Daytona 500 tickets hawked on Facebook by Speedway in hopes of putting fannies in new plastic seats

Speedweeks/Daytona 500
Daytona International Speedway hawking Daytona 500 tickets on Facebook / Headline Surfer®Graphic for Headline Surfer® /
At left is an example of the ongoing ad campaign on Facebook by Daytona International Speedway to push ticket sales for the Feb. 22 running of the Daytona 500.
 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Like a used-car salesman, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood, III, has been doing his PR schtick with a straight face about the new wider multi-colored plastic seats being installed as part of the $400 million Daytona Rising.

But there are only so many times in even one given week when the Speedway's marketing can be pushed even by the Daytona Beach News-Journal in regurgitating the same worn-out theme in trying to boost sales for the upcoming Daytona 500, which hasn't seen a bonafide sellout since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt was killed in a last-lap crash in the 2001 race.

The Speedway will argue there has been a sellout here and there since, but by its own official policy, since attendance started waning at Daytona and numerous other tracks on the NASCAR circuit, attendance figures are not announced.

So DIS, in its haste to get fannies in seats, has turned to Facebook to put fannies in those new, wider. multi-colored plastic seats Yes, Facebook.

Imagine the ridicule NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would face from sports fans if he were desperate enough to push for Superbowl tickets on the the social media site. After all, the Daytona 500 is billed as the Superbowl of NASCAR. Then again, Joie Chitwood Chitwood is no Roger Goodell, so he plays the hand he's dealt, that of glad-hander salesman.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would be laughed at if he pushed Superbowl tickets on Facebook like NASCAR for Daytona 500 / Headline Surfer®Daytona Int'l Speedway President Joey Chitwood pushing Daytona 500 tickets on Facebook / Headline Surfer®Imagine the ridicule if the NFL were to push Superbowl ticket sales on Facebook like NASCAR is dong with the Daytona 500!

So DIS, in its haste to get fannies in seats, has turned to Facebook to put fannies in those new, wider. multi-colored plastic seats Yes, Facebook. Imagine the ridicule NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell  (shown here at left) would face from sports fans if he were desperate enough to push for Superbowl tickets on the the social media site. After all, the Daytona 500 is billed as the Superbowl of NASCAR. Then again, Joie Chitwood, III, (shown  at right) is no Roger Goodell, so he plays the role of glad-hander salesman.

TV Commercials: Speedway capitalizes on Junior & scenes of his legendary father to to push Daytona 500 ticket sales with its emphasis on seats.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. in grandstands with new plastic sweats at Daytona Int'l Speedway / Headline Surfer®Photo for Headline Surfer® /
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is shown in this snapshot from a commercial for the upcoming Daytona 500 in the grandstands at Daytona International Speedway where new plastic seats have been installed as part of the $400 million Daytona Rising.

 

With countless empty seats in July's Coke Zero 400 under the lights at Daytona, Speedway brass have resorted to hawking Daytona 500 ticket sales on Facebook in daily ads, with the signature race that opens the 2014 Sprint Cup season on Feb. 22, the culmination of Speedweeks.

The 1-column wide ad at the top of Facebook's pages for subscribers shows an aerial shot of Daytona International Speedway, with the headline, "Daytona 500 - February 22."

Clicking on the Facebook ad takes the user to a DIS marketing page, showing a cheering Dale Earnhardt, Jr. celebrating his 2014 Daytona 500 win with the following verbiage:

"Maybe you want to be the final fan to witness the race from the classic seats for the last time. Or maybe you want to be the first to see it from one of the brand-new seats. Either way, it’s a unique chance to be a part of history— and guarantee your seats for the milestone 2016 race."

Daytona Int'l Speedway isn't even subtle in showing Turn 4 where Dale Earnhardt was killed in the Dauytona 500 / Headline Surfer®
Daytona International Speedway brasss aren't even subtle in a TV commercial promoting the upcoming Daytona 500 by emphasizing the exect spot where legendary driver Dale Earnhardt was killed 14 years earlier as shown in this still image taken from the commercial shown below. Earnhardt was coming off Turn 4 of the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 where Dale Earnhardt sailed into the outside concrete wall at 185 mph nearly head-on, collecting Ken Schrader in the process after he was bumped from behind by Sterling Marlon who was trying to get by "The Intimidator" to chase down the 1-2 combination of Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Click on the YouTube video of Earnhardt's fatal crash and you'll see the location is exact. And enjoy the musicd of Lynrd Skynyrd's 'Simple Man.'
 

One local race fan from New Smyrna Beach, who asked not to be identified, said he's "sick and tired about reading about the plastic seats" and he's none too pleased that his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, is quitting after the 2014 season.

"All I ever see in the newspaper are stories about Daytona Rising and the new wider seats they are installing," the New Smyrna racing fan told Headline Surfer®, adding he was so turned off by the marketing he decided not to go to the recent Rolex 24.

"It's great that the new seats are wider and everything, which should make all the fat people happy and the new escalators they have so they don't have to wait by the service elevators while the rest of us climb the stairs, but you just know they're going to jack up the prices for hotdogs and beer so that means even less people will come back in July. "

The fan continued, "And if it rains like it did last year, then forget about it. They've got to be desperate to be pushing tickets now. When Earnhardt's father was racing, you couldn't get a ticket to the 500, unless you were willing to take one of those seats that blocked part of the view because of a beam or pole or something." 

Email inquiries by Headline Surfer® to the Speedway's Chitwood and track spokesman Andrew Booth regarding the Facebook ticket salet sales campaign for the Daytona 500 went unanswered.

It's marketing 101 that the Speedway would use last year's Daytona 500 winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. to push ticket sales in a TV commercial. But is the Spedway going too far in tugging on the heart strings of NASCAR fans' memories of his legendary father's crash in the 2001 Daytona 500 whee he lost his life?

The Speedway doesn't actually show the crash, but it does show the elder Earnardt's car amid a potpourri of Daytona 500 highlights, including Richard Petty spinning out into the infield grass, the fistfight in the grass between Cale Yarborough and the Allisons after a crash and the elder Earnhardt's car along Victory lane. And in a second commercial, the cmera points to Turn 4 in a very deliberate way to show the exact location where Earnhardt was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500.

The Speedway showcases Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in one of its commercials, "From Where I Sit," where the two-time Daytona 500 champion says, "Maybe you sat here when the dust settled. Or here when tampers flared. Or here where standing ovation took on a whole new meaning. Well from where I sit this Daytona 500 is the chance of a lifetime."

Then the commercial's anonymous voice pipes in," Its your last chance to experience the Daytona you've always known and your first chance to say hello to the future.

So what's different for this Daytona 500 from all the previous races held here since the Speedway held its first Daytona 500 in 1959? The seats! And though Daytona International Speedway's $400 million renovation is called "Daytona Rising," it's actually the 2016 Daytona 500 where racing fas will notice the difference.

The Speedway is acuually shrinking. Yes, the Speedway is adding 100,000 new wider plastic seats, but here is what DIS and NASCAR aren't telling you in their marketing hype. These are simply replacing older, narrower wooden flip up seats. They are permanantly ripping out the 59,000 seats on the backstretch because the races at Daytona are no longer sellouts. That means seating capacity at Daytona International Speedway will shrink from 160,000 to 101,000. 

So what's different for this Daytona 500 from all the previous races held here since the Speedway held its first Daytona 500 in 1959? The seats! And though Daytona International Speedway's $400 million renovation is called "Daytona Rising," it's actually the 2016 Daytona 500 where racing fas will notice the difference. The Speedway is acuually shrinking. Yes, the Speedway is adding 100,000 new wider plastic seats, but here is what DIS and NASCAR aren't telling you in their marketing hype. These are simply replacing older, narrower wooden flip up seats. They are permanantly ripping out the 59,000 seats on the backstretch because the races at Daytona are no longer sellouts. That means seating capacity at Daytona International Speedway, the Holy Grail of stock car racing will shrink from 160,000 to 101,000. 

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.