Saturday's race at RIR still not sold out

By Laura Geller - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – There are only two days until race weekend and as the excitement mounts, so do ticket sales. At this point, it doesn't look like the stands at Richmond International Raceway will be completely packed for Saturday's big event. In the past few weeks, sales have drastically picked up. Officials are hoping that trend continues.

There's one last race to make the chase and the sign lighting up Laburnum Avenue says there are still tickets available. That means RIR hasn't met its goal.

"Our goal is to sell every seat in the stadium and that will always be our goal," said Vice President of Marketing Lauri Wilks.

Danny Batten told NBC12 the non-sellout crowd is a trend he's seen at the 26 races he attends each year. He drives from event to event and sets up his merchandise trailer.

"It's about half of what last year was," he said. "2004, 2005, 2006, I used to employ people. It's gone down. It puts a hamper on things. I can't employ nobody.  I have to do it all by myself."

Suddenly a bright spot has appeared. In just the past few weeks, tickets have started to sell like hot cakes. Wilks said it seems people are more conservative with their discretionary spending. And as the race gets closer they feel more comfortable using those dollars for fun.

"People are just being more selective in their buying choices," explained Wilks. "That has to do with cars, with refrigerators, with houses and then with our entertainment choices."

Also, all of the RV and camping slots actually on RIR property are sold out. That's music to Batten's ears.

"If they sell out, I've got more people who have a chance to come by and spend a dollar," he said.

Wilks expects to be out of $40 tickets before race day, but when the track will return to the complete sellout tradition, is anybody's guess.

"It's a sign of the times and, I tell you what, when you can tell me when the overall economy is going to turn around, I could probably give you a good idea of when we're going to sell out," she said.

Richmond International Raceway hasn't sold out the Saturday race since September of 2008.  Officials are expecting tickets will still be available come race day.

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