Speedway Motorsports Inc. has announced plans to purchase the Kentucky Speedway for $78.3 million, with the promise of bringing a NASCAR Sprint Cup race to the track in the near future.
While a NASCAR spokesman has said it is too late in the year to consider the Sparta track for a 2009 Sprint Cup race, Speedway founder Jerry Carroll and Gov. Steve Beshear say they remain hopeful that such a deal will be worked out. In the days following the acquisition announcement, Beshear traveled to North Carolina to meet with SMI CEO Bruton Smith and discuss the specifics of bringing a Sprint Cup race to Kentucky. Estimates indicate that a Sprint Cup race could have an economic impact of up to $200 million per year.
The Kentucky Speedway opened in 2000, built at a cost of some $152 million. The track currently hosts one NASCAR Nationwide Series event, one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event, and one IndyCar Series event as well as other racing events.
Situated on approximately 820 acres in Gallatin County, the Kentucky Speedway features a 1.5-mile tri-oval speedway, with seating for 66,089 spectators; 50 luxury suites with seats for approximately 2,000; 100 private RV spaces; 200 reserved camping spaces and 1,000 unreserved camping spaces. While SMI CEO Bruton Smith said the facility would need to add some 50,000 more seats to accommodate a Sprint Cup race, he noted that project would take only a few months to complete.
Under the ownership of Speedway Motorsports, the Kentucky Speedway becomes one of eight SMI facilities. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2008.