One of the hottest race tracks in the country had a stellar weekend last week for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park. Last year, the track really got taken notice of when they knocked it out of the park for the Verizon IndyCar Series race on the St. Louis area track.
On Saturday night, the Truck Series race not only had a title sponsor (Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 presented by CK Power) but they showed gains in attendance as well as ratings.
Track officials site great weather with a favorable forecast as to why the bump of over 1k in fan attendance. They also say that it was a “dramatic increase” from the crowd that showed up in both 2015 and again in 2016.
Those races were affected by rain which is why without any rain in the area on Saturday night, 17k showed up this past weekend.
To even further the point, FS1 totaled a viewing audience of 571k. That’s a 14-percent increase over the 2017 race (502k).
“In the five years of hosting this event, Saturday’s race was the first time we had a great forecast rolling into race day,” said GMP Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Blair. “We had a great 2014 event, but we suffered rain at 5 p.m. on race day in both 2015 and 2016. Then, in 2017, we had severe weather forecasts that plagued us until 4 p.m. on the day of the race. Despite those weather challenges, we continue to build on what is arguably one of the biggest events on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule. It’s not too often that we hear about live events showing tremendous growth and we want to thank the fans who continue to keep coming back, year after year. We were also excited to hear that our digital and broadcast consumption numbers were up as well. This event is a great showcase of our sport, our facility and the St. Louis region to an impressive national viewing audience.”
The newly-repaved 1.25-mile oval, which is part of the track’s more than $25 million in improvements since 2012, produced incredible racing throughout the field.
“Going into race day we didn’t know exactly what to expect,” continued Blair. “Our advance sales were on par with last year, but we had a tremendous walk-up. Once again more than 75 percent of our crowd arrived in the hour prior to the green flag our staff did a tremendous job to get everyone parked quickly. We are working on additional programming in 2019 to get our fans to the venue earlier so that we don’t have the last-minute congestion. Events like the one we had Saturday proves that St Louis is a racing town and our fans are hungry for NASCAR racing action.”
GMP also debuted its new Rumble Before the Roar pre-race party zone that entertained more than 500 fans from 3-7 p.m. For just $20, fans were treated to bar Olympics, a DJ, mechanical bull riding, a cornhole tournament and complementary refills of soda and beer.
“While attending this year’s Phoenix Open golf tournament, track owner Curtis Francois challenged us to come up with a huge pre-race party,” Blair explained. “Curtis gave us the concept and the resources to assemble this new and exciting venture. For its first time out of the box we are ecstatic with the results and we think it will be massive during our INDYCAR race in August. His vision for The Rumble was to attract a younger, college-age crowd to the track in hopes of exposing them to the sport. It also serves the purpose of giving the die-hard race fans a place to mix and mingle with friends before the event without breaking the bank. When all was said and done we had great reviews and Curtis was happy, so we accomplished our goal of bringing his idea to life.”