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Williams: HOF Hopes Acceleration Will Pick Up Pace

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 18 2011

Fans line up for events at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The hope is fans will line up in increasing numbers. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Increasing attendance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., has been a constant challenge for officials since the $195 million building opened in May 2010 amid the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Predicted attendance figures for the first year were inflated – about four times more than what should have been forecast. City officials predicted some 800,000 would walk through the Hall of Fame in its inaugural year despite many believing 200,000 was more realistic.

In its first fiscal year – July 1-June 30 – the Hall of Fame reported a loss of $1.42 million. That’s slightly higher than the $1.24 million loss that was forecast in January. Even though the losses are covered by the Charlotte tourism board reserves, $979,563 of the deficit are royalties owed to NASCAR, which has licensed the City of Charlotte to own and operate the Hall of Fame. NASCAR has deferred collecting the royalties until the Hall of Fame becomes profitable.

The Hall of Fame’s budget has it breaking even during its second year, but in order to do so it must generate $4.88 million in admissions revenue. It took in $4.09 million during its first year.

Hopefully, a weekend in January that combines an event similar to the old Winston Preview in Winston-Salem, N.C., with the induction of Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman, Glen Wood and Richie Evans into the NASCAR Hall of Fame will boost admissions in a month that often has sagging ticket sales. Scheduled for Jan. 20-22, the three-day affair will be known as NASCAR Acceleration Weekend.

Dale Inman and Darrell Waltrip congratulate each other after being elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this year. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

With the changes, the Hall of Fame induction activities have taken a page from the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and combined everything into one evening while opening it to fans. Previously, the invitation-only dinner was held on a separate night from the induction ceremony, which was televised live on Speed. In 2012, both will be on Jan. 20, a Friday night. For that evening, fans have a three ticket choice. The induction dinner and ceremony VIP ticket for $299, the induction ceremony premium seat ticket for $75 and a general seat induction ceremony ticket for $40. Each ticket includes admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The following day – Saturday, Jan. 21 – will be the NASCAR Preview 2012 presented by Sprint. For long-time fans who looked forward to the annual Winston Preview, this will rekindle those memories. The fan-focused, day-long event will be inside the Charlotte Convention Center, which connects to the Hall of Fame. Just as it did a decade ago it will feature driver and show car appearances, simulators, games, prizes, autograph and Q&A sessions with drivers from the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series in addition to four of the five NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees from the previous evening.

On Sunday, Jan. 22, the 2012 inductee class exhibits will be unveiled in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Getting people, especially the locals, to drive into Charlotte to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame has been an issue since it opened. Hopefully, a weekend of tying the sport’s present and past together will be the catalyst the facility needs to give its projected budget a boost.

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 18 2011
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • Mr. Racing says:

    January. Nice and cold in Charlotte, right about the time Xmas bills arrive and the world is watching the NFL playoffs.

    Yeah, this will work

  • Terry says:

    The second and third classes made a HElluva lot more since than the 1st group that went in. I among many would not go to the place until
    DAVID PEARSON was in. France Jr. and Ironhead Sr. going in the first class was a kick in the ribs for the long time old school fans.
    Glad to see Inman Bud Moore and Glen Wood as mostly non drivers. Ned was a good choice.