Phoenix Raceway

Phoenix Raceway is off to the races Friday through Sunday, with the LS Tractor 200 on Saturday and the Fanshield 500 on Sunday. 

Julie Giese, the president of Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, spoke about the latest updates of the track at a Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce breakfast event last week.

The Avondale track has a big weekend coming, part of a huge year.

Phoenix Raceway, which recently changed its name from ISM Raceway, will hold spring race events Friday through Sunday, March 6-8, with the LS Tractor 200 on Saturday and the Fanshield 500 on Sunday as the marquee event. But, Phoenix Raceway also added the ARCA Menards Series General Tire 150 Thursday to placate some of the speed lovers’ desire for more races.

“Historically it was a Saturday and Sunday weekend with practice on Friday. Our fans asked for more content so we added (it),” Giese said.

Phoenix Raceway recently underwent a $178 million renovation.

NASCAR selected the Phoenix Raceway to hold its championship weekend in November with four races, including the NASCAR Cup Series Championship race to crown the sport’s best driver on Nov. 8.

Giese said earning the November weekend of races in Avondale is one of the most exciting things she has been a part of in her career.

“I still get goosebumps thinking about it. We’re incredibly proud of the fact we get to crown four champions on that weekend. It’s the first time in 18 years NASCAR moved that championship,” Giese said.

Besides the economic impact on the local community – NASCAR does not release official attendance numbers, but Giese estimated it was over 100,000 tickets sold and people enjoying the local businesses each weekend – the championship serves to create added interest in the sport.

Her presentation stated just 40 percent of fans at a typical Avondale NASCAR event are under age 44. With the impact and name recognition of a championship race added to the fan experience, she hopes the November races will change this and make life-long customers for events down the road.

“You hear championship, and people who might not be familiar with NASCAR might be interested or want to be part of it, so we’re hoping we see even younger of a demographic because it’s a championship weekend,” she said.

While there is a lot of work to do in hosting a well-run March weekend of competitions and getting the track prepared for the biggest racing event of the year, Giese and the Phoenix Raceway staff are looking forward to selling tickets and seeing what Arizona has to offer NASCAR in a unique opportunity.

“It’s my job to make it incredibly difficult for them to want to move the race,” she said.

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