Merchandise at Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville, VA -- You can't leave the Speedway without getting a souvenir or two. In fact, plenty of people make their living by selling race fans a lot of merchandise. We looked into how profitable those dealers are and what sells the most.
"It's fun to just be around the fans, because they love this sport so much," said Melanie Eldridge, food, beverage, and merchandise manager for Americrown.
Behind the scenes of every race, an army of workers stock the shelves.
"Hats, t-shirts, shot glasses, key chains. You name it, we sell it," said Kim Cole, track side operations manager for Americrown.
"It's like any venue. People that go to it want to have that memorabilia for the different event that they've gone to," said Cole.
But a few days of sales takes weeks of preparation. Cole and her crew travel alongside the drivers. They set up shop at about half of the races.
"It's a lot of fun because you see so many different people, and we touch so many different people," said Eldridge.
Cole says the business is profitable but not overly lucrative.
"It depends on the venue. Talladega is a big venue, so it's going to be higher than Martinsville," said Cole.
In fact, Cole told us this track ranks at the bottom five in profitability.
They said that they bring many of their products from race to race. Plus, they bring in specialty items.
Cole says hands down, Dale Jr. merchandise brings in the most cash.
"The fans love him! I don't know," said Cole.
"You do have popular drivers, but we don't sell out of anything," said Eldridge.
But still, Cole says they hit the road and sell merchandise because they love what they do.
"We love Martinsville. You have the Martinsville hot dogs, you have the people here. They are fantastic to deal with. Fans are friendly," said Cole.
Many of the merchandise vendors inside of the gates hire non-profit workers to sell their products. They give the non-profits a cut of the sales, and they say it's to help each community they go to.