After having been at the L.A. Fairplex in Pomona since 1992, organizers are eager for attendees to get their first glimpse of the 67th Annual California RV Show as one of the industry’s marquee events. The show, set to run Oct. 4-13, is moving about 20 miles east to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
Spread across more than a million square feet of display space, the California RV Show will showcase more than 1,000 new 2020 towable and motorized RVs from 37 manufacturers being marketed by 14 dealerships.
The show features a large exhibitor tent offering accessories and aftermarket products, 50 informative seminars on a variety of RV-related subjects, convenient free parking and easy access to the show, plenty of food and beverage options, and entertainment that includes free Ferris wheel rides and meet-and-greet opportunities with celebrities such as former L.A. Dodger Steve Garvey, former L.A. Laker James Worthy and NASCAR legends Terry and Bobby Labonte.
That’s not unlike what the show featured in Pomona, but according to Tom Gaither, Western show director for the host RV Industry Association (RVIA), the new venue is better able to accommodate the event’s expanding needs.
“It’s kind of interesting, the first 10 years or so we were at Dodger Stadium, then for the last few decades it’s been at Pomona, and now we’re moving to Auto Club Speedway — and it’s all because of growth,” Gaither told RVBUSINESS.com. “We outgrew Dodger Stadium, we outgrew Pomona, and now we’re moving to a world-class facility with the Auto Club Speedway.
“We were kind of landlocked at Pomona,” he continued. “When I first started eight years ago, the show was 600,000 square feet and we grew it to 1 million. But as we grew it to a million, it just kind of shrunk the outer parking. We started with about 8,000 parking spots, and then by the time we got to a million square feet, we were down to about 2,000 and we had to shuttle people from across the street. It just wasn’t handy at all.
“I’m starting out here with about 8,000 parking spots, and I’m already at a million square feet. I can handle 80,000 people and I have space all behind the backstretch if I need additional parking, When the Speedway runs their NASCAR event, they get 130,000 people. They recently had a musical festival there where they had 185,000 people. So they’re well-equipped for large groups,” Gaither added.
In addition, the Speedway offers free parking, modern restrooms and concessions stands, and room on the racetrack’s backstretch for more than 100 RVs set aside for test drives. Gaither said future plans include potentially opening up the infield’s 2,100 camping spots for RV clubs to use as a campground during the show.
“As far as the exhibitors, manufacturers and dealers, they’re also going to appreciate how clean the venue looks,” Gaither mentioned. “This floorplan is more rectangular than it was square last year, and once you get down the main aisle you’re going to say, ‘Wow, this show just looks twice as big as last year’s show.’ It’s not really, but when you look all the way down the aisle you’ll say, ‘Wow, this thing goes on forever and ever.’”
Pointing out that the Speedway is making a handful of NASCAR cars available to the show for attendees to take selfies with, Gaither said his team has had “really great marketing synergy” with the Speedway.
“For example, when NASCAR did a race here last March, we had a booth in the Fan Zone and we passed out over 5,000 complementary show tickets. And then all those 2,100 infield campers were given two tickets to the show that was in their goodie bag as they checked into their campsite. That’s huge right there. We’re also being allowed to use their database for names of all of their customers to send about three E-blasts to, and that’s huge,” he said, adding that they were also able to leverage the Speedway’s partnership with O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. The retailer, which has 203 locations in southern California, is offering discounted RV show admission tickets.
“It’s going to be a fun show, I can’t wait. It’s going to look a hundred percent better, just going to look classier, nicer. I can’t wait to see the guests go in there and start writing some deals,” he said.