Lady in Black increases efforts to attract college students for race day
By Mandy Noell| April 10, 2014 at 4:08 PM EST - Updated July 11 at 2:50 PM
DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - NASCAR has put pressure on racetracks to appeal to a new crop of younger fans, and Darlington Raceway responded in a big way this year.
NASCAR needs young fans to keep coming back each year to keep the sport alive.
Folks over at the "Lady in Black" say the number of college students buying tickets has grown substantially. Last year that number doubled, and they expect it to double again this year.
That is no coincidence. The track has made strategic moves this year to attract more college students, including moving the race from May to April.
Dennis Worden is the director of Public Relations for the Raceway. He says the date change was a better way to market to college students. In May, students are busy with finals and graduation, but they're free in April.
This year there is even a college tailgate zone for the big race on Saturday. The track has seen a big increase in students from Coker College, Francis Marion University, and especially the University of South Carolina - thanks in part to some unique strategies.
Worden says students in a sports management class at USC had a project. They were assigned a certain number of tickets to the Bojangles' Southern 500 to sell to other students. He says the students really stepped up and sold a lot of tickets.
The final number of college students and fans at the race won't be announced until after the race.