Former President Matthew Becherer promoted within International Speedway Corporation
Al Garcia raced go-karts as a youth, has had a career in motorsports, and now he takes over as the president of the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Naturally I’m very excited,” Garcia said.
Garcia, a native of Miami and a graduate of Columbus High School, began his career in motorsports working with the Miami Grand Prix in 1985 and was an original member of the Homestead-Miami Speedway staff when construction began in 1993.
“When I arrived here it was a potato field,” Garcia said. “I’m proud to say I’m the only person that’s been here throughout and so I feel I’ve been preparing for this opportunity my whole professional career.”
He takes over for Matthew Becherer, who had served as the president since 2009 before leaving to become the vice president of consumer sales for International Speedway Corporation (ISC) in Daytona Beach.
“This is a well-deserved promotion for Al and something he has prepared for his entire professional career,” ISC chief operating officer Joie Chitwood III said. “Not only does he bring extensive industry and company knowledge to this position, but more importantly a great deal of leadership of the Homestead-Miami Speedway team.”
One of the most noticeable changes Garcia and his staff will be undertaking in the near future is having the NASCAR race weekend moving from championship weekend in November to an earlier date in the season, starting with the 2020 race held March 20-22.
“The biggest challenge is the compressed sales cycle,” Garcia said. “We’re going to be selling two races at once. Typically we start selling the race 9-10 months prior to the event happening. Now if people really start paying attention to March, December 1 really compresses the sales cycle, but we’re very nimble here. We host, although the only really large mass scale event is NASCAR, about 300 events a year here. The facility turning it around and getting it ready to go, nuts and bolts, parking, traffic, making our guests comfortable will be pretty straightforward although we’ll have to put more hands on deck and some longer hours, but that part is very manageable. We just have to make sure the clarity of the message when we’re trying to promote ourselves with two events at the same time. So in September, October, November we’re going to be selling tickets for the November show and for March simultaneously.”
Garcia has goals of continuing to expand the facilities’ ability to host large events, most notably Ultra Music Festival, which has been in discussions in recent months about the potential of moving it from Miami to Homestead.
“We’ve been very successful for a long period of time so I have some big shoes to fill, but I am very, very optimistic that we will continue to operate and promote world-class events,” Garcia said. “I’d like to see a little bit more content. It’s no secret that we are courting Ultra Music Festival to be a part of our roster here and there’s other events as well. The business needs have changed. Dolphins’ stadium is diversifying and there’s other properties similar to this that are exploring different ways whether it be lifestyle events, triathlons, music festivals, or things of that nature, but we could always use more world-class racing events as well.”
There has been a noticeable growth in racing since the track opened in 1995 and Garcia looks forward to continuing to further progress.
“It’s been an evolution for sure and as different sports grow and evolve, we grow with them,” Garcia said. “When we opened this track there was no internet, no e-mail addresses for any of the staff. Technology demand and reliance of technology by professionals and expectations of the guests are probably the most tangible things I’ve seen. As NASCAR was a regional sport not so long ago in the late 80s and early 90s, it has become a national and global brand. That has been a significant change to our business.”