Page 1

GRILLS & GEAR - FOOD & DRINK - FANS & THRILLS

Spring 2018

CORNHOLE GOES BIG TIME ALL-AMERICAN

BURGER TRIFECTA

GET POPPING WITH K POP!

GET READY

TALLADEGA...

THE COMPOUND www.insidetailgating.com


ON THE COVER

20 Talladega Superspeedway

In the Cornhole Zone

W

hen you hear the phrase “in the zone,” you immediately relate it to sports, don’t you? I bet many of you have a vivid memory of a star athlete from your favorite team going “in the zone” and just thinking about the performance gets you jacked up all over again. If I went through all my favorite “in the zone” performances by N.C. State athletes, this would be a novel and not an editor letter. I believe non-athletes can be “in the zone” too, and the Urban Dictionary backs me up on that: Being in the zone implies increased focus and attention which allow for higher levels of performance. Athletes, musicians, and anybody that totally owns a challenge of physical and mental performance can be in the zone. As Commissioner of the American Cornhole League, I have been ‘in the cornhole zone” for the past six months. I see this sport taking off with such clarity, and my focus on making it happen makes my friends and family think I am borderline insane. I am honored to plead my case in this issue when I share some of the details in Carroll Walton’s story. I am still waiting for my cornhole game to get good enough so I can find the cornhole zone as a player. Until then, I will just enjoy watching our ACL professionals enter the cornhole zone. Make sure to see it fpr yourself by catching us on ESPN2.

GRILLS & GEAR

5 Pugs Eyewear For Every Occasion 9 6 Bleacher Creatures Everyone Needs a Tailgating Buddy

FOOD & DRINK

5

9 Time to Get Popping A Korean Chile Sauce Story 12 All-American Burger Trifecta

FANS & THRILLS 15 Cornhole Bag Tossing Hits the Big Time

12

6

15

Stacey “Lil Big” Moore Editor and Publisher @LilBig02

INSIDE TAILGATING IS PRODUCED BY TAILGATING VENTURES, LLC:

FOR MARKETING AND ADVERTISING INQUIRIES, CONTACT:

DESIGN & PRODUCTION BY Fiddlehead Studio & Press:

W. STACEY MOORE III: Managing Director smoore@insidetailgating.com 704-595-7603

W. STACEY MOORE III: Managing Director smoore@insidetailgating.com

JOANNA BUONO: Art Director joannambuono@gmail.com

CARROLL ROGERS WALTON: Content Director carroll@insidetailgating.com

MICHAEL KEAN: Business Development michael@insidetailgating.com RYAN ALESSIO: Chief Tailgator ryan@insidetailgating.com

For information about distribution, newsstand sales or investment and franchise opportunities, please contact Stacey Moore at smoore@insidetailgating.com. Inside Tailgating Volume 6, Issue 13, Spring 2018, Copyright© 2018 by Tailgating Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. Inside Tailgating™ is the trademark of Tailgating Ventures, LLC. Printed in the United States of America.

Check out more at www.insidetailgating.com

3


Grills&Gear

PUGS

by Michael Reed Kean (Twitter: @michaelreedkean)

EYEWEAR FOR EVERY OCCASION

O

ur travels take us all around the country to sporting events, tailgating gigs, and other tailgating-related events. On our last journey to Kissimmee, Florida we came across some interesting eyewear. They looked like swimming goggles, but in actuality they were PUGS goggles. PUGS makes all kinds of very affordable sunglasses, safety/motorcycle goggles, hats, work gloves, and other assorted outdoor adventure gear. All of these items would be useful for tailgating and getting together with friends at your next BBQ and or homegate party.

PUGS gear is super affordable and their products look spectacular. The next time you see me I will undoubtedly be wearing some PUGS safety goggles and maybe even one of their cowboy hats, looking like an extra from Fury Road. These goggles would be excellent for boaters and watermen, hang gliders, and wind and kite surfers. They work very well for outdoor activities like cutting the grass, working around the wood chipper/splitter, taking a ride on your Harley-Davidson, or maybe if you are in the tree removal business

and tired of getting poked in the eye by random tree branches. The useful possibilities for these cool safety goggles are limitless. PUGS offers polarized sunglasses in a variety of sporty and functional styles. Honestly, there is something for everyone to enjoy with their outdoor gear offerings. They even have bandanas and earmuffs!! Go figure. You can visit the PUGS website for sunglasses and outdoor gear or stop by one of their many business affiliate’s stores to check out these

amazing products. You can find them at many different national convenience stores, large hardware stores, and as we found out, some large recreational vehicle stores as well. www.pugsgear.com

Check out more Grills & Gear at www.insidetailgating.com

5


GRILLS&GEAR

by Michael Reed Kean (Twitter: @michaelreedkean)

BLEACHER CREATURES EVERYONE NEEDS A TAILGATING BUDDY

B

leacher Creatures are your newest tailgating buddies, and they are ready to party! They are plush little 10-inch likenesses of your favorite athletes in the NHL, NBA, international soccer and WWE, as well as movie icons, presidential dudes, and team mascots. Bleacher Creatures started just outside Philadelphia, PA. So naturally a variety of Philly’s Broad Street bullies (a.k.a. Philly Flyers) abound in their collection. They also feature some of the young and talented Philadelphia 76ers, like Joel Embiid, in their creature catalogue. We think everyone should collect their team mascots. They are the most adorable and interesting characters in the Bleacher Creatures’ lineup. Charlotte’s “Hugo the Hornet” would make a great tailgating buddy; he has always been a personal favorite. He can catch a buzz with the best of them. Next I would go for

[

the Cleveland Cavalier combo of Kevin Love (available soon) and his pal Moondog, the Cavaliers’ mascot, just in time for the NBA Finals this Spring! If you are missing his Shaqfuciousness, Shaquille O’neal, as much as this guy or the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant, a selection of NBA Legends are all here ready for some playing time. Put them in. Coach! More tailgating buddies are on the horizon too. There’s change afoot with the Bleacher Creatures creators; the company was recently purchased by Uncanny Brands, best known for

[

Just remember, as the company slogan says —it’s not a doll!

6

their pop culture small appliances. Uncanny Brands, formerly known as Pangea Brands, brought us items like logoed toasters that emblazon your team logo on toast and other novelty products you might see in team stores or comic conventions. If you are in the market for a Darth Vader/ Stormtrooper panini press uncannybrands.com has you covered.

Check out more Grills & Gear at www.insidetailgating.com


GRILLS&GEAR

They’re launching likenesses for the French and Spanish national football (soccer) teams. European fans seem just rabid enough to make these little toy characters “stand on their own” once again. Maybe before it’s all said and done Bleacher

Creatures will create likenesses for the U.S. men’s and women’s national soccer teams if and when they qualify for the World Cup again... hint hint, wink wink. Wouldn’t that create a spark? We’d like to see some U.S. World Cup Legends too.

Who wouldn’t want a 10-inch likeness of Alexi Lalas @AlexiLalas? Check out the full selection at www.bleachercreatures.com

Check out more Grills & Gear at www.insidetailgating.com

7


The body of a tailgater requires special nourishment.

Food&Drink

by Michael Reed Kean (Twitter: @michaelreedkean)

TIME TO GET

POPPING

K

A Korean Chile Sauce Story...

POP! Sauce is an incredible tasting Korean chili sauce that you can add to just about anything to give it an extra flavorful K POP! The main ingredient in this remarkably tangy and flavorful Korean chili pepper paste-based sauce is called gochujang, which makes it both sweet and spicy. You can use this versatile sauce in a variety of ways. Use it as a marinade, for dipping, and glazing, You can use it as a veggie dip or as salad dressing. K POP! goes great on tacos, burritos, burgers, pizza, hot dogs, eggs, chicken, beef, fish, sashimi, and sushi rolls. Not everyone thinks of seafood when they think about tailgating. I can tell you that some of the best tailgates I have taken part in involved roasting oysters, steaming shrimp, and grilling fresh fish. Adding K POP! Sauce to any of those is a match made in tailgate heaven!! You could substitute K POP! for cocktail sauce on raw oysters so easily. Try it and you won’t be disappointed. My personal favorite tailgating meat,

however, is pork. In my mind, you just can’t tailgate without sausage, pork shoulder, pulled pork, whole hog or hot dog—something from the pork family. Well, you can get some of this amazing chili sauce and go to town!! K POP! offers some great recipes on their website. You can also find out a little about how Mike & Theo Kim created K POP Foods, their emphasis on the importance of friends and family, and

sharing the experience of enjoying great tasting food. It’s time to get popping with K POP! Sauce so you too can make meals with family and friends both flavorful and memorable. www.kpopfoods.com

Food & Drink at www.insidetailgating.com

9


FOOD&DRINK

SPICY HONEY BUTTER SHRIMP Recipe created by JPM Cuisine. Follow on IG and YouTube for more delicious treats! 1/4 cup KPOP Sauce (more if you want to kick up the heat)

• In a skillet on medium heat—add the olive oil and the butter and just melt the butter, do not brown it. Once melted add the thin sliced garlic and stir. You want to flavor the butter with garlic but not brown it.

1/4 cup honey

• Season the shrimp with all of the Old Bay and add to the skillet.

1 lb. of raw, peeled, deveined shrimp (XL - 26-30)

• Squeeze the 1/2 lemon juice to the shrimp and stir. Cook for about two minutes constantly stirring until the shrimp starts to turn orange.

Yield: 4 servings

1/2 large lemon 1 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning 2 tablespoons butter 1 clove garlic (finely sliced) 2 green onions (separate the green stalks from the white and cut the white parts thinly on a bias for garnish) 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

10

Instructions

• Add in the sesame oil, honey, and KPOP Sauce and coat everything by stirring continuously. • Cook for another two minutes while stirring and then add in the green onion stalks (the green part cut into 3 inch pieces). Cook for another two to three minutes until the shrimp is done and then remove from the skillet. • For plating, remove the shrimp and green onions first and then pour the sauce over everything. Garnish with the green onion (white part) and toasted sesame seeds and serve hot.

Check out more Food & Drink at www.insidetailgating.com


FOOD&DRINK

by Carroll Rogers Walton (Twitter: @CarrollRogers)

All-American

BURGER

TRIFECTA N

othing says spring and summer tailgates in the U.S.A. like a burger. Whether you’re grilling at the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day or sipping on a cold beverage before a baseball game July 4, hamburgers are an All-American staple. To help you serve up something extra delicious at those spring and summertime events, we’ve compiled three recipes for tasty burgers, each with a nod to a different part of the country.

Tennessee Burger with Bourbon and Barbecue We head south now for a classic burger recipe from the Volunteer state. How can you go wrong with the three Bs—bourbon, barbecue and bacon? This recipe from CookingLight.com offers us a healthier take on it. 3 bacon slices 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil 3 cups vertically sliced red onion 5 tablespoons bourbon, divided 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided 1/2 cup lower-sodium ketchup 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons honey 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 1 1/2 pounds 90% lean ground sirloin Cooking spray 6 (1 1/2 oz.) French bread hamburger buns 6 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato, dill pickle, red onion and lettuce greens

12

Instructions

• Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add oil and onion to drippings in pan; cook 15 minutes or until onion is browned and very tender, stirring occasionally. Add 3 tablespoons bourbon, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring constantly. Remove mixture from pan. Cool 5 minutes. • Combine remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon, ketchup, and next 7 ingredients (through onion powder) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. • Preheat grill to medium-high heat. • Coarsely chop 3/4 cup onion mixture; stir into beef. Divide beef mixture into 6 equal portions, gently shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in center of each patty. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. • Spread each top and bottom bun half with 1 tablespoon sauce. Place patties on bottom halves; top each patty with 1 tomato slice, a pickle slice, raw onion and lettuce greens. Divide remaining onion mixture evenly among servings. Top each serving with 1/2 bacon slice and top half of bun.

Check out more Food & Drink at www.insidetailgating.com


Texas Tailgate Burger A burger with barbecue potato chips in it? Count us in! The football fan in Texas who concocted this deliciousness knows tailgating and it shows up in this one-of-a-kind burger recipe from Food52. 2 pounds ground chuck 1 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (either use your favorite, or use my recipe at the end of instructions) 2 cups shredded smoked sharp cheddar cheese 1/2 cup diced sweet onion (I use Texas 1015, naturally) 6 onion hamburger buns barbecue-flavored potato chips (kettle style is best) sliced dill pickles Chopped iceberg lettuce (we are going for crunch, not vitamins, here!)

Instructions

• Heat your grill to mediumhigh. Brush the grill with oil to prevent sticking. • To make the patties, combine the chuck, jalapeños, salt, pepper, and chili powder in a large bowl, handling it as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties to fit the bun size. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside. • Note: Here’s how I form my patties. Grab a softball-sized handful of meat and gently form it into a ball. Then, I sort of do a back and forth hand-to-hand motion for a few tosses (kind of like how you’d make a tortilla by hand), then I pat-pat-pat the meat into a flat disc while corralling the edges with my thumb to keep them smooth and uniform. Finally, make a small thumb-sized indentation in the middle of the patty. That way you get a nice patty without over-handling the meat. That is, if you don’t drop it. • Prepare the barbecue cheese: Mix the barbecue sauce, cheese, and onions and set it aside. Do not refrigerate (you will be using it shortly and you don’t want it to be really cold). • Place the patties on the grill rack and cook, turning once, until they’re cooked to your preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. In the last 3 minutes of grilling, carefully place equal amounts of the barbecue cheese on each patty. During the last 2 minutes of grilling, place the buns cut side-down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. • To assemble the burgers, place an equal layer of barbecue kettle chips on each bottom bun. Add a cheese-covered patty on top, followed by a layer of pickles and an equal amount of lettuce. Add the bun tops and serve with an ice-cold beer or a big ol’ pitcher of tea. • If you are so inclined, here’s my BBQ sauce recipe. Simply mix all of the ingredients together: 1/2 cup ketchup; 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard; 2 to 3 dashes hot sauce (Louisiana style or Tabasco); 4 to 5 drops liquid smoke; 1 tablespoon; chili powder; 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce; 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses.

Eagles Tailgating Burger 2 lbs. ground beef 1/4 cup garlic and herb seasoned dry bread crumbs 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese 1/4 cup barbeque sauce 1/4 cup Yuengling(R) lager beer 1 egg 1/2 cup chopped green onion 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons minced garlic Salt and pepper to taste

We toast the Super Bowl Champion Eagles and all things Philadelphia with this burger from www.allrecipes.com. Creator Marlena C writes: “Being an enthusiastic Philadelphia Eagles football fan, I wanted to create a burger recipe that had a taste of Philly, and some green ingredients, as a tribute to the Birds. If you like cheeseburgers, melt your favorite cheese, and eat! We love to load ours onto potato rolls and add lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles. As my sister says, ‘Don’t forget the bacon!’”

Instructions

• Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. • Combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, Romano cheese, barbeque sauce, beer, egg, green onion, basil, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix lightly using your hands, then form into 8 patties. • Lightly brush the grill grate with oil and place patties on the grill. Cook until no longer pink in the center, 7 to 8 minutes per side for well done.

Check out more Food & Drink at www.insidetailgating.com

13


Fans&Thrills

by Carroll Rogers Walton (Twitter: @CarrollRogers)

CORNHOLE C Bag Tossing Hits the Big Time

ornhole is not just for tailgating anymore. Have you noticed? ESPN has. The bag-throwing craze has hit the bigtime and our own Stacey Moore, who also happens to be the founder and publisher of Inside Tailgating, is right in the epicenter of it. Moore, 47, of Charlotte, N.C., is commissioner of the American Cornhole League, which has attracted some of the top cornhole players in the country as well as the attention of “The Worldwide Leader in Sports.�

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com

15


FANS&THRILLS When Moore started the ACL two years ago, he convinced the network to live stream their tournaments on ESPN3, making the events available on computers at watch parties and players’ local bars around the country. Then last July, during what is typically a slow time on the sports calendar, the network took a chance and put the “ACL Championship of Bags” on a live national broadcast on ESPN2. That meant viewers from coast to coast got to know Jordan Langworthy, a 22-year-old cattle farmhand from Crab Orchard, Ky., a town of 800 people. He came up through the losers bracket, winning 10 games in a row to get to the final where he faced off against the favorite, Matt Guy. All Langworthy needed to do to pull off the upset was land a bag on the board, and he threw one off the back on the board. But on his next shot, he gathered himself and put the bag in the hole. Then he celebrated with a series of fist-pumps and high fives and walked off with $4,000 of the more than $50,000 tournament prize pool. Red Bull has been sending him cases of their beverage every two weeks since. “It’s a competitive sport even though a lot of people don’t think so,” Langworthy said. “It’s a lot harder than it looks to play on that level. I just love the game. I have a lot of fun playing.” The reaction on social media during the broadcast was the first clue that ESPN was onto something with the ACL. “One of the guys came out of the production truck and said ‘Do you have any idea what’s going on on social media right now?’” Moore recalled. “I was like, ‘No, I’m just trying to run this event.’ He’s said, ‘You’ve gone viral on Twitter.’”

16

Whether it was sports broadcasters like Shannon Sharpe, bloggers for SB Nation and Barstool Sports, or the average joe, people were paying attention. Some were poking fun, but still they were paying attention. “For the most part, when people

reacted it was a good thing,” Moore said. “It was just great to see people talking about it.” When the numbers came in, the Championship of Bags had reached more than 300,000 viewers. In the age 18-49 demographic, cornhole had a bigger

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com


FANS&THRILLS audience that weekend than MLB on FS1 and TBS, the WNA All-Star game and the final stage of the Tour de France, according to Sports Media Watch. The numbers spoke to ESPN, and they signed on to broadcast all five of the ACL tournaments in 2018, now known as the Johnsonville Cornhole Championships, on ESPN2. Johnsonville Sausage signed on as the title sponsor of the pro series, bringing the total guaranteed cash prizes up for grabs this year to $100,000.

“We’ve enjoyed a great working relationship with ACL,” said Matthew Volk, ESPN director, Programming & Acquisitions. “We are excited to cover their major championships, culminating with coverage of the Championship of Bags for the second consecutive year. We look forward to continuing our collaboration, and presenting competitive cornhole across our platforms to fans.” What Moore hopes viewers are learning is that professional cornhole players are elite.

“The people that are good at it are highly skilled,” Moore said. “They’re highly competitive when they play it.” Some college fraternity brothers recognized that in Jordan Camba, the top ranked player in the ACL and player of the year in 2017. Members of the Sigma Beta Mu fraternity at Southern Connecticut State University were watching him play in sudden death in the finals of the ACL Kick-Off Battle in January in Kissimmee, Fla. on ESPN2. One of them messaged Camba on Instagram afterward and invited him to one of their alumni events to help them improve their game. “I never thought I’d actually have a fanbase for cornhole,” said Camba, a student at ECPI in Virginia Beach. “It’s really cool.” Both Langworthy and Camba are sponsored by AllCornhole, a cornhole board maker which covers their travel expenses. Camba said he made about $30,000 playing tournaments last year. “It’s definitely not enough to make a living but me being a college student, it’s a cool little job,” he said. “I call it a job. It basically pays for my car and pays for insurance and gets me through school (expense-wise.)” And playing on TV now means he might be spared a few of the times he has to explain that he makes money playing cornhole. “When I first tell (people) they give me that look like ‘Are you serious?’” Camba said. “And then I have to show them videos of it, so they can understand it. It’s definitely hard to explain how competitive it actually is and how good (players) are. Being able to throw the same exact bag every single time—to have that muscle memory throughout a whole tournament—that’s the hardest part about it.” Camba said he used to practice four or five nights a week by playing in local tournaments. Now he can stay sharp by playing in one or two a week. “It’s almost like riding a bike, once you get it you just know how to do it,” Camba said. While the major ACL tournaments almost always come down to the most seasoned players, they all have open formats. Moore has made an effort to

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com

17


FANS&THRILLS reach amateur players on the college level too. He has a goal of making cornhole a club sport on college campuses much the way the USTA has for club tennis. And this past December, the ACL debuted a college event called the Southern College Cornhole Championships. The event featured teams from each of the 14 Southeastern Conference schools in a tournament held at fanfare prior to the SEC championship football game in Atlanta. The tournament, which handed out $10,000 in scholarship money, aired on ESPNU. A couple of guys from Arkansas won it all and made friends with a young Razorback fan in the process. “There was a family that started out watching the broadcast on ESPNU and came out to the SEC Fanfare specifically to watch the end because their daughter said that she wanted to meet the winners,” Moore said. “So after these guys won they were taking pictures with all these young kids. They were pretty blown away by it. I was blown away too.” Moore has been playing cornhole himself casually for about 10 years. He got his start playing at football tailgates at N.C. State, his alma mater. What he’s always loved about the game is how so many people can relate to it, and that’s in part why he thinks it’s resonating with TV audiences.

18

“The great thing about cornhole is we can have a 14-year-old competing against a 75-year-old,” Moore said. “You can have a male competing against a female in the finals for all the money.” Speaking of money, there was $15,000 on the line when the ACL

hosted its event in Las Vegas March 15-18. The ACL makes its next stop in Green Bay Wisconsin on May 4-6, then Coney Island NY on July 4, and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, N.C. on July 11-15. For those who don’t live close to any of those sites, you can always tune in on TV.

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com


FANS&THRILLS

U

sually when sports venues go corporate, that’s bad news for tailgaters. It means fewer parking spaces, more expenses, and good times be damned. In this case, though, Talladega Superspeedway has made “going corporate” a plus.

TALLADEGA

SUPERSPEEDWAY

20

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com


by Carroll Rogers Walton (Twitter: @CarrollRogers)

Grant Lynch, Chairman of Talladega Superspeedway

Tailgaters, get ready for The Compound

One of the most fan-friendly tracks in NASCAR has taken an area formerly used for corporate hospitality and turned it into a tailgating haven called “The Compound.” Tailgaters in 90 premium parking spots located adjacent to the start/ finish line will have a short walk to the grandstands, beefed-up security and 15-by-25 foot parking spaces that will allow room not only for a car or truck but also 10-by-10 foot tents, grills, smokers, chairs, games, coolers and more. The lot features spaces that are either asphalt or gravel, which means less of a muddy mess in rainy weather. “We think it was a perfect opportunity to get something that we’ve heard a lot about,” said Grant Lynch, chairman of Talladega Superspeedway. “Fans want a little more space where they can put up a tent, 10-by-10 pop-up, and have up to 10 or so people in their area. We think it could take off and be a big hit for us.” The Compound will debut this April for Talladega’s tripleheader featuring the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Racing Series on April 27, the Sparks Energy 300 for the NASCAR XFINITY Series on April 28, and the GEICO 500 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on April 29. The area now known as The Compound used to house corporate hospitality tents for 100 people or more. Most of those functions have moved into

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com

21


FANS&THRILLS suites and luxury boxes underneath the grandstands. Fine by tailgaters. “The hospitality market has changed, but we believe this is a niche, where we may be able to put some more spots out there that a different set of people will say, ‘Wow that’s just exactly what I need because I only want to bring eight people with me,’” Lynch said. “We’re taking available space and using it with a different concept and seeing what the fans think about it. What was it about dinosaurs? You adapt or you’re not going to be around anymore.” It’s no secret NASCAR has taken a hit in popularity and TV ratings in recent years and track operators like Lynch are working hard to attract and retain new fans. Appealing to the tailgaters isn’t a bad place to start.

22

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com


FANS&THRILLS Lynch, who tailgates at Auburn football games in his spare time, has been an advocate for tailgating since he first arrived at Talladega in 1993. He started unlimited free camping at the iconic racetrack that sits on 2,700 acres of land. He brought alcohol-free zones to some of the campgrounds and church services on Sunday race days to complement the culture of Talladega Boulevard in what is known as the wildest infield in NASCAR. The Compound is for daytime use only— an alternative to RV and overnight camping— and it won’t break the bank. A weekend space goes for $200 plus the purchase of at least one ticket to the GEICO 500. Space holders then get six wristbands per day for their tailgating guests and they can buy an additional four wristbands.

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com

23


FANS&THRILLS Talladega was already in the process of trying to attract new fans after Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement. It’s been known for years as Earnhardt country for all the successes of Dale Earnhardt Sr. as its all-time winner, and Dale Jr.’s four straight wins there. Now Lynch hopes fans can get energized by young drivers like Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace. “It’s part of Talladega’s job and every other racetrack’s to build these new names and let fans gravitate to their person that will be their new Dale Earnhardt,” Lynch said. “Now that’s not the easiest for us to replace because we’re by far the biggest Earnhardt track in the country. It’s just the domination of that name here, and his dad’s persona matched the racetrack. He had that little sly grin, and he could just drive the wheels off the thing here.”

24

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com


FANS&THRILLS

Lynch thinks the name “The Compound” matches Talladega as well. “I love the name they came up with, ‘The Compound,’” Lynch said. “That sounds like Talladega. I think the fans hopefully will get behind it, and I think once they get there, the experience and where they’re parking, as close as they are, it’ll hopefully be a well-renewed product going forward.”

Check out more Fans & Thrills at www.insidetailgating.com

25


Profile for Inside Tailgating Magazine

Inside Tailgating: Spring 2018