Tag:Kentucky Speedway
Posted on: October 14, 2011 5:02 pm

Kentucky to host five NASCAR races in 2012

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

SPARTA, Ky. – Kentucky Speedway announces its 2012 schedule will feature five NASCAR-sanctioned events highlighted by the return of the Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) “Quaker State 400” in June and the addition of a second 300-mile Nationwide Series (NNS) race in September.

The “Quaker State 400” is slotted one week earlier on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule on Saturday, June 30. The second series event in track history will serve as the finale to a tripleheader weekend that also includes the NNS “Feed The Children 300” on Friday, June 29 and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) “UNOH 225” on Thursday, June 28.

The newly-awarded, Saturday, Sept. 22 NNS race will close out the speedway’s fall weekend that opens with a 225-mile NCWTS event on Friday, Sept. 21. 

“The ‘Quaker State 400’ weekend again promises to be our region’s biggest summer event when our inaugural race winner Kyle Busch defends his title against a field of the best and brightest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars.     

“NASCAR’s decision to award us a second Nationwide Series date is very gratifying and an important endorsement as we continue to develop Kentucky Speedway. Already the nation’s second most popular series by a wide margin, the Nationwide Series is poised to grow in popularity next season when drivers Austin Dillon and Danica Patrick begin their full-time quests for the championship. Our fans have always enthusiastically supported the series and I can’t think of a better year to add a return date.

“While we were unable to come to terms to bring the IZOD IndyCar Series to our venue in 2012, we have enjoyed our partnership with its drivers and executives. We wish them well,” Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.   

Fans visiting the speedway next season will be able to utilize a newly-acquired, 140-acre free parking field immediately east of the facility and a 42-foot wide pedestrian tunnel that will connect the new parking area to speedway tram stops. Patrons will access the new parking area from a widened state Highway 35 off of an expanded Interstate 71 Exit 57 ramp.   

Current speedway season ticket holders and season campsite holders can renew their tickets and campsites or expand their orders beginning Friday, Oct. 21. Season ticket and camping plans will be offered to the public beginning Monday, Nov. 14.

Kentucky Speedway season ticket pricing will not increase in 2012. Season tickets will be offered on seven price levels starting at $169, allowing fans to enjoy all five NASCAR events at the track for as little as $34 a race. Season ticket pricing reflects a significant discount off individual event ticket prices and plans offer a variety of amenities such as the option to purchase with three interest-free installments.


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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: August 30, 2011 11:09 am

NASCAR applauds Kentucky plan

Posted by Pete Pistone

NASCAR released a statement Tuesday morning in response to Kentucky Speedway's announcement of how the track will address the parking and traffic problems that plagues last month's Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup Series race:

Statement from NASCAR President Mike Helton regarding today's announcement at Kentucky Speedway:

“NASCAR is pleased with the efforts announced today by Kentucky Speedway, Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) and the Commonwealth of Kentucky to address the traffic and parking issues faced by fans at their inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this year.  We’ve been in close touch with the track and its management since July and the significant commitments announced today support the common goal of hosting the most successful events possible at Kentucky Speedway next season.  We believe improvements like these are necessary in order to ensure that our fans have the opportunity for an enjoyable race experience. We appreciate these efforts and will continue to monitor the progress that is being made.”


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Posted on: August 30, 2011 11:06 am

Kentucky addresses parking issues

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

SPARTA, Ky. – Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI) announces the acquisition of a 143-acre parcel of land that will be used to greatly expand Kentucky Speedway parking and the hiring of professional parking and engineering services to best manage automotive and pedestrian traffic flows during venue event days.

Because of the actions taken by the Speedway, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) pledged to improve surrounding highways to allow faster access to expanded parking areas. 

“We learned meaningful lessons during our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend and we committed that the traffic congestion that occurred on race day would not happen again. It was important for us to act quickly and I am thrilled to report this solution, which was formed in only seven short weeks. I compliment and thank SMI Chairman and CEO Bruton Smith, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and KYTC Sec. Mike Hancock for working collaboratively on this plan,” Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.   

The expansive parcel located east of the 107,000 capacity facility and state Highway 35 is expected to increase available event parking by 35 percent. The speedway will further improve its parking operation by reinforcing all areas with gravel and painting guidelines to help maximize available space. 

Veteran’s Security and Patrol Co., which has extensive experience managing parking during events at prominent motorsports venues such as Daytona International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Watkins Glen International, will begin servicing the speedway in October. Kentucky Speedway will additionally retain the services of a traffic engineering company that will employ sophisticated modeling techniques to assimilate the new improvements with existing infrastructure to create the best possible traffic management plan. 

SMI will invest an estimated $7.5 million in its service and parking improvements. The company has already begun engineering the newly-acquired land.   

“Kentucky Speedway is a premier destination for the country’s best racing, and it’s clear that tens of thousands of people want to be right here to experience those events. The NASCAR race weekend this July was a huge success, but it did experience traffic problems, caused largely by inadequate parking,” said Gov. Beshear.  “To assure visitors have an even better experience next year, we’ve worked hand in hand with SMI to plan improvements that will benefit fans on race day and Gallatin County residents year-round.” 

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) complemented the SMI commitments by approving several enhancements to existing infrastructure that will assist in moving traffic more quickly during future race events. Enhancements will:

· Improve the Interstate 71 Exit 57 southbound ramp shoulder to allow three lanes of traffic to exit to KY 35 and directly access staggered speedway entrances during event days;

· Improve nearly one mile of KY 35 from the I-71 interchange. Approximately 0.6 of a mile of KY 35 will be widened to five lanes with two full width shoulders to better service two primary speedway access roads and improve daily traffic flow to Warsaw;

· Construct a tunnel beneath state KY 35 to safely and efficiently route pedestrian traffic to shuttles which transport fans to speedway gates. 

The Cabinet will support the $3.6 million project with its contingency fund, and plans to present the project for bid by the end of 2011 to ensure work will be complete before the summer of 2012.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 15, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 11:34 am

Mike Helton discusses Kentucky issues


THE MODERATOR:  Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  As most of you are aware, there's been a lot of discussion over the last week about last week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway.  In an effort to address the situation early and get ahead of it and focus on the racing here this weekend, we'd like to welcome NASCAR president Mike Helton who will make a few opening remarks and then we'll take some questions from the media.           

I'll turn it over to Mike Helton.           

MIKE HELTON:  Thank you.           

I want to make sure that it doesn't get lost in all this talk about traffic.  We were very pleased and excited about the overall support that fans showed the inaugural Sprint Cup race in Kentucky last week.  It was impressive.  Don't want that to get overshadowed.           

We wanted to address this topic early today and assure folks that as we go through the balance of the season, particularly starting with this weekend in New Hampshire, that this topic doesn't get lost in the shuffle.           

We take what happened last weekend very seriously.  Immediately conversations opened up between NASCAR, the track, Speedway Motorsports, from the highest of levels on the NASCAR side and the highest of levels on Speedway Motorsports side, Jim France, Brian France, Lisa Kennedy, Bruton Smith, Marcus, everybody is engaged in this topic.  The intent is to find out exactly what happened so that a cure or fix can be determined.  We will not rest until we have figured that out.           

As you know, we're in that time of year when we are working on the next season's calendar, so the timing of this is very important.           

It was very unfortunate that it happened.  We're sorry for the fans that were touched by that unfortunate episode.  We will not let this fall to the wayside until we get resolution to it.           

So with that, we'll open it up for questions.            

Q.  What role does NASCAR play in making sure everything is okay at a track?  Did you see this coming at all?           

MIKE HELTON:  Well, NASCAR is unique to other sports in that the NASCAR model works by the independent relationships between NASCAR as a sanctioning body, the tracks as the hosts of the events, and the teams and drivers being the competitors.  We all work together to put the events and the season on.  There's responsibility in each group's world that needs to happen correctly to make the events go smoothly.           

In advance of the inaugural Sprint Cup race in Kentucky, there were a lot of meetings at the racetrack, inside the organizations, but even with the racetrack and with NASCAR in preparation for the inaugural Sprint Cup race.           

I'll remind everybody that NASCAR had been racing at Kentucky Motor Speedway for several years with Nationwide and Truck, so it's not like a brand-new construction or a brand-new location in general, but it was the inaugural Sprint Cup race, which in some regards takes it to a different level.  There were a lot of planning meetings, a lot of sessions that took place.           

Our role in those is to have dialogue and have some types of assurances that the promotors of the event are experienced and are on the right track.          

When Speedway Motorsports bought Kentucky Motor Speedway, obviously that facility inherited a lot of experience.  Speedway Motorsports has a lot of experience promoting races and has shown over the history that they have the ability to host Cup races.  The planning for this inaugural event there tracked true to the course.           

What was happening was a lot of construction, a lot of new work, some of which took place after the ownership change before we went back for Nationwide and Truck races last year.  But a lot happened between last races and this inaugural race for the Sprint Cup.  We tracked those along the way.           

That kind of is a reliance by the NASCAR community on the promotor to host the events.  There was a lot of planning that was exhibited to us and to fans.  I know on one trip up there myself, in the lobby of the office complex, there was material there that showed very well thought out, very nice, presentable piece, full color page of the traffic ingress, and then there was another page of traffic egress that was, according to the track folks, being mailed to the ticket buyers and was available to everybody to pick up.           

I think part of what we want to know now is, was that plan followed correctly or what might have interfered with the preparation that went into the event that caused what happened.            

Q.  You mentioned that you had seen the traffic plan that was available.  What about the parking situation there?  Any early indications that that might have been the primary culprit?  Any theories of what might have been the main cause of what happened?           

MIKE HELTON:  Well, I don't want to jump ahead of us finding out the facts and speculate.           

What we do know, and I think it was obvious to everybody, there was a lot of work done at the racetrack prior to the Cup race moving in last weekend, not just on the racing surface, but in the parking lots.  There was a lot of earth being moved out there in preparation to accommodate the Sprint Cup weekend.           

How all that came together last Friday and Saturday is what we have an interest in finding out.            

Q.  You talk about this as the time where you're talking about sanctions for next year.  Are you confident that Kentucky will have a Cup race next year or is that in question?           

MIKE HELTON:  I don't want to speculate on that type of thing.  I can't help but think, you look at the history of our sport, we've had issues that happen, and we generally figure out how to work through them.           

I think what we're after right now is to figure out what happened in Sparta and figure out what the cure is for it.  Outside of that, I don't have an opinion at this point.  But we're working toward a resolution.            

Q.  Mike, several people have proffered explanations or comparisons, talking about the first race at Texas and so forth.  Is it fair to say that what transpired at Kentucky last weekend went beyond opening-night snafus?  Was it a bigger deal than something related to somebody's first event?  Seemed a little bit more widespread.           

MIKE HELTON:  Well, I try not to offer opinions or speculate.  There's two things.  One is we have had inaugural occurrences, like Texas and Vegas and others, that I wouldn't define as acceptable, but we have had them as experience.           

The other point is that this was not our first race at Kentucky Motor Speedway.  We have had several years of Nationwide and Truck races there.  I grant you the physical layout of the surrounding area outside the racetrack was under significant changes.           

So what I think we have an interest in is in finding out exactly what happened Saturday night, did all those changes contribute to that and did it really maybe compound the situation.  Was there overconfidence from the fact they had raced there for 10 years and not taken in full consideration of the physical changes that were taking place.  Those are the kind of questions we'll have to get to the bottom of to figure out the solution.            

Q.  At the halfway point in the season, could you talk about competition, and with respect to your decision to go to the wild card this year, how happy you are with that decision.           

MIKE HELTON:  I think we like what we see.  I think we like the energy or emphasis around what the wild card has placed on winning, and the caveat that winning races may apply when it gets closer to setting the Chase because of the wild card factor.  I think that's all developing into an interesting story.            

Q.  This is about fan expectations and experience.  It's not analogous to Indy's tire issues.  But when fans get disappointed, we've seen a drop-off of attendance at Indy that may or may not be related to the tire issues of a couple years back.  How much influence does NASCAR have on the tracks to make sure the fans are satisfied, whether it be a refund, other tickets, to make sure the fans keep coming back?          

MIKE HELTON:  Well, I think we all - when I say 'we all' I'm talking about NASCAR, teams, tracks - we all work together in a unified goal of delivering a very appealing product for fans.  On occasion you have interruptions to that.  I think the interruptions are all unique as to what impact they may have.  But I know that we all work on a common goal of making the experience for race fans and the appealing part of what we do for race fans paramount.           

Along the way, we have hiccups.  But then we need to collectively get together and figure it out so we can press on.            

Q.  This is a political issue in Kentucky, too.  Have you talked to the governor or politicians?  It's a black eye on Kentucky as well as NASCAR.           

MIKE HELTON:  I've not had any conversations with any public officials since the Saturday afternoon.            

Q.  Mike, here in the coming days there are a couple drivers who are going to be in court, Kyle Busch over a speeding situation, and Mike Annett over his situation in February.  I know with Kyle NASCAR didn't do anything, and with Mike you set him on probation, have him evaluated by a certified substance abuse professional.  Based on what happens when those cases are closed, would NASCAR look at any additional penalties or does NASCAR see these cases closed in its mind?           

MIKE HELTON:  I would say that we'll have to watch and see how things unfold and see if it does translate into what we do.           

But I'd also remind everybody, I think it's important for NASCAR to recognize its authority as a sports sanctioning body.  We're not a local or state vehicular regulatory body.  We're a sports league sanctioning body.           

Now, I'm not saying that those two wouldn't ever overlap.  But I think what we try to do is be very respectful of the fact that our realm is regulating - our realm of responsibility - NASCAR as a sport and letting the proper jurisdictions regulate everything outside the sport.           

On occasion they overlap, but it's rare.  On occasion they could overlap, and that's when we would have to consider what we have to do.            

Q.  The NFL certainly has done some things like that where they've taken a look at off-field penalties and penalized guys.  Because it's a contractor situation, does that make it different for NASCAR?  The NFL started to do this.  Why doesn't NASCAR step in a little bit more on stuff like that?  Does that make sense?           

MIKE HELTON:  I think so.  Let me see if this answers that.           

I think every sporting body from amateur, professional, Olympics, whatever, has to look at its own set of circumstances, its own particulars, and react accordingly.  There is a difference between us and football, basketball and baseball where the league and the participants in the league are closely knitted together with different contractual relationship.  Our stakeholders are very independent.  That has to be considered in the final decision.           

I think each league has to look at its actions and its reactions and try to decide which ones are the most proper ones to take.             

Q.  Back to Kentucky for a second.  Obviously the problems with the traffic and parking.  What kind of public transportation options were there?  What do you think might be the future of public transportation for that venue?           

MIKE HELTON:  I couldn't sit here and tell you today exactly what was available for that venue.  I think some of that will come out as we ask questions of the facility.           

As to what might be available going forward, our reliance is on the track to figure those things out because they're the host of the event.  If that's part of the answer, then I suspect that we'll figure that out.  But I couldn't sit here today and tell you what was available or what might be available.           

Q.  You have one other event at Kentucky coming up later this fall along with the Truck race with the IndyCar.  Will you be paying any attention?  Are there things you think they may implement or test perhaps that weekend that you'll be keeping an eye on?           

MIKE HELTON:  I think it's a good opportunity to try stuff.            

Q.  Curious how you feel like the 'boys have at it'  policy has been going the first half of the season.  Seemed after the Harvick-Busch episode there are lots of drivers with questions about what's okay and what's not.  I was curious if you clarified a lot of that with the drivers and how you think the policy is going in general.           

MIKE HELTON:  I think the policy is being probably defined every time something happens and the community sees our reaction to it.  So it's a never-ending process of defining what all that means.           

I think the intent a couple years ago, actually three years ago, was to tell the competitors we were going to give back more of what they do, particularly on the racetrack, back in their hands, with limits obviously to it.           

I think a lot of that comes from us doing our own internal look and maybe feeling like we were too regulatory on some areas.  We still have a responsibility to maintain law and order, and we take that very seriously.           

In the meantime, I think what's happened over the course of the last couple years is every time something happens and we react to it, the defines a little bit more what we meant by them having more responsibility.  That will go on.           

The other thing I'd like to mention is over the course of the history of NASCAR we've seen cycles of almost every type of topic you can imagine.  But when it comes to the conflicts on the racetrack, every weekend there's 42 guys that want to beat the other 42 guys.  So that's an inherent rivalry in our sport.           

When it becomes maybe more personal between a couple of them, we watch that and we let it play itself out.  We don't necessarily encourage it.  What we do encourage is them being racecar drivers on the racetrack and not worrying about looking over their shoulder at us.           

That's the environment that I think we were after when we talked about this.  I think that's the environment we've got right now.            

Q.  To what extent does NASCAR try to regulate rivalries in this sport?  You've seen things spill over from the track into the garage area.  To what extent do you feel that needs regulation?           

MIKE HELTON:  Well, I think our actions answer that question when something goes beyond what happens on a racetrack, whether it's on pit road or in a garage area.  Then our reactions to those I think speak for themselves.           

Again, I reiterate that what we're after is to encourage the drivers to be drivers on the racetrack and let their own character prevail, while at the same time understanding our responsibility to maintain a reasonable law and order in the environment around the racetrack.           

I think our actions kind of answer that, I hope.            

Q.  There's been some sense among the national media and fans that NASCAR is picking up steam in ratings.  How much does the glitch at Kentucky affect that just when everything was starting to roll in a positive direction?  How much impact do you think it will have?           

MIKE HELTON:  Well, I'd like to think that we overcome the glitch in Kentucky and that what happened on the racetrack in Kentucky, the teams and the drivers delivered on their end, and they will this weekend.  So we go on.           

We certainly take what happened on the highways trying to get into Kentucky as a very serious issue that we intend to correct.  But I think what's happening on the racetrack helps us maintain that momentum that you speak of.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 12, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:21 pm

Idle Thoughts: Kentucky fiasco tough to overcome

By Pete Pistone

Thirty-two years ago tonight one of the sports world’s most infamous events took place on the south side of Chicago. 

“Disco Demolition,” a local radio promotion held between games of a White Sox-Tigers doubleheader, encouraged fans to bring their disco albums and records to the historic old ballpark to be blown up in a ceremony overseen by popular local disc jockey Steve Dahl. 

Team management hoped for a crowd of 12,000 but instead a raucous turnout of more than 90,000 converged on the stadium literally overrunning the area. By the time Dahl got around to blowing up the pile of records that were accumulated in center field, the affair turned ugly with fans running onto the field and tearing up sod, bases and even seats. 

The mess caused Major League Baseball to call off the second game due to unsafe playing conditions and the White Sox were forced to forfeit the game in a night that has left an ugly stain on the franchise to this day. 

NASCAR had its version of “Disco Demolition” Saturday night in Kentucky and like the baseball edition; the debacle has given the sport a black eye that won’t be forgotten any time soon. 

What was supposed to be Kentucky Speedway’s long awaited moment in the sun for its inaugural Sprint Cup Series race was a disaster with traffic nightmares, parking problems, empty concession stands and limited bathroom facilities just a few of the inconveniences the crowd of 110,000 had to contend with over the weekend. 

Simply put the track was not prepared to host an event - or crowd - the size of what showed up on Saturday.

To compound matters the slow response to the disaster and perceived arrogance by Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Bruton Smith, who pointed the finger at local government for not providing necessary infrastructure and support, has not done much in the way to appease fans or help the overall image of the sport. 

And before the track finally did release an official apology as well as plan to give replacement tickets to fans at future SMI races or next year’s Quaker State 400, other speedway operators jumped into the fray. 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, less than a two-hour drive from Kentucky, offered disgruntled fans a discount on seats for its upcoming Brickyard 400. Talladega Superspeedway communicated to fans that the track was more than well prepared to handle the 100,000 expected to attend this October’s Sprint Cup race. 

And Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis distributed a passionate letter to fans saying he was “saddened and embarrassed” by what happened at Kentucky and ensuring customers would be treated right at the upcoming August weekend in the Irish Hills. 

If you get a sense that perhaps there isn’t any love lost between Kentucky and some other track’s management teams you’re probably right. 

NASCAR’s insistence to not award a Sprint Cup date to Kentucky when the track was first built ten years ago was due in large part to the sanctioning body’s assessment of a potential oversaturation problem in the area. Michigan, Indianapolis, Chicago, Bristol and even Talladega are within relative close proximity to the Sparta, Kentucky facility and in NASCAR’s mind a Cup date would possibly cannibalize ticket sales from tracks already on the schedule. 

However it became a moot point when SMI purchased Kentucky and petitioned NASCAR through its realignment policy to move a date from Atlanta. 

On paper the decision was a winner for SMI, at least in the short term, as the 110,000 tickets sold for the inaugural race eclipsed what Atlanta’s last March race drew by about 35,000. But those 110k had to come from somewhere and certainly there’s a real possibility more than a few came at the expense of Indy, MIS, Bristol and others. 

So perhaps Kentucky’s failure on Saturday night struck a chord with other track officials who didn’t appreciate the potential of their ticket sales being siphoned off coupled with the souring of fans, who may now choose simply to not attend any NASCAR race for fear of a similarly bad experience. 

But is the sniping among peers really the best way to put the situation behind and help move the sport back into a better light?  I’m not sure NASCAR meant for its “Boys Have at It” mandate to spill over and include track operators. 

There are thousands of fans who are trying to decide if putting a NASCAR race on their social calendar is a worthwhile option for their already in short supply dollars. At this point the sport needs all the support it can get from inside the industry to put this embarrassment as far in the rear view mirror as possible. 

The reputation of “Disco Demolition” continues to live on more than three decades later. It remains to be seen whether the Kentucky fiasco is forever the track’s legacy or if over time it can be repaired and forgotten. 

Odds are it’s going to be a long road to recovery. 

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Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:15 am
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Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:27 pm

Indianapolis ticket offer for Kentucky fans

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which has provided great fan experiences for the largest auto racing crowds in the world for 100 years, is offering special Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records.com promotions worth up to $50 for ticket holders from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race July 9 at Kentucky Speedway.

Fans who present a ticket from the Kentucky Sprint Cup race at the IMS gate will receive one free admission to Brickyard 400 practice Friday, July 29 or will be admitted to Brickyard 400 qualifying Saturday, July 30 for just $5.

Fans holding tickets from the July 9 race at Kentucky also can park for free Friday and Saturday at IMS Lots 1, 2 and 3, conveniently located on the south, west and north sides of the iconic facility. The regular price is $10 per day to park in those lots.

"As an urban track, we offer a fan experience inside a vibrant city that provides restaurants, nightlife, cultural activities and top-rated hotels in addition to the history and tradition of 100 years of racing at Indianapolis," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO. "We have easy, efficient access to and from the track that allows our fans to participate in activities at the track and, in just a matter of minutes, enjoy all that the city of Indianapolis has to offer or be well on the road toward home or the hotel."

Activity Saturday at IMS includes Brickfest, a new fan feature similar to Miller Lite Carb Day at the Indianapolis 500. The main attraction of Brickfest is a concert by hard rock superstars Hinder following qualifications, with vintage stock car displays and more also available.

Fans can redeem their Kentucky Sprint Cup race tickets for this promotion at remote IMS ticket trailers located at Gates 3, 6, 9 and 10A, conveniently located near the parking lots in which these fans can park for free. Kentucky race tickets also can be redeemed at the Ticket Office in the IMS Administration Building on the corner of Georgetown Road and 16<sup>th</sup> Street, just outside Turn 1 of the famous oval.

In addition, Brickyard 400 fans can receive a $10 discount on weekend Track Scan scanner and headset rentals through a co-promotion between IMS and Track Scan. Rental coupons can be found at www.track-scan.com.

"The Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records.com is an exciting event offering something for everyone, and it has been one of the most prestigious races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule since the inaugural in 1994," Belskus said. "We look forward to providing IMS fans, and Kentucky customers who still need a NASCAR fix, a great experience they will talk about all year."

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Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:26 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:28 pm

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Roger Curtis, Michigan International Speedway, issued a relase Monday afternoon in regards to the traffic debacle for the inaugural Sprint Cup race. He pulled no punches and was quite harsh toward Kentucky Speedway officials.

Here's his message in its entirety:

The fan experience should be Priority No. 1

By Roger Curtis, president, Michigan International Speedway

What should have been a shining moment for the sport of NASCAR and all the racetracks, especially those in the Midwest, has sadly, potentially, put all of us back several steps – maybe even years.

A sellout NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway should have signaled the continuation of great things for race fans in the Midwest and for our sport.

Unfortunately Saturday’ night’s events became an exercise in blame and unpreparedness – and race fans, corporate partners, media and drivers were caught in the middle.

As a track promoter I am saddened and embarrassed about what happened this weekend. To think all the hard work that we’ve done here at Michigan International Speedway and other tracks have done could be so quickly erased by Saturday’s events. That speedway, having been open for racing since 2000, should have known the challenges it would face when it tripled in size.

Just to be clear: This isn’t about kicking a race track when it’s down. We all make mistakes and MIS has certainly had past issues with traffic.

And it isn’t about trying to sway a Kentucky Speedway ticketholder to come to Michigan – though we will be happy to treat them the way they should be treated should they want to give us a chance.

It’s about apologizing and doing what’s right when you are clearly in the wrong. It is about having your priorities right in the first place – on the fan experience.

That’s why I’m upset.

It is bad enough the racetrack went into the weekend knowing traffic was going to be worse than they had previously had with other series. But to think Bruton Smith made light of it with the media, and then pointed the finger at the State of Kentucky when posed with traffic questions is unfathomable.

We work tirelessly with our legislators and local officials to ensure traffic moves efficiently and safely. We collaborate with local communities, our state, public safety officials and first-responders to ensure an event at Michigan International Speedway is a true public-private partnership; and not a business threatening to hold its region hostage to meet our demands.

It appears the mentality at some other racetracks today is to see how much money they can make off a fan. Their line of thinking is to ban coolers, have fire sales on last-minute tickets, build, build, build without thinking, thinking, thinking, and blame others for their mistakes.

Don’t get me wrong: We are not perfect. But we listen to our fans, we recognize our shortcomings and we try to overcome them so race fans don’t feel the burden. Most importantly, we learn from them so those mistakes don’t happen again.

Michigan International Speedway is sincere when we say we want to do things for our fans to grow our business. That’s why we lowered ticket prices for all our loyal fans, why we launched a Fan Appreciation program, why we have a Fan Advisory Board, why we allow larger coolers in the grandstands, why parking is always free and plenty, why we have invested more than $60 million in our facility the past four years, why we continue to work with the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan State Police to manage race-day traffic and why we have real race fans give a Fans’ Trophy to the winning driver in Victory Lane.

We try really hard to educate our fans on traffic and our facility, have a system of feedback and information sharing with all our guests, and we listen to our guests about changes we need to make to grow our business. Fans are our bottom line.

On behalf of the MIS staff, I apologize to all the race fans whose expectations were not met this weekend, but also to those who read all the stories and were taken back by the treatment other people received.

That is not how we do business at our racetrack – and it’s certainly not indicative of how every track operates. I hope fans recognize this and realize the vast majority in this great sport (not just tracks, but NASCAR officials, drivers and owners, as well) are working hard for the fans and do have their priorities right.

We do not take our guests for granted and we pledge to do everything we can every day to make your experience at MIS the best it can be.

We won’t undercut our loyal customers with a knee-jerk ticket offer to make up for what happened on Saturday. But we will match what our loyal customers received by offering any race fan who has not had their expectations met at any racetrack with our lowest ticket price of the season for seats in Turns 1 and 3. Send us your race ticket and you can purchase a reserved ticket for $45 for the August 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

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Roger Curtis, the president of Michigan International Speedway, is a 20-year veteran of motorsports administration. Before his time at MIS, Curtis was at Auto Club Speedway in California, Richmond International Raceway and Watkins Glen International in New York.  

Involved in motorsports since 1991, he has owned his own motorsports marketing and communications company and has worked with Bobby Allison Motorsports, Bill Davis Racing and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Bobby Dotter.

He’s a NASCAR fan and counts family time, the outdoors, music and cooking among his many interests.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com