Clubs, escalators, high-end fan experiences highlight PIR renovations

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A steel beam was installed at Phoenix International Raceway that is part of a new entryway. (Source: Phoenix International Raceway) A steel beam was installed at Phoenix International Raceway that is part of a new entryway. (Source: Phoenix International Raceway)

By Jose Esparza, Cronkite News

PHOENIX (CRONKITE) — A peek at the latest stage of Phoenix International Raceway’s $178 million pit stop hinted at a high-end new look for those who will enter the track in the future.

On Wednesday, the Avondale track installed a steel beam signed by fans and participants who attended an IndyCar Series Phoenix Grand Prix earlier this year. The beam will be part of one of two “canyon” entryways that will include escalators to take guests to the grandstand concourse and elevators to the 51 suites.

“This is an opportunity for us to modernize the venue and create a fan experience that is consistent with today’s expectations,” said Scott Rovn, the vice president of sales and marketing, “while maintaining that connection with the past and the memories and the legacies that were contained here at Phoenix Raceway.”

[RELATED: Phoenix Raceway lifts veil on huge race track redevelopment]

The track’s renovation project will include new grandstands and stadium-style seats. Turns will be renumbered and pits relocated. A Fan Zone will place spectators in the garages where they can watch drivers and crews up close.

The start and finish line will be flipped and a new fan hospitality club will be among the new features. “The Curve” is an all-inclusive club that will offer an aerial perspective of the track above Turn One.

The goal is for the project to be finished in time for the 2018 NASCAR weekend in November.

Some fans might see their signatures.

“I think it’s a pretty unique opportunity for the fans to have been involved in our project,” Rovn said. “If you imagine when we open that canyon and as a race fan you enter that canyon for the first time and you were one of those that were at the Indy event and you signed that beam.”

Maintaining a strong relationship with racing fans is a priority for the track.

“(It’s) a chance for the fans to connect with the project and literally and figuratively put their name on the project,” Rovn said.

The track was constructed in 1964 and it is one of the longest running major racetracks in the Southwest. The plan to improve the track was not a swift strategic move for Phoenix International Raceway.

“I know a lot of people like to think of it as an overnight success story,” Rovn said. “That’s not the case at all. This project that has been 10 or 11 years in the making.”

With the changes being made, the track’s goal was to revamp the modern race experience, from more comfortable seating to allowing technology to play a significant role.

“We are going to bring them closer to the action,” Rovn said. “We are going to bring them closer to their heroes. They are going to have a greater connection with the athletes and personalities of the sport.“

PIR hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, one in March and another in November, as well as the IndyCar series races in April.

“The whole purpose of the project for us was to create the best fan experience that we can,” Rovn said.

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