“Speedweeks and the DAYTONA 500 are great, but the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola weekend is my favorite,” said Stacy Rego – DAYTONA’s Customer Care Specialist & Military Liaison.
“I was a NASCAR fan from the get-go. Every Sunday after church, my granddaddy would take us out for a picnic and we would listen to the races from the radio of his Buick sedan. That’s ultimately what led me to becoming a season ticket holder at DAYTONA,” she recalled.
For an avid race fan, who served in the US Marine Corps from 1981-89, the reasons why the Coke Zero 400 stand out appear to be too many to count.
“I love everything about it,” she explained. “This race is just so personally meaningful, seeing just how much time and energy is spent in honoring and showing appreciation for the military.”
Ultimately, Stacy explains how it hits closer to home, making her even more passionate about her job -- getting more and more veterans, retired military and active duty members to experience a 4th of July weekend unlike any other. While she holds many duties similar to the rest of her peers in the ticket office, she takes particular pride in this “military liaison” part of her job.
DAYTONA’s relationship with the military runs deep. As far back as 1969, Bill France Sr. invited all surviving Medal of Honor recipients to attend the 1969 race, dubbing it the Medal of Honor Firecracker 400. A total of 100 members from 31 states attended the race with Thomas J. Kelly, the president of the Medal of Honor Society, serving as the grand marshal with the heroes flown in via military aircraft.
Stacy is tasked with continuing the work of the France family and many others at DAYTONA, as she strives to continually build relationships and grow the military connections between DAYTONA and the armed forces.
“When I was hired in 2008, DIS worked with about 150 army bases via the Military Voucher Program,” she explained. “Essentially, the Department of the Army would take our offers and disseminate them throughout the bases with which we were contracted.”
However, only a handful of bases had members actually purchasing tickets, making Stacy’s initial goal quite clear – build one-on-one relationships with each base.
“To this day, when I call a base for the first time, I explain how our program works, highlight what it can do to benefit their members and stress how easy it is,” she stated.
The program does indeed work in an incredibly straightforward manner.
Any active duty or retired military member can come into the base’s ticket office, make a reservation, with their tickets shipped to the base for pickup in plenty of time for the race.
I really believe in our military program,” Stacy explained. “We're convenient, flexible and most importantly, affordable. The only piece missing when I came into was just the awareness. Once we got word out, I knew the interest would be there.”
The word she needed to get out? That an event at DAYTONA wasn’t just a race, but a one-of-a-kind experience.
“So many of the military folks that I sell to contact me after the race and say, ‘That was a wow experience. There was a great pre-race concert, military appreciation, post-race fireworks and a race under the lights with drivers pulling almost '3Gs' of acceleration on 31 degree of banking.’ And that’s something that’s affordable for their whole family.”
When asked about the most important theme she shares with prospective military customers, “value” is the word she says comes up the most.
“Being in the military, usually means being on a budget. For the Coke Zero 400, you can bring your kids for less than $20, with free access to UNOH Fanzone. When you compare to other options in Florida or the United States, they're so much more expensive. This is where you get the best bang for your buck.”
DAYTONA also provides several other great options to support the attendance of military members.
In partnership with the Greater Jacksonville Area USO and the Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix), DAYTONA’s “Tickets for Troops” program provides race fans the opportunity to help send members of the military to the Coke Zero 400. Fans are able to contribute $3, $5, $10 or more, with 100 percent of all contributions going directly toward the cost of tickets to active, retired, honorably discharged veterans, reserves and Gold Star Families. Daytona International Speedway will match every dollar gifted through this program.
Overall, it seems like the tremendous experience paired with the incredible value has resonated with military members as DAYTONA’s relationship and contracts with bases have grown tremendously. “We're still doing a lot of business with Army bases, but now we have added individual Marine Corps and Air Force bases, in addition to a contract with the Department of Navy, which covers almost 200 Navy bases. The biggest bonus is that it’s helping us expand our reach nationwide with bases in states like Washington and Alaska.”
Regardless of the distance, Stacy remains determined in bringing fellow military members to DAYTONA.
“I want to do the world for them. If I can get them here for a race, I know I’m introducing a memorable life experience to their family. The Coke Zero 400 – that’s an experience where they can leave feeling loved and appreciated. It’s a life-changing perspective for many who come.”
The ultimate reward for Stacy?
“It’s their faces on race day,” she said assuredly. “It’s magical. I tell all of my customers to stop by and see me. It makes all of my efforts worthwhile. Getting to do that for them leaves me speechless.”
From the girl that grew up an AJ Foyt fan to the woman that holds her military experience close to her heart, it’s hard to imagine a job any more appropriate at meshing one’s greatest passions.
“It’s the best job in the world,” she exclaimed. “I work with the greatest people at the best place in the world, doing work that really matters to me. I'm just so thankful my life has taken the path it has.”