It is not cheap being a NASCAR fan. Race tickets, driver memorabilia (especially if your driver changes teams), transportation, hotels etc can all add to the cost of being a fan if you go to a race. This is not to say it is not possible to be a fan without going to races- but I don’t think any fan will argue with me that going to a track doesn’t enhance the experience of fandom by about a hundred gazillion times. Case in point: for the race in Las Vegas in February/March- our tickets alone were $450 and yes that is per person. Granted we did get weekend passes and we got them for the Richard Petty Terrace (those terrace seats? They kick ass- great view!) and we splurged and got one day in the Neon Garage (only one day- Friday- which is the cheapest of the three days). And we sprung for preferred parking (probably won’t do that again- it wasn’t really that big of a savings and their signage on how to get there sucked and we ended up driving around in a big circle and we had even been to the speedway before so…not worth it really).
So I thought to myself, is possible to go to a race without dropping $500 (per person) or more for the entire weekend? I found out that the answer is: Yes! I just did it myself. If you read with any regularity you probably know that my friend and I decided, kind of last minute (or it was last minute to us- the obessive trip planners) to make a dash to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) last month to watch the Subway Fresh Fit 500K live and in person.
Part of the reasoning for that quick trip? It had to do with the fact that we found out that some of the tickets at Phoenix were down to $25 dollars each (yes I am that Amy, in the stands in her Tony Stewart gear). Granted these tickets were in the first 8 or so rows- but we were told by someone who had been to Phoenix that you would pretty much have a good view no matter where you sat- so no need to spring for the expensive tickets. I will be the first to admit I was a little unsure sitting as far down as we were sitting (in the AJ Foyt Grandstands in row 8- which because of the stairs was really more like row 4) but I am telling you that we had awesome seats. Our whole experience at PIR was awesome really. The trick here- as I mentioned before is waiting as long as possible to buy your tickets. We waited until a month before. You want to wait long enough that some of the better tickets are lowered- but not so long that they might be sold out.
Next comes the hotel- because it was Phoenix and it was about 800 miles one way for me (and 300+ for my friend in vegas) we defintely needed a hotel. We decided to use hotwire.com to book our room. We have never used it before- frankly the idea of not knowing exactly which hotel I am staying at BEFORE I PAY scared me so I have never used it before. But I decided to bite the bullet and try it. We found an awesome hotel at the airport for $50 a nite. It saved us over 40%! It was a major chain and the hotel was extremely nice!
Those are my two major tricks. Here is how the weekend broke down monetarily (and I rounded up and this would be for me- who lived farther from the track):
Hotel: 50 (per night- there were two of us and we stayed two nights so that’s 50 per person)
Trip Insurance: $4 per person
Gas: 150.00 (rounded up- based on driving 1700 miles round trip in a car getting 25 mpg with gas being 2.20 a gallon- my trip through three states had gas being anywhere from 2.35 to 1.89)
Track food: 10.00
Track drink: 20.00 (and yes I took in a beverage- but I didn’t want to get dehydrated- it was the desert)
Merchandise: 65 (I bought two hats and a plastic backpack)
Food (travel food off track): 75.00
Splurge of the trip (pit passes): 50.00
For a total of $449.00 a person for the entire race weekend trip. About the same price I paid for just my race tickets for the Vegas race. So not exactly CHEAP but there are a lot of things you could pare down from my list…if you didn’t splurge on the pit pass that knocks 50 bucks off right there.