The Nashville Superspeedway (NSS), as any racing fan will know, has hosted many Indy Car Series races and numerous NASCAR Xfinity Series Races. It also hosts over a dozen NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. Dover Motorsports, Inc., parent company of the NSS, made a difficult decision to close the Superspeedway. The Superspeedway had never been chosen to host a NASCAR Cup Series Race until that point. The famous track was thus closed until recent.
It was clear that the locals felt the loss, as this was a huge draw for tourism and an economic boostfor localbusiness in general.Thensomething incredible happened.
NASCAR had held its Champions Week celebrations in Nashville in December 2019. Dover Motorsports approached NASCAR about reopening NSS due to the potential in the market. The Cup Series hadn’t raced in Nashville for nearly 40 years. Dover Motorsports was granted a multi-year sanctioning racing agreement by NASCAR. Dover Motorsports decided that it would revitalize the track and improve the fan experience in order to host the inaugural Ally 400.
They had to look at how far technology has advanced in the past decade if they wanted to restore the track to its former glory. Fans today want a hybrid experience that offers convenience, internet access and app assistance. They also want replays. They needed an expert team to get the things back on track.
Internetwork Engineering (IE) was tasked late in 2020 with revitalizing the NSS venue in preparation for the upcoming Ally 400 and Tennessee Lottery250. The raceswereset to take place on Father’s Day weekend,June18-20,2021.
As fan expectations change, the first order of business from a mobility perspective was to upgrade Wi-Fi. This would allow for flexibility to handle the large number of fans (even at the projected capacity) and open the door to future enhancements such as mobile apps and other fan-helping features on mobile devices.
Upgrading the wireless wasalso a huge priority for securely supporting staff operations and transactions.Throughout the race day, all vendors and staff needed to securely process credit card payments and operations on the wireless system.The wireless capability was IE’s main priority and task, so we’ll recounthowwe usedWi-Fi6–cutting edge wireless technology — to support the vast volume of fans in the stands.
IE was charged with a huge upgrade for the Mobility &Wi-Fiportion. Many fans comment on poor Wi-Fiservice.IE had to survey the venue to develop a plan to seamlessly support heavy traffic.
The goal was to improve the fan experience in the main seating section, which seats 25,000. This included providing high-speed internet access that could support email, texting, light file transfer, and supporting email. The event was planned during the height of the pandemic. IE was asked to design for a fan capacity of 40% per Covid guidelines. This would be approximately 10,000 fans. Shortly before the race, Covid restrictions were lifted and not only did NSS sell out the 25,000 seats,but they alsoaddedroughly 15,000additionaltemporary grandstandseats.
IE proposed aCisco Catalyst 9000 seriesnetwork of switches, wirelessLANcontrollers, and wireless access points deployed across critical areas of the property.These areas wouldincludetheticket booth, entrance gates, concourse and concessions area, grandstand seating via handrail antennas, infield patio suites, indoor tower suites,premium fan experience section,and a robust and doubled in size fan experience area with souvenir trailers and sponsor tents.Each of these areas required its own unique wireless design to accommodate specific demands.The network also supported NASCAR staff, NSS staff, infield care center, a media center for press and media personnel, and fire and safety solutions for the track and pits.Each sectionwould haveitsown unique designandbetailored to optimize fan experiencewithin that specificdesignatedarea.
The Plan Rollout
A captive portal splash page was used to sign up fans. It collected fan opt-in data via Cisco DNA Spaces to analyze property use data. This information was used to retrieve foot traffic patterns, geographic areas and email addresses of fans. This data allowed NSS sales and marketing to engage fans and improve the customer experience. All this was possible thanks to fan opt-in approval, and a willingness to respect fan privacy. To determine if additional resources are needed for next year’s race, the foot traffic flow data is being analyzed.
The End result
The network performed beyond design parameters, with all fans enjoying high-speed internet speeds of up to 100+ mbp/s even in congested areas. To allow NSS sales and marketing to engage these fans in future facility events, NSS collected over 8,000 email addresses as well as mobile phone numbers. Fans had quick internet access, which allowed them to research topics and post frequently to social networks.
Plans for next year’s event are already underway with an emphasis onfurtherenhancing the fan experiencethat could includesolutions like direct fan engagement, aligning the onboardingWi-Fiportal with the NSS mobile app, improved concessionandfo