Speedways Jerry Carroll
has bittersweet end to dream
owner Bruton Smith makes
good on promise to land Sprint Cup
Indiana Edition Cover
SPARTA, Ky. (September 2010) Kentucky Speedway
fans are scrambling to order tickets for next years Sprint Cup
race in the wake of new owner Bruton Smiths Aug. 10 announcement
that NASCAR had awarded the Gallatin County track a race date of July
The telephone lines have been lighting up at the tracks corporate
headquarters in Fort Mitchell, Ky., officials there say.
A large press conference was held under a huge tent near the entrance
to the track that attracted hundreds of reporters, TV and still photographers,
politicians and VIPs from the region. That was where new owner Bruton
Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., made the announcement flanked
by NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR official Steve ODonnell,
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and a host of other politicians and dignitaries.
Let me put it this way: When I tried to call our ticket manager,
I couldnt get through to him, said Kentucky Speedway General
Manager Mark Simendinger in the days following the announcement. And
I called him again the next day, and I still couldnt get through.
Its been crazy. I cant even get through to find out how
Hundreds of NASCAR fans and season ticket holders are trying to lock
in their chance to obtain seats to next years inaugural 400-mile
Sprint Cup race. Those who hold season tickets will get first priority.
Fans who put down a deposit for 2011 season tickets will get second
The Sprint Cup race will be combined with a NASCAR Nationwide Series
race the night before, and track officials have not yet decided whether
to bundle the ticket sales for both events once they begin selling single
event tickets. Many NASCAR tracks force fans to purchase both events.
If the sales for both races are bundled, the track will likely wait
to see what is left before selling single event tickets, Simendinger
The track currently seats around 66,089, but with Smiths announced
plans to add another 50,000 seats before next year, the tracks
capacity is expected to reach around 116,000.
by Don Ward
for a celebratory photo
Aug. 10 at the Kentucky Speedway
are (front row from left) NASCAR
Vice President of Operations
Steve ODonnell, Kentucky Gov.
Steve Beshear, Miss Sprint Cup
Amanda Wright, Jerry Carroll,
Bruton Smith, Marcus Smith, (back
row from left) Darrell Waltrip,
NASCAR driver Joey Logano,
Kentucky State Senate President
David Williams, Kentucky House
of Representatives Speaker Greg
Stumbo and track General Manager
Expansion work totalling $100 million is scheduled to
begin soon after the tracks final race weekend, which is Labor
Day Weekend, Sept. 3-4. The track will play host to NASCARs Camping
World Truck Series race on Friday night and the IndyCar Series race
on Saturday night.
Then the dirt will begin to fly as construction begins on the expansion,
which in addition to more seats will include more restrooms and elevators,
and clear more than 200 acres for additional camping.
The planned development means that more than 100,000 people could visit
the track for one race weekend, with an estimated economic impact of
$150 million to the region.
It will be enormous, said Beshear. My guess is that
it will be the largest economic impact of any multi-day sporting event
that Kentuckys ever had. To think that well have this every
year is even more of a plus for us.
Waltrip and others praised the day of the announcement as a decision
that was too long in coming. Today is like climbing Mount Everest,
Waltrip said at the podium. Weve been way up, and weve
slid way back a number of times. But today that climb and making it
to that summit is what we hoped and dreamed about.
Beshear, who last year signed legislation to provide economic tax incentives
to the new owner if he landed a Sprint Cup race, said, I knew
when I met Bruton that somehow we were going to make this happen because
hes a guy who makes things happen.
Smith, meanwhile, used the opportunity to lobby the governor for help
in building an airport near the track to make it easier for the NASCAR
drivers and team members to access the site on race weekends. When
NASCAR comes to town, the teams bring bring in more than 150 aircraft
and 150 motorcoaches alone, he said. He added that an airport
would spur additional development as well. Beshear promised to work
on developing an airport.
by Don Ward
Gov. Steve Beshear
shares a laugh with new owner
Bruton Smith (middle) and his son,
Marcus Smith prior to the
Aug. 10 press conference.
The Cup date for Kentucky was made possible by taking
away one of Atlantas two races. The schedule was shuffled, giving
Kentucky the weekend usually held at Chicagoland. That race was moved
to later in the season.
Smith said he was sorry to see Atlanta lose a race but was also excited
to provide one in the NASCAR-starved Cincinnati and Kentucky markets.
He cited the fact that the Kentucky Speedway has consistently proven
it can pack in 70,000 fans for a Nationwide Series race, so it should
be just as rich a market for the Sprint Cup.
It wont be a problem here because I dont think you
can find an area in the United States that is more ready than this one
is, Smith said. I have no concern about that. You can go
back and look at how many fans weve had here for Nationwide and
Trucks, and I think this will even draw in new fans.
Gallatin County officials, meanwhile, are bracing for the onslaught
of development, traffic and people to visit in the coming years. We
expect to see an increased interest in people wanting to build hotels
and restaurants and businesses throughout the area. We just dont
know what this will bring yet, said Gallatin County Judge-Executive
The county only has four hotels totaling 200 rooms and manages its tourism
efforts with an all-volunteer, seven-member board, according to Gallatin
Countys tourism director Wayne Rassman.
Our first goal is to hire a tourism director and then get to work
at what we need to do to prepare for a Sprint Cup race in Gallatin County,
Rassman said. Weve got to work fast, because a year will
go by fast and the race will be here before you know it. We want to
reach out to our neighboring tourism boards and see what we can do as
a region to get ready.
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