One thing racetracks tend not to do is think out of the box when it comes to promotions. They basically think what do we need to do to get people to come out to the track? Typically it boils down to a mystery tote ticket or a give away T-shirt or baseball cap. This is fine, but all it does is get people already exposed to the track back to the track; it does little to get new people in the door.
Now, if you think out of the box, you may think more along, to paraphrase an expression, "If they won't come to the racetrack, have the racetrack come to them" and this is exactly what happens in Te Anau, New Zealand where they have the Te Anau street races. By the way, Te Anau does not have a racetrack in town. What they do is on one of the streets in Te Anau, they put down a small racing surface and they have a set of twelve two horse races. Attendees can buy pseudo-currency to make bets on the races as well as food and beverage. At the end of the day, there is a Dutch auction for travel vouchers and electronics. All profits for the day go to local charities and harness racing wins good will..
The day turns into quite a social event as these pictures show. People have a great time, the harness racing community and local racetrack establish good will, and no doubt some of these people who see these races undoubtedly decide to go visit the nearest racetrack for a night of racing.
Certainly this is thinking out of the box and not an inexpensive event to put on which requires the cooperation of horsemen. But you will also likely get the most publicity in your local newspapers (and television)that you have seen in years.
Sometimes you just have to think out of the box. Let's see if there is any North American track that will try an event like this.