|Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images|
But problems plagued Kentucky Speedway for their first long-awaited NASCAR Sprint Cup date, a date that took a long time to secure in the first place.
Ground broke to create Kentucky Speedway in 1998 in Sparta, Kentucky. The track was the brainchild of Jerry Carroll and four other investors who saw the promise of a track in that location.
The four turn 1.5 mile tri-oval was to open in 2000 with an ARCA race. Shortly thereafter it was announced the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series would promote a race following the ARCA race.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was the next to enter the fray for holding an event at Kentucky Speedway. ARCA added a second race to the 2000 season.
By August 2000 the announcement came that the Busch Series would run a race at Kentucky Speedway in 2001.
Tragedy occurred at the track in 2002 when popular television star-turned racer Jason Priestly had an accident that saw him suffer a string of injuries that were career-ending for his racing.
The next mar on Kentucky Speedway was the lawsuit filed against NASCAR stating antitrust laws were violated because of restricting the awarding of Cup series events. The judge saw things differently dismissing the claims against NASCAR and stating Kentucky Speedway had not proven their case against NASCAR.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) now owns Kentucky Speedway. The venue received its first NASCAR Sprint Cup date in 2011. With the date seating capacity was increased at the track to 107,000.
Problems abounded during race weekend last year at Kentucky Speedway. The Quaker State 400 was sold out in its inaugural run but it seemed no one thought about the influx of Cup fans and traffic would do to the area.
Consequently, traffic leading to the track was at a standstill leading to legions of fans, some 20,000 people, unable to get to the race. When the race reached halfway and still ticket-holders had not yet gotten to the speedway, they were asked to simply turn around and go home so exiting fans at the conclusion of the race would not be mired in even more traffic.
From lack of food to adequate restroom arrangements, the logistics of the event left much to be desired. The race itself saw pole sitter Kyle Busch dominate and take the checkered flag.
Kentucky Speedway and SMI took a beating in the media and among NASCAR fans for the fiasco that was the Quaker State 400, but planning for 2012 kicked into high gear immediately.
More land has been secured for parking at the track. In addition, Kentucky Speedway has been working in conjunction with the Kentucky state government to alleviate traffic problems during Cup race weekends.
Now that much has been learned over the last year, Kentucky Speedway is once again on my list of venues to attend. Surely these same problems will be eliminated and the story can be solely about the racing and not the conditions surrounding the track itself.
Having the new and improved Kentucky Speedway on the circuit is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.
Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.