By DONNA BALANCIA — NASCAR’s ban on testing for 2009 was done to save money for participating teams, but it will cost Brevard County hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tourism revenue, county officials estimate.
Testing vehicles, a critical element to getting the teams and drivers familiar with elements of their race cars, takes place at a series of locations prior to NASCAR events. Testing is considered by many to be the “spring training” of NASCAR, and in early January, Daytona International Speedway hosted sessions leading up to Speed Weeks.
For hoteliers, retailers and restaurateurs in Volusia and Brevard counties, January testing provided a boost before tourist season officially kicked off in the spring. The ban means that tourists passing through Brevard County and Daytona won’t do so this year.
Already, said Robert Luber, owner of Victory Circle, a NASCAR collector store in Melbourne, business has been slower than he’s seen it in the four years he’s been operating. He thinks that the ban on testing will make his sales slow even more.
“It’s going to hurt all the local businesses, now that they’ve done away with testing for 2009,” Luber said. “We get some of that business from the NASCAR fans who go to Daytona. This latest makes a bad situation even worse. I know things with my counterparts in other parts of the county are the same.”