Garage Fan Zone at the heart of Phoenix Raceway renovation drive: Bryan Sperber



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Phoenix Raceway

In an exclusive interview to Coliseum, Phoenix Raceway President offers a peep into the blueprint of $178mn facelift of the Avondale-based track that would enhance the fan experience significantly

 
If you are a motorsports enthusiast, you can gear up for a heightened fan experience once the Phoenix Raceway is through with its massive $178 million modernization plan, announced at the beginning of this year.

Imagine walking in straight into the garage, getting past the stunning race cars while interacting with your favorite team and taking selfies with star drivers that you fancy. This enhanced experience, dubbed as the Monster NASCAR Cup Series Garage Fan Zone is at the heart of the facelift drive of the Avondale, Arizona based raceway, according to Phoenix Raceway President Bryan R Sperber.

 

New fan zone

“When they pop into the new fan zone, they are going to see a high-energy area that would showcase victory lane, pre-race NASCAR inspection, drivers meeting on the big red carpet and so on. The one area that I am particularly excited about is our interactive garage. I think we have been able to crack the code [with the concept] where race fans will now actually be able to go into the garage which is the one area where everyone wants to get into,” Sperber said in an exclusive interview with Coliseum.

“So we will place them at the nose of the race cars. Imagine the race cars pulling into the garage, the hood is up and fans able to see what work is being done to the engine. They will be able to interact with the race teams and drivers, take selfies and whatever they want to do,” he added.

Besides the fan zone, the other big changes will include a revised infield, moving the start/finish line to Turn 2, and creating a new tunnel for pedestrians to get to and from the infield and their seating areas, which will also apparently have Wi-Fi. Close to the seats will be new elevators, bathrooms, and concessions, too.

“When we reconfigured the racetrack back about six years ago, we built a tunnel under the race surface but it was never opened. We will be opening up the tunnel now so that we can connect the midway and grandstand area to the infield. This will allow visitors to get into the new fan zone in a very convenient way,” Sperber explained.

The construction project is scheduled to be finished in November 2018.

 

From Daytona to Phoenix

For nearly 30 years, Sperber has been an integral part of the motorsports and entertainment industry at its highest levels, consistently spearheading change and innovation from coast to coast. Currently the President of Phoenix Raceway, Sperber has guided the strategic and operational vision for one of the most popular venues in the sport, for both fans and drivers alike.

Throughout his 15 years as president of Phoenix Raceway, Bryan has guided the track through significant capital expansion, overseen the addition of a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, as well as helped secure the return of the Verizon IndyCar Series to the Raceway. The jewel of his tenure at Phoenix Raceway is the current $178 million modernization project – the Phoenix Raceway Project Powered by DC Solar – which will create a best-in-class facility in Phoenix that will serve as a destination for motorsports fans everywhere.

The veteran motorsports professional, who originally hails from the racing hotbed of Daytona Beach, Florida, hinted that the enthusiasm that the $400-million makeover of Daytona International Speedway last year generated among race fans and sponsors led to the decision of modernising the Phoenix Raceway. Both Daytona and Phoenix tracks are owned by International Speedway Corporation.

“Daytona was our first test. We deployed $400 million to ‘re-imagine’ Daytona and the results were a brand new motorsports stadium. It is the only one of its kind. The makeover met with tremendous enthusiasm. Race fans and sponsors were all excited. This really gave us lot of confidence and meant we were on the right track. To continue on Phoenix was up next. So that’s what we have done and we are moving ahead with $178 million capital deployment here,” Sperber said.

 

Green strategy

The Phoenix Raceway has signed in DC Solar, as its powered-by sponsor of the construction project and title sponsor of the track’s fan activation zone.. The California-based clean energy company specializes in mobile solar projects and has been a NASCAR team sponsor for a couple of years.

“DC Solar is our founding partner… so right away we would be able to take advantage of solar energy. We really excited to have them on board,” Sperber said, elaborating on the green strategy for the renovation project.

“We have got some other sponsors that are in queue, [the names of] which we would be announcing over the next year. These sponsors will also tap into a wide range of services and products including green energy, technology, gaming and a variety of different areas that the fans are really going to appreciate. In many cases, these will enhance the fans’ live experience. I think this is going to be a really leading edge motorsports venue that will delight our customers,” he added.

 

Events and profits

Phoenix Raceway currently have six to eight big racing days a year, which it targets to increase with more events. “We have got two big NASCAR weekends that are multi-days events – one in March and the other (which is the semi final race) in November. Then in April, we will have the IndyCar event. So those are three big public ticketed events,” Sperber said.

“We also have another big event, which is our preview of the pre-season IndyCar testing. The event includes all the drivers, all the teams and so that’s really turned into a big public spectacle as well. Therefore, I would say that we have really four big weekends,” he added.

“With only four big public spectator weekends, we certainly have room to be able to host other events. Over the years this venue, because of its age and the challenges around the physical structure, has really limited our ability to attract other events. That all changes now and literally our phones are ringing with other potential promoters bringing events to co-venture with us or use our facility as a host,” Sperber concluded.

More details on Phoenix Raceway is expected to be discussed at the next Coliseum Summit US, May 9-10, 2018 in Detroit.




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