This weekend, Phoenix Raceway will play host to three Championship races for each of NASCAR’s disciplines: Trucks, Xfinity, and Cup. More than that, though, the track is catering to fans in a way that should be obvious for all race circuits, but that generally gets pushed to the wayside.
Let me transport us back about two weeks ago. At Circuit of the Americas for the United States Grand Prix, there was literally no way to avoid the traffic jams that happened as fans flooded out of the parking lots after F1's on-track sessions ended. There are a lot of reasons why that happens — mainly the fact that COTA is built out in the middle of nowhere and is mostly only accessible by country-esque roads.
COTA has acknowledged the traffic problem and has implemented a few ways to “fix” it. It told USGP fans to take advantage of shuttles (which admittedly deposit you about a mile away from the track, meaning you’ll still have a hike once you get there). It has tried to put on concerts to delay a mass exodus. It even offered half-price food and drinks on Sunday after the race. But there’s never really been an attempt to improve the track’s surroundings or the fan’s trip to the circuit.
So, I have a lot of respect for Phoenix in its partnership with Waze this weekend, which is designed to help fans find the fastest way to and from the circuit. Yes, it’s definitely a sponsorship opportunity that Phoenix took advantage of — but it’s also something that benefits fans and helps improve the fan experience in an actual, tangible way.
Other features for this weekend, like the Oasis in the Sky — a table that gets lifted 150 feet in the air for 30 minutes at a time — aren’t necessarily as practical as navigation assistance, but it’s still the kind of unique experience that transforms a race track into a destination event. Even when you’re not watching NASCAR races, you’re still having a great experience.