Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talladega Superspeedway cutting capacity to 80,000 in 2014

   Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, which once boasted some of the largest crowds to see NASCAR races, will see its seating capacity reduced to approximately 80,000 seats by next season, tracks officials confirmed on Wednesday.

    The largest change will come from the recent demolition of the Allison Grandstands, a large swath of seats located on the backstretch of the 2.66-mile speedway which had a seating capacity this season of 18,000.

    In recent seasons, many of the track’s frontstretch seats have been tarped over while the speedway still sold tickets - usually at lower price - for the backstretch.

    “The changes are simply a reflection of our current attendance trends,” track spokesman Russell Branham told The Observer. “The goal will be a better fan experience and that will be entirely on the frontstretch from now on.”

    As recently as 2007, track attendance estimates had more than 307,000 fans attending Talladega’s two Sprint Cup Series race weekends. At the time, the track’s listed capacity was 147,000 grandstand seats. This season, the track’s listed capacity was listed at 109,000.

    In the coming months, Talladega will make several additional improvements to the frontstretch, including better sightlines and upgrades to its Sprint Vision capabilities - the portable giant TVs which provide closeups and replays to fans in attendance.

    While the grandstands named after the Allison family are gone, the track will unveil a special tribute to the family and the “Alabama Gang” in the coming months.

    “The Allison family and Alabama Gang have always been a part of our Talladega family and they always will,” Branham said.

    The move by Talladega and its parent company, International Speedway Corp., is the latest by several tracks to reduce capacity while also improving the fan experience for those in attendance.

    Daytona International Speedway is currently in the midst of a two-year renovation project which will reduce capacity and vastly improve the comforts of its primary frontstretch seating area. Other tracks, such as Phoenix, have reduced capacity in recent seasons because of attendance declines.

Sprint Cup Awards to be a little bit country, little bit rock 'n roll


   Musicians John Mellencamp, Dierks Bentley and Sara Bareilles will take the stage, and comedian, actor and radio personality Jay Mohr will host this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at the Wynn Las Vegas.

   The event will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 6, and will crown six-time Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson and honor the remaining top 10 drivers in this season's Chase for the Cup. The event will air on FOX Sports 2 and beginning at 9 p.m. ET, with Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio also providing coverage starting at 8 p.m. ET.

   “It may be just a coincidence, but I hosted the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards in 2006 when Jimmie Johnson won the first of his five straight titles,” said Mohr. “Now, I’m back again to officially crown him champion for a sixth time."

   To get the night started, NASCAR fans will be treated to a special performance by John Mellencamp. With 22 top 40 hits to his credit, Mellencamp has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards. Later in the evening, Dierks Bentley, one of contemporary country music’s biggest stars, keeps his NASCAR performance streak rolling following his act at the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Additionally, three-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and pianist Sara Bareilles will perform a song from her fourth studio album, The Blessed Unrest.

   The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards will re-air on FOX Sports 1 at noon ET on Sunday, Dec. 8.