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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kentucky Issues May Just Have Ruined That Race Forever

Opinion:


It was the inaugural race at Kentucky Speedway - what many fans, drivers and NASCAR personalities such as Darrell Waltrip were very much looking forward to. Excitement was in the air all weekend long, as NASCAR's three top series would take to the track. Everyone seemed to be a winner this weekend, as the local economy flourished because of the event.

Little did anyone know that a major problem would occur, one that would even overshadow the race.

It started early Saturday morning, about eight or nine hours before the race, where reports began to pop up on the Internet, mostly Twitter, were it was made clear traffic was an issue. Even that early before a race, traffic was backed up for miles and miles, with major concerns. There was still however, plenty of time to get to the track.

Soon it became later in the day, and the problem seemed to become more severe. Even drivers, such as Denny Hamlin, were concerned that they wouldn't be able to beat the traffic getting into the racetrack. Hamlin joked that he was going to start in the back anyway, so it was okay if he missed the drivers meeting. Fans however, were not in a joking mood.

Later, it became minutes until the green flag, stands were looking empty, people still in the roads, and Bruton Smith the owner of the speedway, continued to bash the roads nearby.

Smith had made it clear that he is pressuring the governor of Kentucky to allow him better roads and an airport to help the flow of traffic. He joked during the weekend that he hoped everyone would be out of the track area on Tuesday. Perhaps, he wasn't kidding.

When the race eventually did begin, the stands looked fairly healthy, but anyone could easily tell there were some empty seats.

As the race progressed, news came up stating that around 20,000 people missed the race that night. Even worse, there was another report that some people were turned away because of the lack of space.

Not only that, fans hated the race with a burning passion. Racing was less than exciting, and many fans were just mad that there was yet another mile and a half track on the schedule.

Yes, the first race at Kentucky was a terrible way to bring in the next era for the SMI track, but perhaps the real issues are down the road. The speedway may not ever be able to recover.

Look at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the tire debacle a few years ago - they have never been able to bounce back. Seats have been so empty it makes the Sprint Cup race look like a Truck race as far as seating goes. Even a place with such racing history is having ticket sale issues all because of one bad race.

The same may happen to the Kentucky Speedway. There is a good chance it will forever be a track with not so good crowds and little fan appreciation. It may just take itself right off the schedule.

Whether it does or not, that is yet to be seen. We will all have to wait until next year to discover if this will hurt this race. One this is for certain: it certainly didn't help.

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