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Speedway removes seats, adds new amenities to give fans better experience

  • Matt Goslant, vice president of operations and development for the speedway, stands on the new Rock Point area on turn four at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Ricky Deenie of Hickory, North Carolina washes down a NASCAR telecommunications truck outside the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Wednesday.

  • Banners of past winners hang from the stands. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Matt Goslant, vice president of operations and development for the speedway, stands on the new Rock Point area on turn four at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Matt Goslant, vice president of operations and development for the speedway, stands on the new Rock Point area on turn four at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/14/2021 5:41:50 PM

As cars speed around Turn 4 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, fans will be able to stand just a few feet from the Loudon track while drinking a beer and playing lawn games on green turf.

The track’s new bar and viewing area called Rock Point will debut this weekend as NASCAR comes to New Hampshire for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 race.

Ten years ago, more than 100,000 people could fit around the Magic Mile. Now, the maximum capacity of the race track is just over 40,000 people. The decline of available seats has given way to a new emphasis on altering and improving the fan experience.

“Just like any pro sport, attendance is down and TV is up, so what we are trying to do is make it when you do come, the experience is three times greater,” said Matt Goslant, vice president of operations and development for the speedway.

Goslant painted a picture of the speedway in the ’90s and early 2000s. Fans packed into the grandstands – knees hugged to chest, with the fan behind them pressing knees into their back. Attempting to eat or drink while squeezed in your seat was barely possible.

Those days are no longer.

Now, every other row in the grandstand has been removed to provide more space. With cup holders and bar tops installed in the stands, fans have more room to watch, eat, drink and enjoy.

A full section of the grandstands, roughly 10,000 seats, was removed to accommodate Rock Point. But for Goslant, the tradeoff between the number of seats versus quality of the experience was worth it.

“It was a toss-up of ‘do you upgrade and spend the money on infrastructure that we already have plenty of,’ ” he said. “Or ‘do we take them down and transform the space into something kind of new and fresh and different.’ ”

Goslant likens it to new NFL stadiums built across the country. The focus of sports these days, he said, is providing a high-end fan experience.

“We are doing it to increase the experience while you are here,” he said. “We are trying to get trendy and go that route with them.”

It was fairly easy for Goslant and his team to remodel the space as they repurposed materials that were already on site.

The area is five feet higher above the track so fans can have a view of the action. With astroturf, some landscaping and picnic tables, Rock Point was complete.

Areas like Rock Point are more in line with the vision for the future of the speedway, according to David McGrath, the general manager of the track.

“The days of sitting in your seat for three hours are over,” he said. “We want people to get up and view the facility from different vantage points.”

Eventually, Goslant and his team will build replicas of Rock Point for corporate hospitality areas. Two of the four spaces he hopes to build have been sold. The idea is that companies can then entertain with food, drinks and their own designated viewing area of the track.

This all falls into the new focus of the speedway.

“The impetus behind anything we do as a business, is we want to always be improving the fan experience,” said McGrath.

Although there are not as many RVs lined up or fans traveling to Loudon to see the NASCAR stars like Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch, McGrath is looking forward to the excitement of returning to a full lineup of activities and capacity this weekend.

For him, this is the time when all eyes are on New Hampshire.

“The entire focus of NASCAR will be on Loudon, New Hampshire,” he said. “That, I look forward to. We really do sparkle.”


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