Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Word from the President: Fanatics Tent is the Future

Times, they are a-changin’.

This past weekend at Pocono Raceway, if you were perusing the merchandise area looking for apparel from your favorite NASCAR driver, you may have noticed a slight difference in the way you shopped.

With the exception of a few NASCAR teams, the majority of the souvenir trailers that fans are used to see lining streets outside of NASCAR tracks are now transformed into a trackside superstore through a new partnership with NASCAR and Fanatics. While change can be scary for some, in most recent cases – the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff format, for example – it can also be great for fans, drivers, and industry stakeholders.

Such is the case with the new Fanatics superstore. With 60,000 square feet, the store now allows fans to easily shop for their favorite merchandise, hold it, try it on and really make an educated decision on what they want to purchase.

Each of the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers has their own section filled with new and fun T-shirts, hats and other apparel waiting for the fans. If you have more than one favorite driver, you can simply walk next door and view their apparel. Bring all of your items to the front and you can purchase everything at one time and put it on before the race begins.

The store comes complete with new selection of souvenirs, such as a diecast car section loaded with 1,400 cars. There is also a section with 10,000 driver New Era hats. There are now women’s and children’s sections to give fans even more options for apparel. All of your favorite drivers gear is now in one place at one time and very accessible to all fans who need to touch things and try on different sizes before making a purchase.

Here's an example of the hat display in the new Fanatics tent. (Photo credit: Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images)

Drivers such as Martin Truex Jr. would sometimes comment about how fans wouldn’t be able to find his merchandise because it may be tucked back in a corner among other haulers. Now, fans can easily find his section via a picture of him above the dedicated space and find a wider variety of other items to purchase besides hats and shirts.

NASCAR is so unique in that guests at our tracks may not be a fan of just one driver, as they would be a fan of one team in any other major sport. Many guests support multiple drivers, and Fanatics has now brought fans together in one place to support their driver or team.

Even drivers such as Michael McDowell and Landon Cassill, who did not have their own haulers before, have spaces in the new Fanatics tent.  NASCAR is one of the most sensory sports in that fans cheer on a driver because they feel they have an emotional connection to them, and the new superstore just adds to that feeling by giving fans of drivers such as Cassill a way to connect even more.

While several devotees may feel nostalgia for the old haulers, this change is the great step in the right direction for our sport. When it was announced in January that the haulers would be going away, many fans had questions about how the new tent would be received and what it would bring to the tracks. Being able to see it in person this past weekend I think changed the minds of a lot of fans, and also allowed them to bring home new items they may not have been able to get before.

Just to put it in perspective, at the June Pocono race, there was merchandise available for 33 drivers at 23 haulers. The new Fanatics tent brought apparel for 58 drivers, including a section for Dale Earnhardt Jr. that expanded 2,000 square feet.

To add to the new selection of apparel fans can find at the new superstore, by the end of the year, NASCAR and Fanatics hope to have on-site personal printing options where fans can put their names on their purchases. There are also plans to add the capability to print and sell race-winner merchandise to fans after a race.

Picture this: after the Ford EcoBoost 400 on November 22, when one of the Championship Four drivers claims the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and you are celebrating with the driver on the frontstretch, you may have the capability to leave Homestead-Miami Speedway with championship merchandise and wear it on Monday morning.

As Martin Truex Jr. said at the opening of the new tent this past weekend, “Welcome to 2015.”

Matthew Becherer
President, Homestead-Miami Speedway