BofA dangles free tickets in front of racing fans

Given the turmoil on Wall Street and overall economic downturn, many area residents probably aren't eager to open a new checking account or apply for another credit card.

Despite financial concerns, however, Bank of America is betting that some NASCAR fans won't mind opening a new account if it gets them free passes to next month's Sprint Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The Charlotte-based bank will give two tickets to the Oct. 11 Bank of America 500 to each person who joins the NASCAR Banking program. Along with seats in the Turn 4 Club section, fans get free food and a chance to meet Sprint Cup drivers Kasey Kahne and Reed Sorenson.

“It's probably a $400 value,” said Mike Hargrave, Bank of America's motorsports platform executive.

Kenny Wallace – one of 16 drivers whose images are used in NASCAR Banking – said he couldn't recall another promotion that gave away hundreds of race tickets. “We're hoping we can help out people who are bummed out about fuel prices,” Wallace said.

High gas prices curbed crowds at the speedway's last Sprint Cup race, the May 25 Coca-Cola 600.

Bank of America will give away race tickets at its 64 Charlotte-area branches through Oct. 8. The bank bought 1,600 tickets at a discount, Hargrave said, which translates to a goal of 800 new NASCAR Banking accounts. The promotion will end after those tickets are gone because the Turn 4 Club seats only 1,600 fans.

With the affinity banking program, customers can get cards and checks printed with a driver's image or the NASCAR logo. Account holders also earn “RacePoints” based on spending, which they can redeem for merchandise, race tickets or special events.