FORT WORTH, Texas — The sound of rumbling engines. The roar of an excited crowd. The smell of fuel and rubber. And a sunny summer day to watch some of the best drivers in the world compete. But what's a NASCAR fan to do when their kids get hungry in the middle of a race?
Convenience store operator Yesway has answered that question with the opening of a new Allsup's Express Grab & Go concept store that emphasizes the "express."
The store sits inside Gate 4 of the concourse at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS), home to many of NASCAR's qualifying races, along with its playoff season. Located at the northernmost point of Fort Worth, Texas, TMS encompasses a mile and a half of track, fairgrounds and seating that can hold upwards of 200,000 spectators.
Though Allsup's had first launched an Express version back in August 2022, the TMS site differentiates itself in both size and style. Occupying 1,600 square feet of space, the shop primarily stocks plenty of easy-to-carry snacks and quick foodservice options to ensure fans miss as little of the race as possible. The store also includes mobile checkout conducted by employees using handheld card readers rather than traditional cash registers to lessen customers' time in line and get them back out into the stands quicker.
The store departs from the usual Allsup's design. Its footprint is considerably smaller than the brand's most recent openings in New Mexico and Texas, which ranged in size from 5,630 to 6,277 square feet, or even from the Allsup's Express launch location, which measures 3,000 square feet. This has meant a far more targeted selection of products at the Texas Motor Speedway shop.
"This is a unique store," said Derek Gaskins, chief marketing officer at Fort Worth-based Yesway, Allsup's parent company. "It is focused on our signature World Famous Burritos and food program, with a saturation of our Yesway and Allsup's private label snacks, candy and more. We included a handful of other national brands, but the assortment is curated and much smaller than a traditional store."
The store's opening came together relatively quickly, sparked by a multiyear deal between Yesway and Texas Motor Speedway that named Allsup's the official convenience store of the speedway. From the retailer's perspective, the agreement not only offers new opportunities, but also makes a great deal of practical sense. "With our corporate headquarters located close to their track, the partnership seemed ideal," Gaskins said.
The chain has worked with NASCAR in the past — mostly secondhand through its suppliers' relationships — but this is the first direct partnership between the two. Gaskins believes this direct approach will help better target the retailer's potential customer base.
"The Texas Motor Speedway draws [crowds] heavily from Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas," he said. "All are states where we operate, so the partnership potential resonates well with our consumers."
However, Gaskins pointed out that the plan isn't to market purely to NASCAR fans, but also to take advantage of all the events hosted at TMS, including the Cowtown Fair held in the spring and noncompetitive footraces such as the Bubble Run.
"[In the] longer term, we believe that it is a good way to develop our brand by extending beyond our traditional format," he said. "Over the past few years, we have grown rapidly to become a chain with nearly 440 stores, so building our brand equity and extending into new venues helps accelerate that even further."
The response to the store since its April opening has been "tremendous," Gaskins reported. "The NASCAR race community has embraced the store, and we are excited to operate it."
As for future plans, he looks forward to seeing Yesway continue to grow. The company has ramped up expansion over the last few years between both new store builds and purchase agreements. In Texas, it acquired nine Tres Amigos stores in 2022, as well as five Ranglers stores this February, rebranding both chains under the Allsup's and Yesway banners. These came on top of the previously mentioned new Allsup's locations in New Mexico and Texas.
Additionally, Yesway raised $190 million in new equity in the back half of 2022, with the majority of the structured equity coming from credit-focused alternative investment firm HPS Investment Partners. The funding will be used to continue building new stores, as well as renovating existing ones throughout this year and beyond.
"Our plan is to grow by a minimum of 25 to 30 stores in the next 12 months," said Gaskins. "It is truly an exciting time for the Yesway/Allsup's brands and all our wonderful store associates and corporate team members."