. Will be interesting to see what the next 10-20 years holds for the sport.
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