NASCAR: Kentucky prepares for race
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2011
WARSAW, Ky. — Counties and cities near the Kentucky Speedway are gearing up to attract some of the 125,000 fans expected to arrive this week for the track’s inaugural Sprint Cup race.
Track officials estimate that $150 million could be pumped into the local economy.
The 400-mile Sprint cup race will conclude a tripleheader NASCAR weekend that opens with a 225-mile Camping World Truck Series race July 7 and spotlights a 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series event July 8.
“This is like the Super Bowl coming to Kentucky,” said Tim Bray, director of communications for the speedway. “It’s a major, major event that is just as big in motor sports as the Derby is to horse racing.”
The counties of Gallatin, Oldham, Jefferson, Owen and Carroll have festivities planned throughout the week to draw tourists and several business owners have expanded their hours.
Rena Mylor, who owns a restaurant in Warsaw a few miles from the speedway, told The Courier-Journal that she is recruiting extra staff to handle the crowds.
“It is going to be completely insane,” she said, laughing.
In Oldham County, hotel guests will receive a coupon book and brochures designed to entice them to visit various stores, restaurants and venues.
“We’re looking for as many ways as we can to attract people off the interstate to La Grange,” Oldham Judge-Executive David Voegele said.
Until this year, the largest event at the speedway was the annual NASCAR Nationwide Series, which drew 70,000 fans in one day, Bray said.
“It’s not just Kentucky Speedway’s guests,” said Jesse Harris, who does sales and marketing for the speedway. “It’s the region’s guests.”
Since the races are in the evening, fans will be free for breakfast, lunch and shopping.
Craft store owner Michelle Gardner said she placed three discount options in Oldham’s coupon book and will have extended hours this week.
Neal O’Connor, who owns the Sparta BP across from the Kentucky Speedway, said he put a new coat of paint on his building; ordered extra shipments of water, soda and beer and is bringing in portable toilets. He said he expects his business to quadruple.
Bret Calhoun, administrative assistant for the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce & Community Development Corp., said Carrollton is planning a festival that includes a beer garden, music, food and race cars.
“We definitely want to take advantage of this,” Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said. “It gives us the opportunity to showcase our community.”
DES MOINES, Iowa — Featherlite Inc. founder Conrad Clement and his family have purchased the Iowa Speedway in a sale that officials said won’t affect the daily operations of the popular track.
The 0.875-mile track has been a hit with fans in Iowa since it opened in 2006.
This year, Iowa has four major events on the schedule, including last month’s IndyCar race, two NASCAR Nationwide events and a NASCAR trucks series event on July 16.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard also said last week that he’d like a doubleheader at Iowa in 2012.