Many race fans not only like to camp for the weekend festivities, but they also enjoy bringing along their canine companions. This week’s NASCAR Behind the Scenes takes a look at what Pocono Raceway is doing to make those four-legged fans feel right at home at the track.
“We got a mission from the top when Brandon (Igdalsky, President and CEO of Pocono Raceway) said that we needed to think of some ways to continue to bring added value to our race fans,” Ben May, Chief Marketing Officer, said. “So, we came up with the unique idea of creating a Bark Park, a special area where dogs can play while their owners meet and socialize.”
“We really wanted to attract people that maybe would not come to the race and dogs came to our mind. We knew that race fans couldn’t come to Pocono Raceway for three days and leave their dogs home alone.”
May acknowledged that while Pocono has allowed dogs in the infield in the campsite area for the past few years, there is a leash rule that they have to obey. The rules are that the dogs have to be on a leash or a runner and so cannot run freely.
The Bark Park will address the problem of the leash and will be that newly created spot where dogs can run, play and meet other dogs in a safe place throughout the race weekend.
“We already allowed dogs here so this was a natural progression for our love for dogs,” May said. “The Bark Park is like the dog park in your town or in your neighborhood. So, it’s a chance to let your dogs off the leash, stretch their legs and to, of course, have an added thing to do at the infield while you are here at the track.”
The Bark Park will be located in the infield at Pocono Raceway, near the Infield Fan Center on Earnhardt Road. It will be provided free of charge and open to all fans who have secured an infield campsite. The facility is 100 feet by 100 feet and features a secure gate, obstacles, and size-appropriate exercise areas.
“Our goal is to have it be just like your dog park at home,” May said. “There will be obstacles there for the dogs, picnic tables for their owners, and places to hang out and talk about racing, dogs or life in general.”
May anticipates that the Bark Park will be one new place where race fans can go to socialize with other race fans who love their dogs.
“We found over the years that we have a ton of campers that have come here to Pocono Raceway and they always like to be next to the same people that they met ten years ago,” May said. “So, I think the Bark Park is just this added layer to the bonding and those relationships that the race fans have built amongst themselves.”
When fans come to Pocono Raceway in June for the first race weekend, the track will be christening the new Bark Park. And fans who come out for that event may just see some of their favorite drivers’ pooches come to play and romp in the new area.
“We are going to do a grand opening in June and we will definitely extend an invitation to some of the drivers, team owners and the folks in the motor coach lot,” May said. “They all have a ton of dogs so we hope they will come to the Bark Park and let them stretch their legs a little bit as well.”
There are two other events that will celebrate Pocono Raceway going to the dogs, one a ‘Best in Show’ contest and the other a chance to win a dog house, complete with a porch, and a $200 gift card for dog food.
To enter the ‘Best in Show’ contest, fans who have an infield camping spot can buy a limited edition Pocono Raceway dog tag. This tag will be the entry ticket into the contest, where dogs will compete for ‘Best in Show’ prizes. The winning dog will be announced during the infield Block Party on Saturday night of the Pocono race weekend.
The special dog tag will also grant additional access to the Bark Park for extra hours over and above what the public will receive.
For more information about the dog tags, camping spots or to purchase tickets, fans can call 1-800-RACEWAY or visit www.poconoraceway.com.
Fans can also register to win the dog house and the dog food gift card by visiting www.poconoraceway.com/barkpark. The deadline to enter for this contest is July 31st.
“When we launch products or new initiatives, we like to have several layers and make it fun,” May said. “And so far we are having a lot of fun planning this Bark Park for our race fans.”