TRUMBULL COUNTY Building a track doesn't guarantee a spot in NASCAR, official warns
Tracks face stiff competition to land the big races.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- First they would have to build it. Then NASCAR might come.
The sanctioning body for big-league stock car racing will not consider bringing an event to the indoor racetrack proposed for Trumbull County until after the facility is built, said Susan Goodrich, a NASCAR spokeswoman.
Then, the racetrack operator might have to get in line for a spot on the top racing circuit.
"Winston Cup is very much in demand," she said. "There is a waiting list."
Although NASCAR has other racing divisions, the Winston Cup Series is its premier competition.
Trumbull and Mahoning counties have each chipped in $30,000 to study the possibility of building an indoor track proposed by West Virginia developer Bob Brant.
His company, Brant Motorsports, began considering this area after plans to build a $400 million track near Pittsburgh International Airport were sidelined by funding and regulatory problems, and by the death of Brant's brother and business partner, Ted.
Key question: "The key with building a racetrack is, will you get a race," said David Talley, spokesman for International Speedway Corp., a publicly traded company that owns 13 tracks across the country.
Winston Cup races typically draw spectators from a 300-mile radius for four days of speed trials and races, Talley said.
There are already Winston Cup events planned for 36 of the 52 weekends in the year, he said.
"You have to have some weekends off too, so the teams can rest, so they can travel," he said. "The schedule is quite full right now," he said.
Within NASCAR, a sport that has its roots in rural America, expansion is targeted toward major markets, he said.
Recently built tracks in Chicago and Kansas City have been successful in attracting Winston Cup races, he said.
Because races take place all over the country, an indoor racetrack would not necessarily be a shoo-in for a winter event, Goodrich said.
"It is always spring or fall somewhere," she said. "I'm sure an indoor racetrack would be desirable, but, then again, it would be up to the organization to talk to the track owner and negotiate."
And those discussions would not begin until the track is complete, she said.
Pay a fee: Racetracks pay NASCAR a sanctioning fee to stage events.
As well as the Winston Cup series, NASCAR sanctions two lower-profile leagues.
There is less competition for spots on the Bush Series or Craftsman Truck Series circuits, she said.
In addition, International Speedway tracks rely on races sanctioned by other automotive sports bodies such as CART, IROC, ARCA and IRL, with different types of cars, to fill the stands between major NASCAR events, Talley said.
Many tracks also hire themselves out for filming commercials or as test tracks, he said.