News & Media


Kentucky Speedway improvements under way

January 25, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

Although the vast majority of race fans were in their seats at the green flag of Kentucky Speedway's inaugural Cup race last July, many fans endured a slog of four or five hours to get there. Some grew frustrated and turned around; others made it, only to discover that there was nowhere to park.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Expanded parking, better access to facilities and infrastructure changes planned

The orange traffic barrels and cones leading into the ballroom where Kentucky Speedway officials were preparing to make an announcement was an appropriate touch Wednesday.

They also represented an admission of guilt that they got it wrong last July when mismanaged traffic led to major problems during the inaugural Sprint Cup race at the facility that seats 107,000. Although the announced crowd was a sellout and officials even contended closer to 120,000 eventually crowded into the seats and the infield, many fans who purchased tickets either couldn't get parked to get into the race at all or arrived late because they were stuck in traffic for hours.

"We're readying Kentucky Speedway for a larger crowd in 2012 than we had in 2011."

--BRUTON SMITH

"While we had some very positive things that happened during our first year of Cup racing, we realize there was one very large negative," said Mark Simendinger, general manager of the track.

Along with Bruton Smith -- chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns the speedway -- Simendinger laid out for the media what has been done and continues to be done to ensure the problem disappears when NASCAR returns for a full weekend of racing this June 28-30, with a Camping World Truck Series race that Friday, followed by Nationwide and Cup races on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The improvements, which already are under way, are expected to be completed by this May. They include:

-- Expanded parking. The speedway purchased two large land parcels adjacent to the north side of Kentucky Highway 35, which will be converted to expansive new parking fields. The speedway also repurposed portions of its original acreage to provide for additional parking, which Simendinger said will result in 12,200 to 18,700 additional parking spaces that should accommodate at least 36,600 fans.

-- Easier facility access. The state of Kentucky has committed to widening the Interstate-71 exit ramp at Ky. 35, widening Ky. 35 to seven lanes at points where it services the speedway. The state also is constructing a pedestrian tunnel that will connect the new parking fields to the speedway grounds.

-- Infrastructure improvements. The speedway will construct an overpass to its infield tunnel road that will separate tram traffic and infield traffic. Three large restroom buildings also are being added to the facility.

A new overall traffic plan also will be implemented and a new company has been hired to help handle getting cars directed to the correct parking lots. Smith said the company hired to do the job last year promised to deliver 300 workers on the day of the Cup race, but only 84 showed up.

The speedway also is expanding and enhancing campsites around the track. All in all, Simendinger said 336 acres have been added or repurposed to help make the overall fan experience -- but most specifically the experience of getting in and out of the track -- much improved.

"We're committed to making this one of America's great race tracks. We've spent north of $80 million in improvements over the last three years," he said.

Smith added: "We're readying Kentucky Speedway for a larger crowd in 2012 than we had in 2011."