NASCAR Sprint Race to Kentucky Speedway July 2011
Mark Saturday, July 7th on your 2011 calendar for the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway! Plan on making it a full weekend as the NASCAR Nationwide Series race will run on Friday, July 6th. What the heck! Just come early for practice sessions and time trials. You can also take in the concerts and other special activities. Just make a full week of it! Any NASCAR weekend is big. This one will be special as it celebrates the culmination of many years of anticipation and preparation by Kentucky Speedway founder Jerry Carroll and his team. Carroll’s “team” includes not only his business partners and track management but also local and state officials.
When NASCAR would not provide a Sprint Cup race to Kentucky Speedway, Carroll sold the track to Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI) in 2008. SMI Chairman and CEO Bruton Smith announced today that that he will move a NASCAR Sprint Cup race from his Atlanta track to Kentucky Speedway. Smith plans to spend 90 to 100 million dollars on track expansion with most to be completed by the July 2011 race weekend. Planned improvements include 50,000 more seats, more restrooms, twelve elevators, and 200 more campsites. Other “fan-friendly” improvements include restructuring the garage area for better fan access. The planned expansion and race week will provide a much needed boost to the region’s economy. A NASCAR Sprint Cup race week can bring up to 150 million dollars to the region.
Also speaking was Marcus Smith, son of Bruton and president of SMI. Marcus also runs Lowes Motor Speedway. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations, represented NASCAR and welcomed Kentucky Speedway to the Sprint Cup Series.
Just how big was this announcement? The tent was set up to accommodate 500 invited guests plus media representatives and track officials. It was standing room only. I counted 12 video cameras in the media section and at least as many still cameras—pretty good indicators of interest. Governor Steve Beshear introduced former Governor Paul Patton who initiated enabling legislation for the track during his term. Kentucky Speaker of the House of Representatives Greg Stumbo welcomed NASCAR to Kentucky. Kentucky Senate President David Williams said the state is “forever grateful to Jerry Carroll for his vision.” Also in attendance were numerous state legislators and officials from area counties and cities. Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory was introduced.
Joey Lagono, representing NASCAR drivers, said the Kentucky Speedway track is “a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to a Cup race there.” Lagono knows from experience as he raced “Legends” on the track at age 12 and won at Kentucky in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2008 and 2009.
NASCAR Hall of Fame member and Owensboro, Kentucky native Darrell Waltrip was master of ceremonies and contributed much to the discussion. Darrell and his brother Michael are also members of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.
View event photos at: http://luvracinron.smugmug.com/
Ron Singleton, LuvRacin.com, August 10, 2010