“There were complaints because in years past when you were seated you could see when cars were riding along the high banks on the back stretch,” says Heidi Sosa of Cincinnati. “But because of the way the deck had been built for FanZone and [the 500 Club], you can’t see the other side of the track any more. The view is obstructed. We did have a big TV screen in its place where we could see the other side, but it wasn’t the same.”
If the 500 Club is too pricey, the Daytona Club has been a fixture at the track for years. This large, tent-covered area provides food, drink and entertainment to fans for $1,950 for the six days of Speed Week. For many, it seems more like a college reunion than a gathering of hard-core racing fans.
“What it becomes is an enormous family of people who see each other every year,” Mr. Guthrie says. “That’s what really drives it: It provides a place for people with like interests to get together and say ‘hello,’ get caught up on what happened since last year.”
Tops in Texas
The best seats at the Texas Motor Speedway come with a kitchen, a bedroom or two and a chandelier.
The condominiums in LoneStar Tower are perched high above Turn 2 of the racetrack. Each of the 76 units features either a balcony or stadium seats placed in front of a cantilevered glass wall in the living room, allowing residents to watch races.
The building has a Texas-sized — and shaped — pool and a clubhouse. Across the street is a golf course. And a golf cart ride away is a helicopter landing pad that residents use to speed to their weekend homes.
The views of the track from the condos are spectacular, but they aren’t cheap: Prices for the units range from $325,000 to $1.1 million. And, as with the luxury suites, the condos frequently are not busy. Some units are occupied year-round by residents, but others only during the few times each season when events are held at the track.
The setup is similar at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Tara Place has 46 two- and three-bedroom condos that offer views of the track.
The penthouse apartment’s spiral staircase leads to the roof, where a bar and captain’s chairs provide a comfortable and panoramic view of the 1.5-mile racing oval.
For officials at NASCAR’s tracks, these upscale developments are new ways of competing for dollars.
“You can’t relax in this business. As soon as you do, you’re in danger of being passed,” Mr. Guthrie says. “We just have to be the best at what we do. I think the trend is, people want to be as comfortable as possible.”
Big welcome mat