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Regatta reaches out to NASCAR fans
, Courier Sportswriter
Friday, July 05, 2013 11:00 AM
ON DISPLAY: The Miss Madison display boat was on display at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta last week for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race (above) to promote the Madison Regatta. Regatta Sponsorship Chair Scott Tebbe (below, left) talks with Raymond and Mary Krebbs of Ellettsville, Ind., about the boat and the Regatta. This year marked the first time the Regatta had a presence at the track. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
More than 200,000 people streamed through the Kentucky Speedway's gates over four days last week and a large percentage of them were greeted with a life-size Unlimited hydroplane.
Miss Madison Inc.'s display boat was on hand for this year's three NASCAR races at the speedway, letting everybody know about this weekend's Madison Regatta. It was an arrangement that Regatta Sponsorship Chair Scott Tebbe had been hoping to make for some time.
"This is a great opportunity for us and the Speedway has just been great," said Tebbe, who was on hand for all four days, helping fans learn more about the hydroplane race, the big boats and making contacts. "The response has just been fantastic. People kept stopping and taking pictures and asking questions. We couldn't have asked for more."
The display boat, which is just a shell made to look like an actual Unlimited, had a prime spot in the infield Fan Zone, just left of the start/finish line, right behind the pits and just across from the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
A group of Regatta volunteers were on hand to help answer questions that fans might have and direct them to the Regatta's website.
"People were really excited. Everybody would stop and look at the boat," Tebbe said. "It's been a great opportunity."
The marriage between the Kentucky Speedway and Madison Regatta has not always been smooth. One of the track's first races, back in 2000, was a truck series event that fell on the Saturday of Regatta Weekend.
But each of the track's Sprint Cup races over the past three years have been held on weekends that border the Regatta with the last two coming the week before.
"We've been telling people that they can make a whole week of racing," said Tebbe. "Come to the Speedway, then the next week, hop over to Madison for the Regatta.
This year, Tebbe was able to get the Madison Regatta inside the Speedway and even worked out a deal where fans buying NASCAR tickets through the Regatta got a discount.
Tebbe said that on the first day the Regatta sold the discount tickets, which came a month before the race, 24 tickets were sold, primarily on word-of-mouth and an article in The Madison Courier.
"I haven't had a chance to see the numbers since that first day but that was pretty impressive considering we had just started doing it," Tebbe said. "The Speedway will take a look at the numbers and see where we fit in. Hopefully, we can partner together more in the future."
Tebbe spent most of his weekend in Sparta working other vendors and sponsors, trying to find more things to bring to his race weekend. He said that gaining contacts was nearly as valuable as informing fans.
"I have had a chance to walk around to the other booths and show them what we have to offer," Tebbe said. "Many liked what they saw so hopefully we have a chance of bringing some of them to the Regatta."
One fan who liked what he saw was Raymond Krebbs of Ellettsville, who was no stranger to the Regatta but had never attended.
"It's one of those events I've always said that I would go to," Krebbs said. "I won't be able to go this year because we're going to Washington, D.C. for the first time, but it's something I definitely want to do next year."
PHOTOS: Regatta reaches out to NASCAR fans
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