April race in 2014 moving to Sunday
The saying goes that everything is bigger in Texas. At Texas Motor Speedway that's big-gest.
The track announced Monday that it will be adding the world's largest video screen – boasting a 218-feet wide and 94.6-feet tall High Definition (HD) display – and that the high tech Panasonic addition of what’s being touted as "Big Hoss" will be in place in time for the track's new spring date in 2014.
The 1.5-mile oval’s annual April night race will move from a Saturday night to Sunday afternoon – April 6 – in 2014 to better position the speedway in a high wattage Dallas-Fort Worth sports week that also includes the NCAA Men's Final Four basketball championship. Speedway officials have requested the race move back to a Saturday night in 2015.
The annual fall NASCAR tripleheader – also including the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series – will be held from October 31 to November 2, 2014. The AAA Texas 500 will again be the eighth event in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.
In a market that already boasts the latest and greatest in sports stadiums – such as the Dallas Cowboys' new super venue in nearby Arlington --Texas Motor Speedway will be able to call its 20,633.64-square foot screen (nearly half an acre) the biggest in the world.
It will be over 9,000 square feet larger than the Cowboys’ screen and over 4,600 square-feet bigger than sister facility, Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"This continues to show our company's commitment to our great race fans and our efforts to remain at the forefront of our industry,’" said Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith. "(Texas Motor Speedway President) Eddie (Gossage) always tells me everything is bigger in Texas, so I wanted to make this video board fit his motto."
To put the size in perspective, another Texas landmark, The Alamo, would fit inside the screen area nine times over. And its nearly 4.8 million pixel display will show 281 trillion different colors.
"A couple weeks ago I read a great story about what sports stadiums all across the country are doing as our society changes," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said Monday. "Big screen televisions at home are affordable so you're competing with the couch potato and you need to get them off the couch. To do that you need to give them the opportunity to see the race, the replays, the pit stops, the dramatic moments of the race over and over from different angles just like they get at home.
"You can't out big-screen us now, at home or anywhere else.’’
"The thing I like best," Gossage added, "is it’s just another one of those things we’re doing for the fans.
"I'm really proud our company's approach is take care of the fans first and everything else will fall in place.’"
It was a similar approach for Gossage when it came to modifying the track’s April race weekend. Instead of competing head-to-head with the Final Four only a few miles away, it made more sense to change the race date and capitalize on the big sports picture.
"We looked at it as we know there’s a lot of basketball fans in NASCAR and we also know a lot of NASCAR fans will be attending the Final Four," Gossage said.
"It's making the best of the situation and it could turn out to be a great situation for us."
Gossage said he's already been contacted by more than a half dozen corporations interested in renting out the facility during that week, many of them companies that held events at the speedway during the Super Bowl in 2011.
"We have a marketing plan put together that we are prepared when the teams are set the weekend before and will advertise in their markets," Gossage said.
"I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for NASCAR fans and also for the Final Four fans, who can get a ticket for the race.
"You always hate to have competition but this is our race weekend and always has been so we’re moving it around to make it work.’"
And that’s not to say that Gossage doesn’t still remain committed to convincing NASCAR to rearrange other race dates in the future. It's no secret that Gossage has long wanted his speedway to host the Sprint Cup Series finale and when word of a major announcement began to spread over the weekend, some thought that was going to be the big news.
Gossage didn't back off that ultimate quest this week, although he acknowledged next year's fall date was still favorable.
"We’d rather be the finale and feel like it would behoove NASCAR if they did finish the season in the most successful major market speedway ever,’" Gossage said, not missing a chance to make his case.
"It would be good for the sport and we continue to lobby for that. But with that being said, being number eight is a pretty good position because you still typically have a number of folks still in the hunt and it usually ends up being the race that really separates the contenders from the pretenders, at least historically."