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Driving Today

Ending the Kentucky Snarl

Bluegrass State pledges millions in improvements to help a lot of racing fans.

About six weeks ago, we reported the plight of fans that were unlucky enough to be caught in the gridlock as Kentucky Speedway staged its inaugural Sprint Cup race. An estimated 10,000 race fans found themselves so thwarted by traffic that they couldn’t even park their cars and make it through the gates in time to see the race they paid their hard-earned money for. Since we are longtime advocates for the long-suffering motor racing fans, we had to ask: How could this happen?

Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) -- the company that operates Kentucky Speedway -- also runs New Hampshire, Bristol, Atlanta, Charlotte and Texas Motor Speedways. They know how to stage a race weekend; they understand race-day logistics, and they generally do a very good job of getting fans into and out of their venues. As professionals in the field of promotion, they know the necessity of doing that right. One thing that is absolutely key to making that happen is working with local and state government to get people into and out of racing facilities relatively quickly and efficiently.

The very good news for the next race at Kentucky Speedway is that SMI immediately has realized it had a problem and has done something about it. It has just announced that it will engage an engineering company to survey its current parking situation and make recommendations for rapid improvements. To that end, Speedway Motorsports purchased a 143-acre parcel of land contiguous to the track, which will add 35 percent to its parking capacity. At the same time, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has pledged that the state will make $3.6 million in road improvements around the facility to ease traffic and facilitate traffic flow. While it is doubtful that the improvements will be in place at Kentucky Speedway in time for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on October 1 or the IndyCar Series event on October 2, the new parking lot might be online. And of course, neither event is likely to draw the 100,000-plus crowd that so snarled things in July. We’re pleased that a happy ending is in store for racing fans.