Sunday, September 16, 2007
Kentucky Speedway looking at buying Loudon track, moving a Cup race south
By David Newton
LOUDON, N.H. -- Kentucky Speedway officials are interested in buying New Hampshire International Speedway and moving one of the track's two Nextel Cup dates to the Bluegrass state.
Jerry Carroll, the chairman of Kentucky Speedway, visited with NHIS owner Bob Bahre during Sunday's race.
"We love this sport," said Carroll, who first expressed an interest in NHIS two years ago. "We've been trying to do whatever it takes [to get a race to Kentucky Speedway]."
That includes filing a federal anti-trust lawsuit against NASCAR asserting that the governing body and International Speedway conspire to keep events from non-ISC tracks.
Lesa France Kennedy, the sister of NASCAR CEO Brian France, runs ISC along with the NASCAR chief's uncle Jim France.
Carroll said even if he were able to purchase NHIS that wouldn't halt the lawsuit, waiting to go into summary judgment.
"Not at all," he said. "That's what we don't want to get over. That's not even [an option].
My lawyers would kill me if I said that."
Carroll isn't Bahre's only option. John Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox and part-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, has had discussions with the 80-year-old track owner.
"The way he's talking he's probably interested in doing something," Carroll said.
Carroll believes Kentucky deserves a Nextel Cup event, reminding the sold-out crowd of 70,000 for the track's last Busch Series event was as many as the Labor Day Weekend Cup race at California Speedway.
"I'm always the kind of guy if there's a demand for something that's how you create a market," he said. "When that demand starts going away then you don't have a market anymore.
"We know we have the demand. We knew the day we built it."
Among Kentucky Speedway's ambassadors is NBA great Oscar Robertson, who attended Sunday's race with Carroll.
"Somebody came up and was taking a picture with him and said, 'Mr. Jones,'" Carroll said with a laugh. "They thought he was K.C. Jones. He said, 'I'm better than K.C. Jones.'"
And Carroll believes Kentucky Speedway is better than other options -- Denver, Seattle and New York City -- that NASCAR is exploring for another venue.
"What's interesting, when these guys are going around looking at Seattle and all of these other places, we've got the state of Kentucky laid down with $90 million worth of infrastructure," he said.
"We know what's important. The people turn out. They love the racing here."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.