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The Callahan Report: Family fun begins at the Brickyard 400

7 August 1999

By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel

Fans shop instead of sit before the Brickyard 400.
INDIANAPOLIS (7:00 a.m.): Credit cards are sliding through the readers at a blazing pace. Lines in front of the NASCAR souvenirs trailers are as long as the traffic lines heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the sixth time, it is NASCAR Winston Cup race day at Indy.

It is a different crowd at the Brickyard 400 than attends the Indy 500. These fans come prepared to spend their hard earned cash on loyalty products. T-shirts, jackets, die-cast cars, and many other logo imprinted items are gobbled up by these American loyalists. The fans that converge on the real estate at 16th and Georgetown for the Indianapolis 500 typically spend their money on liquid products made from barley and hops.

The quantity of fans at both events is overwhelming. The Indy 500 fans head to their seats early to watch the pre race festivities. Brickyard customers stay away a little longer. They mingle with other fans in the comfort of the underneath side of the shady grandstands. They trade racing stories instead of making small talk. The fans of NASCAR know their stuff.

The NASCAR marketing machine has eclipsed all other major sports related sales. The fans continue to buy, buy, buy as the popularity of this fast paced entertainment continues to soar. The excitement of NASCAR racing is contagious. Most first graders recognize faces like Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt. Only Michael Jordon has achieved such notable recognition in American sports.

The sponsors of the sport realize where their bread is buttered. They make a very positive effort to place their stars in accessible locations. Just a glimpse of your favorite driver makes a race fans year.

Note, there isnt anything wrong with the amount of money taken in by the NASCAR related vendors. There are certainly worse places to spend money. NASCAR racing is for the family and friends. Fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters spend the weekend at a NASCAR race and are well entertained. The money spent on tickets and souvenirs is a bargain considering the memories created at a race.

Let the cash registers ring. Another American family outing is about to begin. The green flag flies for the sixth Brickyard 400 at 12:15 p.m. ET.

Editors Note: To view hundreds of hot photos and racing art, please visit The Racing Image Galleries and The Visions of Speed Art Gallery