Florence Speedway hosted a special ‘free night’ at the Union, KY dirt track – It blew away expectations
Florence Speedway did something amazing on May 13th. They opened the gates, to the public. Track admission came at the steep cost of $0.
So how did that go? Fantastic. The track promoter obviously expected to lose money that night. Well, that didn’t happen. Despite free admission, it was a night entered in black digits.
The free attendance night was created to be a huge marketing tool. The track simply had the goal of putting the product of ‘dirt racing’ in front of some new faces. Faces that might not have attended a race before. After all, it’s free entertainment. Why not give it a try? Then, those same faces would likely return on a ‘paid’. night. That was the marketing plan.
Recently, I visited Florence Speedway for the LOLMDS show. This ‘free night’ idea has grabbed my attention sine day one. So what are the results of the marketing experiment?
Florence Speedway promotor Josh King has the answers for you below.
So how did it go?
After the event: Josh King declares, “It was a huge success. We figure we had somewhere between 6000-6500 people.”
Was it a sell out? In terms of full capacity. The Florence Speedway promoter explains, “It wasn’t a sellout. We had no tickets, so we didn’t have a good way to gauge count. We couldn’t use the gate because if somebody went out and came back in, you’d double the count. Just by looking, roughly knowing how many people we seat, 6000-6500.”
I was just told a fantastic story. A track worker stated a man from the military came for the first time that night. Now, he’s returned, every night since.
King has heard similar stories, “Really? It doesn’t surprise me. That night we had a lot of people in here. A lot of people that have never seen or heard of the place. But I know that there has been people coming back, just from reading emails and messages.”
“We’ve definitely seen some return from it.”
A free night… without losing money?
Do to so many people in attendance. I was curious. Did it actually pay for itself? In concessions and things like that? Could that be possible?
Josh King says it did, “I believe so. Now, here’s the deal. We had a huge sponsor presence that night. A lot of sponsors, so we factor that into it. Overall, the night paid for itself.”
You were expecting to lose money I think? I mean, in the first night. Not counting the attendance boosts in the nights that followed… King recalls the expectations, “We were. It was actually better than we expected. We did huge numbers in concessions.”
Now, that doesn’t mean they are charging outrageous prices for a bite. Florence Speedway charges $2 for a burger, maybe $2.50. But sales from concessions alone were enough to keep the track a float that night. Selling food to a near full-capacity crowd put them in the black.
Do you plan to do more of it? “No. We’re not going to do more than one a season. If you do more than one a season it kinda loses it’s specialness. It needs to be a thing that people look forward to and that you can build to [promote].
“I think more than one. You take away from one, to build two. I don’t know that you could do it weekly or anything like that. It has to be a special event.”
Special events and a variety of events are important. They net a variety of fans in the grandstands and a variety of drivers on the race track.
Josh King describes it like this, “You could pay $10,000 to win late models, every week. You would have a huge field for awhile but eventually, you’d be back to a regular field. Because if everybody see’s it, everybody get’s used to it. You gotta have something to switch it up.”
Expectations before the event
Here’s a quote from before the event. It states the goals and exceptions Florence Speedway had for the one off free night at the races.
Before the event: Josh King stated, ”Even with the sponsorship help, we expect to take a loss on the event, but we are counting it as a marketing expense. We feel we will get more exposure and people through the gates than if we just spent the money advertising.”
As you can read from the post-event interview above. Things went well.
Author: Shane Walters