Kentucky Speedway Revs up for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
More than 100,000 cheering fans, an anticipated economic impact of more than $150 million and the biggest names in stock car racing – no wonder excitement is revving up in the Bluegrass State. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series premiers at the Kentucky Speedway July 9, 2011.
“Kentucky is the hottest ticket we’ve got of all the speedways right now,” says Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc. He predicts the Kentucky event will be the biggest race of the circuit in 2011. The 1.5-mile track becomes the 23rd motorsports facility on the 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule and the first facility to be added to the national tour since 2001.
Sprint Cup Goal Realized
Constructed in 2000 with the goal of landing a Sprint Cup race – NASCAR's top racing tier – the already top-notch Kentucky Speedway track and facilities are being spruced up in preparation for the event. "We're talking about close to $50 million worth of work being put into place in about eight or nine months," says Mark Simendinger, general manager.
The work includes adding 40,000 seats in two new seating towers, including concessions and restrooms, adding thousands of new camping spots, new elevators, additional restrooms, improved parking, and reconstruction of the fan center and gift shop. In addition, pit road is being relocated closer to the fan viewing area. Changes to the track itself are not needed to accommodate the event.
More Than 100,000 Fans Expected
The race is expected to draw spectators from throughout Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Tennessee to see Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and their fellow Sprint Cup Series stars compete in the 400-mile race in July.
The event is the highlight of the Kentucky’s Speedway’s season-opening weekend which also features a 225-mile NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race July 7 and 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series event July 8.
"The passionate NASCAR fans throughout Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati have deserved a Sprint Cup race for a long time," Smith says. "Before this, Kentucky was about horses, but now, it's all about more horsepower. We're going to create the grandest sporting event in the history of the state."
A bold claim, but NASCAR Sprint Cup races are some of the nation''s most popular annual sporting events, and the sport is the second-most watched on television. If the fast sale of all 32 luxury suites at approximately $50,000 each is any indication, the 105,000 seats in the Kentucky Speedway’s grandstand should be full.
Money Into the Economy
Thousands of fans attending the race will also spend money in hotels, restaurants and shops. "The level of economic activity and the focus that's going to be on our area is going to be unprecedented," Simendinger says.
Gallatin County Judge-Executive Kenny McFarland says the potential economic impact of more than 100,000 people is exciting, and so is the national recognition of the county and Kentucky. And Gallatin County will be ready for the visitors, he says. “Just like any community, we expect to learn and prosper from an event like this," he says. "We wish the Kentucky Speedway the very best.”
Smith, noting a recent study showed Atlanta Motor Speedway has an economic impact of more than $450 million in Georgia, adds, “We’ll get at least half that here, and maybe more.”