NASCAR Media Conference
Topics: NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway
July 1, 2008
HERB BRANHAM: We're joined now by the president of Daytona International Speedway, Robin Braig.
Robin, February your track was obviously a big show with the 50th running of the Daytona 500. What is the 50th running of the annual July race going to be like?
ROBIN BRAIG: Greetings, everyone, from the World Center of Racing. We're looking forward to another great, historic event. As you know the France family was thinking far ahead when they built this track, not only put their Super Bowl event but their mid-summer classic, as well. It will be its 50th running, as you say.
We have a great lineup starting next Thursday featuring what we truly are, the World Center of Racing, with the Porche 250 and the Rolex Daytona Prototype cars on the track. It's always fun to have them under the lights. Winn-Dixie 250 with the Nationwide Series and the grand-daddy with our new sponsor with the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday night. It's going to be an exciting night, followed by fireworks. If you're a track promotor like we are here in Daytona, there's nothing better than having an event on the nation's holiday in Central Florida where we have beaches and Disney, SeaWorld. This town truly does know how to host tourism.
We're prepared, my staff is prepared, the track looks beautiful still. A little gold left on her from the 500. We're looking forward to a great event.
HERB BRANHAM: We'll open it up to questions now for Robin.
Q. Daytona has many events throughout the year racing and shows besides the NASCAR stuff. When the Daytona 500 comes, the Coke Zero 400, can you describe your emotions and thoughts as the big day arrives.
ROBIN BRAIG: Well, it's fortunately the best of International Speedway Corp's personnel and most seasoned veterans work at Daytona International Speedway. I've been here about 10 years and I'm short compared to the big-timers that have been here for years and years. My point is that I don't have much angst. I don't have much nervousness or apprehension going into any event, whether it's the Daytona 500 or Coke Zero 400 or bike week. The staff has planned ahead. This town welcomes our traffic patterns and our community residents and citizens look forward to the event. Our airport is nearby. Our freeways are nearby. It's just a real joy to see the planning unfold before your eyes.
As Bill, Jr., told me, Just stay out of their way, and stay off the radio. He gave me a hand-held radio one year. When I reached for it, he took it away from me and said, Hey, just don't talk on it. I think that pretty much describes how I was informed and continue to run this track. Just let the work unfold and respect the people that know truly what they're doing.
Q. It's been about 20 years since the race carried the Firecracker name. Is there still romance associated with the name and this race?
ROBIN BRAIG: Absolutely. The old-timers, emails, we constantly do our archives and come across the Firecracker. As you may or may not know, I used to work at Budweiser in their sponsorship department. Entitlements of different sporting events was very important to our sponsors. I'll tell you what, there's nothing harder to shake than the Firecracker 400 name, despite the millions and millions that our friends in New York gave us and our friends in Atlanta, Georgia, are giving us now.
We do everything we can. It's not a new concept. The world of NASCAR, we're somewhat cluttered with sponsors. But we embrace that. We like the Firecracker 400 and the Richard Petty memories, the visions that come with Ronald Reagan, all that comes along with the Firecracker 400. We embrace it and are proud of our heritage. But it's the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coke.
Q. Two of the biggest and best things in Florida is racing at Daytona and Walt Disneyworld. Has there ever been any kind of talk with the difficult any company to get more involved with Daytona and NASCAR?
ROBIN BRAIG: Yes, absolutely. In fact, about three or four years ago we had a Mickey Mouse pace car. We obviously are interested in the 75 million visitors that come to Central Florida, most of them attracted to Disney. We desperately want to get our arms around that data bank, that invitation list, that mailing list, and get their people to come over and see our track, whether it's during an event time or non-event time.
While Disney is extremely proud of their presentation and quite frankly at times don't need any help, and I say that with all due respect, they really don't need us to get people to come to their wonderful attraction. Can't blame them if they don't want them to leave their grounds and spend their money elsewhere.
There are great partners in Central Florida. Disney is one. We've really enjoyed SeaWorld partnership and Universal. They have been great with doing co-promotions and those will continue on, as well. As well as the Kennedy Space Center, where we just had Ryan Newman down there.
There's plenty of partners in the area. Often Disney is the cream of the crop and sometimes don't need us as bad as we need them.
Q. For guys and gals just getting into the sport, can you explain to them what's big difference is between Daytona and the rest the racetracks that are on our circuit?
ROBIN BRAIG: I'm stealing some pages out of Talladega's big and bold, what they're known for. But I think whenever I bring someone to this facility, the first thing they see is the size of it. It starts out by the freeway and it seems like it doesn't end till you get down by the beach.
Then once you get inside the facility, come through the tunnel, you can almost feel the history. Lake Lloyd in the middle, of course these high banks and the gray pavement, we put a touch of modernization with our Fan Zone, the garages, all accessible to our fans.
Somehow we've been able to, with the help of our great design team, have been able to keep our wonderful history as well as make it comfortable for our modern entertainment dollar, which is very much sought over in this market here in Central Florida.
It's more about the bigness, the boldness, the historical value of it once. We take folks from the Daytona 500 experience, they get a chance to see some of our history, then finally just knowing this is the France family's home, this is their town, this is really their state. And if you are a NASCAR fan and on your bucket list, certainly Daytona 500, experiencing some of our racing, is one of the things that must be fulfilled.
Q. We have a lot of old-time fans, watching NASCAR since it started. Has Daytona International Speedway and the state of Florida ever thought about doing a retroclassic with the old type cars on the beach again at any point in time?
ROBIN BRAIG: Well, we certainly have. Bill, Jr., drug us all down there about five years ago and brought some of the old cars back. He came down and held court, as he did often. That was enjoyable. With the 50th running of the Daytona 500, we had all the past champions back.
To be quite honest with you, out of respect for our beaches, the environmental laws have changed over the years. We've got a lot of issues with our hurricanes and the sand, the sea turtles. There's just a whole list of things that go along with trying to do something in an environmental sensitive area that our beaches have now become.
It's not as easy. We can do some fun photo shoots, things like that. But rip-roaring around in that sand, those days are probably gone.
HERB BRANHAM: Robin Braig, thank you very much for helping us out today. Good luck this weekend at the World Center of Racing.
ROBIN BRAIG: Thank you.
HERB BRANHAM: Thank you to all the media. Nice turnout today as always. We truly appreciate the coverage.
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