While understanding that many people might wonder how a guy who worked most of the last two decades at a NASCAR track in Bristol, Tenn., can possibly understand Sebring, and what kinds of things need improvements, those people fail to understand THE secret weapon.
I ALWAYS listen to fan feedback.
And more importantly, I respond to suggestions and encourage all members of our team to do the same.
Our resident historian and social media guru Ken Breslauer recently shared with me a list of suggestions that top the list of concerns among Sebring fans.
We may not be able to address everything in the next four weeks, and some may be out of reach beyond this event, but one cannot achieve any goal unless first setting it. And the Sebring team plans to establish goals prioritized by what our guests want.
First on the list of guest concerns, said Ken, is the car corrals, and the amount of prime real estate these car corrals use. I suspect many of our guests do not realize that these car corrals are opportunities to see a lot of great cars. These areas are open to the public, so if you want to see an assembly of Porsches or Corvettes, the hosts want you to stroll through and take a closer look. Car corrals have been part of road racing facilities for decades, and I believe the key to enjoying them is understanding how welcoming they can be. In any case, allocating corral space is a balancing act - but we will do our best to utilize all areas in a way that benefits all our guests.
Next, Sebring fans want better places to view the race. On my first tour, I observed the chief difference between Sebring and many tracks is the lack of elevation changes that provide great sight lines. Sebring needs at least one tall grandstand to determine whether fans will use it. Building that stand is one of our highest priorities. In the meantime, when we knocked down the two crumbling concessions stands on the Midway, we used the block to extend the viewing mound in T-3.
And speaking of those mounds, fans disapprove of those who mark territory with ropes, ribbons, blankets, folding chairs and whatever to reserve areas. On our new policy boards, we ask our fans to respect one another, including the general admission aspect of the viewing mounds and parking areas. If anyone wants to reserve any spaces, those options are available in the form of reserved parking spaces. All other areas are unreserved. All weekend. Always. It’s like a seat in a fast food restaurant. When someone is finished and leaves, the next person gets to use it. The first guy can’t hold it until he comes in for the next day’s meal.
Fans who have seen scoreboards at other facilities know the tower on the Midway is on its last legs. It’s not the bulbs that no longer work. It’s the fixtures that hold the bulbs that are antiquated. Our Director of Operations Jesse McClelland came up with an outstanding idea to use our video boards to scroll the running positions of the cars, overall and by class, on the jumbo screens. If this works as we expect, we will retire the historic scoring pylon before this year’s race, with an eye at replacing the pylon as soon as we can.
Of course our overnight guests want more showers, and we identified and addressed that in 2016. An unexpected electrical failure shut down a mobile shower in 2014; a smaller version of it replaced in 2015, but the bigger unit is back for 2016.
Other areas on our list to address include upgrading and building more restrooms outside the paddock; ensuring that all members of our team meet or preferably exceed our customer service standards; creating wider reserved parking spaces for motorhomes, and offering electricity, cable and water; and helping our guests find lodging in the area.
Our guests – whether they spend the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours Fueled by Fresh From Florida in the Paddock, Midway or Green Park – are our best eyes and ears. Our team can’t be in all places at all times, and neither can any member of our team. Yet, thousands of you are out there experiencing Sebring in myriad ways.
We want to know your experiences, because that is how we get better for you.
I welcome any and all feedback from all of our valued guests.
Remember, you are my secret weapon!