By admin | July 10, 2011
By Richard Allen
For a sport in need of an enthusiastic sellout crowd and a great deal of positive buzz leading into an event, the inaugural trip for the Sprint Cup Series to the Kentucky Speedway seemed to be like a dream come true for NASCAR. Unfortunately for all involved, the reality proved to be more like a nightmare than a dream.
The track announced in the week leading up to the Quaker State 400 that the event was indeed a sellout. Those have been few and far between for this sport of late.
However, the weekend began to sour early on. Friday nightâ€™s Nationwide Series race revealed a potentially serious problem leading into the next dayâ€™s main event. At the time for the green flag to drop on Friday, many fans sat idle in their cars on Interstate 71 outside the track.
Fans planning to return for the Sprint Cup race on Saturday were advised to plan on an early arrival. But early proved to be a relative term as many fans, via the Twitter social networking site, described journeys that under normal circumstances would take only a few minutes but were taking four and five hours on race day.
Speedway Motorsports, Inc. bought the Kentucky Speedway in 2008 and began working toward a Cup date for the track, a mission the facilityâ€™s previous owners had failed to accomplish after years of trying.
SMI Chairman O. Bruton Smith joked in a Friday press conference that he â€œhoped to get fans out by Tuesdayâ€ when asked about traffic concerns. Turned out, getting them in was every bit as much a problem as getting them out.
Now keep in mind that moving such a great number of people is never an easy task. However, as both nights wore on, it became clear that the track was not equipped for events of such scale. A number of fans were turned away from the venue after finally arriving, after the race was well underway, due to a lack of parking space.
Once the race finally ended, getting out proved to be as much a hassle as getting in had been. Again on Twitter, pictures of seemingly unending strings of tail lights and horror stories of long delays were prevalent.
And more, fans had been told in advance that they would not be allowed to bring coolers into the facility due to a Kentucky state law, an issue that did not go over well with fans in the summer heat. It has since been reported that there was no such cooler law, but instead, a law that pertained only to alcoholic beverages.
And with all of the above stated, the weekend could have still been counted as somewhat of a success had the racing been entertaining. Unfortunately, it was not. The Nationwide race was dominated by Cup drivers in what turned into a fuel mileage coast rather than a charge to the finish line.
In the Cup race itself even drivers Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon admitted that the racing was less than spectacular. Cars spaced apart and paraded around the 1.5 mile â€˜cookie cutterâ€™ track for lap after lap until a late caution flag bunched them for a three lap sprint to the end, eventually won by Kyle Busch.
All in all, this weekend was a nightmare. One that could have been avoided with better planning.
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