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More tickets sold at Bristol races; boost in business expected

10:05 PM, Mar 15, 2013   |    comments
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It is race weekend in East Tennessee, and officials said they are expecting more people to fill the stands at Bristol Motor Speedway than last year.

Among the fans coming to "Thunder Valley," Roger and Louise Wilcox of Michigan.

"Since Tony Stewart started, when you pick a race fan, you picked (the guy who liked) Tony!" Roger enthusiastically said Friday afternoon in front of the Morristown Best Western Hotel.

That business, more than 70 miles away from the track, has seen a boost in business this weekend.

"Guessing 80-90 percent of the folks staying with us are here for the race," said manager Landree Brotherton.

While it is normal to see sales increase during race weekend, it is the additional number of people staying at the hotel that is making owners smile.

"At that point in time (last year) there was 20-25 percent vacant. Now, we're seeing about 15% vacant, and we expect to fill those up this evening," Brotherton added.

According to an article from USA Today, after years of constant steady attendance at Bristol, the dip in fans started in 2009. In 2012, it went down to 102,000 fans.

However, experts say a turn in the economy and some changes to the track helped bring in new and renewed fans to the grandstands.

"According to the US Travel Association, people are traveling, they may be staying one less day, but they're getting out again," said Lila Wilson with the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce.

All people, both with Bristol and with the nearby businesses, hope NASCAR fans enjoy their time in the Tri-Cities, and hope their pilgrimage to Thunder Valley will be an annual event.

"Great time here, you know?" Roger Wilcox smiled.

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