Monday, July 11, 2011

Let us never speak of this again

If you'll excuse me for a few minutes, I'm going to talk about NASCAR and stuff that's local to Louisville.

This past weekend, after years and years of whining and pleading, Kentucky Speedway finally got themselves a real race.   The NASCAR Sprint Cup held its first race in Kentucky, and it was a goat screw.  Not that NASCAR did anything wrong.  If the measure of success of a racing organization is that the race started on time, officiating was impartial and effective, and the race ended with a clear winner, then NASCAR was successful.

The people who run Kentucky Speedway, on the other hand, poked the pooch in a major way.

I'm not a racing fan.  Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it just doesn't trip my trigger.  I've been to Kentucky Speedway for various events a few times and it's been a cluster of massive proportions each and every time.  Parking is a nightmare, there aren't that many hotels or restaurants in the little town of Sparta, and there is exactly one major highway through that area, Interstate 71.  I-71 at that point is a multi-lane highway, but the exits to the speedway are one or two lane.  Guess where the chokepoint for the Speedway is?  If you said "Exits and/or routes to parking", have yourself a cookie from the tray at the back.  Anyone who's ever driven from Louisville to Cincinnati on race day could tell you there was no way that over 100,000 people were going to get through that area in less than 8 hours.

Since there aren't that many hotel rooms convenient to the Speedway, the planners must have known that most people would be driving in.  Here's how I see the high level plan for getting people in and out of the area:

  • Get them on the highway
  • The Lord miraculously increases the throughput and carrying capacity of I-71 and the smaller highways around Sparta by 200%
  • Get them off the highway
  • The loaves and the fishes miracle is recreated, but this time it's "Traffic control and parking spots"
  • Get them out of their cars
  • Get them into the track
  • Fill them with as much beer and fried food as we can while extracting every last penny they brought with them
  • Get them back in their cars
  • Will the Lord never stop showering us with more miracles?  Moses re-appears and parts the Redneck Sea so that everyone can get back on the highway
  • Everyone drives home
  • Go home and count the money
Instead, what happened was that I-71 became even more of a bottleneck at Sparta than it normally is during a race and people sat in their cars for hours trying to get off of the highway and either park or drive home.  Some had the exquisite experience of paying to see the race in person and then listening to it on AM radio from the highway within sight of the track.  

So OK, Kentucky, you had your chance, and you blew it.  You put your NASCAR style speedway way out in the country so that there's no existing infrastructure to support it and you didn't build much around it.  You got NASCAR to sponsor a race, and then you turned I-71 into the biggest parking lot east of the Mississippi.  If you're lucky, NASCAR will allow you to continue to hold minor races for it, but I never want to hear you whine about the big races never coming here again.  


Old NFO said...

Glad I didn't decide to go to that one... My rule is if I can't get home and sleep in my OWN bed, I don't go... :-)

DaddyBear said...

You know, I might watch NASCAR if it was more like what it started out as - souped up muscle cars driven by good old boys like a bat out of hell on windy country roads.

Joshkie said...

DaddyBear -

You don't find high speed left-turning exciting to watch?


Creative Commons License
DaddyBear's Den by DaddyBear is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at