Stories Of People Who Make A Living In Motorsports
BY ED CLARK
Ed Clark is president and general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Fast Fact: Clark is a frequent competitor in the thunder roadster division during Legends car events at AMS.
Imagine what it would be like to throw a colossal three-day party for 100,000 or more of your closest friends.
Like our friends operating other speedways around the nation, our staff at Atlanta Motor Speedway anticipates each NASCAR Nextel Cup race weekend with the enthusiasm of a child awaiting Christmas morning. But, before we reach that magical moment when the event Grand Marshal says “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines,” there is plenty of preparation.
While NASCAR runs the on-track activities, our speedway staff handles all the other details that are important to making the event run smoothly. One of my mentors, H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, summed it up well saying we are in the business of the three Ts — tickets, traffic and toilets. While that is a bit of a general statement, it is certainly not far off the mark.
As President and General Manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway, I have told those willing to listen that twice a year I hold the position of AMS city manager.
When you analyze all that goes on in a race weekend, you will see what I mean. In my 30 years in the business I’ve seen most things major cities have to deal with occur at the speedways where I have worked.
We have had every type of medical emergency, including the birth of babies. Water, sewer and electric problems have cropped up. Provisions for handling security and law enforcement as well as air, vehicular and foot traffic must be made.
And don’t forget food service and garbage handling.
We have an amazing full-time staff of 57 hard working and dedicated individuals who strive daily to reach our mission statement which is “To Provide a Winning Experience for Every Customer Every Time.”
As diligent as their efforts are, we estimate that it takes in the neighborhood of 5,000 people to provide the necessary services to produce an event like this week’s Pep Boys Auto 500 weekend. They all work with the common goal of quietly and efficiently getting their jobs done while our paying customers enjoy their AMS visit to the max.
And speaking of providing an entertaining and enjoyable experience, all of us at Atlanta Motor Speedway follow the lead of our boss, Bruton Smith, in putting the fans first. Bruton’s commitment to providing great facilities and amenities for our fans is second to none and his leadership inspires our entire staff to go the extra mile to provide our customers with great entertainment memories.
We have tremendously increased the number of camping spaces to meet the demands of our ever-growing number of campers. A number of these spaces have water, electric and sewer hook-ups. We created the Mid-State RV Center Family Campground, which has been extremely popular. And, we have added the Turn One and Trackside Terrace camping areas, which allow fans to spend the entire race weekend with their friends camping trackside with an unbelievable view of all the racing action.
Another great addition is Club One, an upscale public suite area like none seen on the NASCAR Nextel Cup tour. Fans enjoy great food and beverage, pre-race pit access and a rooftop observation deck in a luxurious environment with its own reserved parking lot featuring shuttle service to the front door.
More and better fan shuttles, lots of new sidewalks, the Nationwide Fan Assistance Patrol, increased handicapped parking, more ushers and the development of a dedicated customer service department are other additions that have come about as a result of requests from our customers.
We have even tackled race-day traffic issues head-on with a radical new traffic plan that has seen us have all roads exiting the speedway clear in less than two hours for our last two events.
I invite fans that haven’t attended an event at Atlanta Motor Speedway in recent years to come enjoy one of our spring and fall weekends. The two and three-wide racing is great and you may just get to see what Darrell Waltrip calls “another one of those Atlanta finishes” we have all come to expect.
And I will promise that the AMS city manager and our entire staff, while enjoying the weekend as much as any fan in attendance, will go out of our way to make you feel welcome.
(Original Print Date: October 24, 2007)