Motorsports Roar to Life in Cabarrus County, NC
In Cabarrus County, motorsports provide plenty of entertainment as well as a notable economic boost. The Hendrick Motorsports facility is home to NASCAR teams from Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
The economic engine of Cabarrus County, N.C., is literally an engine.
Motorsports is a driving force propelling the county’s economy and its visitor traffic. From the high-profile NASCAR teams that have set up shop in the region to the hundreds of companies that support the auto racing industry and create thousands of jobs, Cabarrus County is definitely “Where Racing Lives.”
“There is so much in this region for fans, businesses and entertainment that revolves around not only NASCAR, but motorsports in general,” says Scott Cooper, vice president of communications for Charlotte Motor Speedway.
CMS is a 140,000-seat track that sits in the heart of the county and holds two major NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races each year, along with several other events. The track complex also includes the zMax Dragway – a four-lane, all-concrete drag strip that hosts national events – and a popular dirt track for local racing.
In addition to these first-class facilities, Cabarrus County is where most of the top NASCAR teams have their headquarters The list includes Hendrick Motorsports (which has a sprawling 215,000-square-foot shop), Stewart-Haas Racing (home of 2011 Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart), Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. In total, nearly 90 percent of all the Sprint Cup teams are located within 100 miles of Charlotte Motor Speedway, generating jobs and revenue right along with horsepower.
“In any other sport, you’d have teams spread out across the country,” says Kevin Woods, senior director of corporate communications for Roush Fenway Racing. “In NASCAR, almost everybody is right in this area. This is the hub of the sport.”
Beyond the Track
The influence of the motorsports industry in Cabarrus County extends far beyond the race tracks. More than 200 motorsports-related enterprises are located in the county, from new research facilities such as Windshear, which offers high-tech, wind-tunnel testing, to established media companies such as the Motor Racing Network, which has provided radio coverage of the sport since 1970.
“As the sport has grown, you’ve seen a lot of businesses that have located here in support of that industry,” Cooper says. “There are accountants, travel agents, communication companies and so many other businesses that are based on motorsports. There truly is just layer upon layer of the industry located here.”
Nowhere is this more evident than in tourism. Propelled by a passionate racing fan base, tourism generated an economic impact for the county of nearly $313 million in 2010, an increase of approximately 7 percent from the previous year. Nearly 3,700 jobs in Cabarrus County are directly tied to travel and tourism.
Racing-related attractions in Cabarrus County include a tour chronicling the life of seven-time champion and Kannapolis native Dale Earnhardt, the gallery of renowned NASCAR artist Sam Bass and the Curb Museum for Music and Motorsports.
The Curb Museum, founded by music industry executive Mike Curb, includes 20,000 square feet of space devoted to two of Curb's passions – music and racing. Among the exhibits are NASCAR, IndyCar and modified race cars including the No. 2 car Dale Earnhardt drove in his first Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) Championship and the No. 43 car Richard Petty drove in his 199th Winston Cup win – a sister car to the one Petty drove in his 200th win that now resides at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
“The volume of motorsports-related attractions sets Cabarrus County and the surrounding region apart as a destination,” says Donna Carpenter, president and chief executive officer of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a unique experience that fans can’t get anywhere else.”
90: Approximate percentage of NASCAR race teams with their headquarters in Cabarrus County.
200+: Number of motorsports-related businesses in Cabarrus County.
20,000+: Number of people employed by motorsports-related businesses in Cabarrus County
$312.92 million: Economic impact of tourism in Cabarrus County, primarily motorsports related.
3,680: Number of jobs in Cabarrus County directly attributable to travel and tourism.
140,000: Seating capacity of Charlotte Motor Speedway, which holds events throughout the year, highlighted by the NASCAR races each May and October.
16,000 square feet: Size of the HD video board at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the largest in the world.