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Mike Tatoian says times are a-changin’ at Dover International Speedway

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Mike Tatoian poses in front of the Miles the Monster statue at Dover International Speedway. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DOVER MOTORSPORTS

DOVER – As president and CEO of Dover International Speedway, Mike Tatoian’s efforts focus on three major events: NASCAR in the spring, the Firefly Music Festival shortly after, and NASCAR again in the fall.

It’s a grand roster, and one that’s reflective of changes in the entire sports world as major venues and sports facilities become multi-purposed, according to Tatoian.

“That didn’t happen overnight,” Tatoian said. “You’ve got these large facilities, a lot of property, a lot of the success with the primary tenant or event, which is NASCAR for us.

“But what has started is that these facilities are becoming more than one-dimensional.”

For Dover International Speedway, that dimension multiplied with the arrival of the Firefly Musical Festival in 2012, drawing emerging and established names in music and thousands of fans. A University of Delaware study on the 2014 event put its regional economic impact at around $68 million.

But Tatoian said the jolt it’s given the speedway – including its adjoining Woodlands and campground area – is incalculable.

“It’s highlighted our facility and we’ve gotten calls about different kinds of festivals or other events to consider. Literally, it put us on the worldwide map,” he said. “If nothing else, it’s a trigger for others to consider Dover International Speedway.”

Posturing the speedway as a venue for events like Firefly goes hand in hand with the NASCAR industry’s drive to debunk longstanding myths about its followers – that they’re older, less tech-savvy, and that the industry has little appeal among millennials.

Tatoian said it just isn’t so, and NASCAR has a new sponsor to prove it.

“Beginning this year we’re the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” Tatoian said. “Monster Energy sees its demographic as millennials. And they also see NASCAR as a terrific partner to get to those millennials that are paying attention to NASCAR.”

During both the NASCAR and Firefly events, Tatoian said he seldom goes home.

While he said he’s come to enjoy the indie style of music, his favorite performers have been Earth Wind & Fire last year, and he’s looking forward to Bob Dylan’s performance in June.

“They do take care of me by always having some oldies but goodies,” he said.

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