Speedway taking shape
race set for June 2000
with hopes of five events
in the first year of operation
SPARTA, Ky. (July 1999) The dust cloud hovering
over the massive construction site atop the hill at the Sparta-Warsaw,
Ky., exit on I-71 represents only a preview of the action to come to
this otherwise peaceful farmland.
by Don Ward
continues at a rapid
pace at the $152 million Kentucky
Speedway, located just off the
Sparta-Warsaw, Ky., exit of I-71 in
Gallatin County. Track officials say the
track will be paved in September.
The first race has been set for
June 2000. Many area race fans have
already bought lifetime seats.
Just two miles south down the interstate, heavy equipment
vehicles scurry up and down the hillsides, furrowing out dirt and building
new mounds that will someday be a new I-71 exit and highway connecting
the interstate with the Markland Dam bridge into Indiana.
It wont be long before the sounds of revving race car engines
will roar through these hills.
In fact, by this time next year, the $152 million Kentucky Speedway
in Gallatin County, Ky., will have already held its first race
the Blue Grass Quality Meats 200.
The race will be an Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) event worth
about $350,000 and feature stock cars with less horsepower than their
prestigious Winston Cup circuit cousins.
Track officials hope to stage at least five races next year, beginning
with the June event.
And they have petitioned NASCAR to get four existing races the
Craftsman Truck Series Race (now held in Louisville), an ALLPRO series
event, a Busch Grand National series event and a Goodies Dash Race.
Weve had great weather lately and everythings on schedule,
said Andy Vertrees, director of operations for both the Kentucky Speedway
and Louisville Motor Speedway.
And in anticipation of the tracks completion, Kentucky Speedway
officials are sponsoring Race Fest 99 on July 31.
by Don Ward
Director of Operations
Andy Vertrees of
Buckner, Ky., poses
along the newly
completed inner race
wall. Vertrees built
and operated the
developer Jerry Carroll
bought him out and put
him in charge
The event will feature performances by Nashville country
music stars Sawyer Brown, Aaron Tippin, Brad Paisley and SHeDAISY, along
with appearances by NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip and others.
In addition, there will be a day-long car show, featuring NASCAR, CART
(Championship Auto Racing Teams) and IRL (Indy Racing League) race cars,
show cars, trucks and simulators Food and beverage concessions will
Officials had hoped to hold the festival at the track site. But on June
20, they decided to move the event to Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.
to avoid disturbing the construction and to better deal with inclement
weather, should it occur.
Despite the move, officials say they still expect upwards of 50,000
people. Track developer and co-owner Jerry Carroll, former owner of
Turfway Park, hired engineer Bill Moss and construction manager Frank
Holbert, both of whom built Las Vegas Motor Speedway, to build his speedway.
The two men have capitalized on the finer points of their previous construction
in Nevada and enhanced features that they say will make the Kentucky
Speedway even better for racing fans.
Examples of improved features include a pit area that is closer to the
grandstands, plus an overhead walkway for fans who, for the price of
a pit pass, can view their favorite drivers and crews in action.
Thats going to be one of the most unique aspects of the
facility, Vertrees said.
Already, the site is beginning to look like a race track, despite the
dozens of trucks, bulldozers and heavy equipment vehicles kicking up
clouds of dust.
Workers are putting the finishing touches on the concrete track wall,
which is being coated with a polymer finish that will help absorb impact
from a race car without damaging the walls internal structure.
Vertrees said the 1.5-mile track itself will be paved in September and
topped with a polymer finish that is the latest in asphalt technology.
map shows the layout of the future
Kentucky Speedway. Although fans
wont be allowed into the infield on
race day, they can buy a pit pass that
will give them access to a walkway
over the pit area. The unique feature is
among the many suggestions from
track consultant and NASCAR
dirver Darrell Waltrip.
Currently, there are about 180 workers on the 1,000-acre
job site. By Aug. 1, when the buildings start to go up, the number of
workers will jump to 600.
A concrete grandstand designed to eventually seat 65,000 people is nearly
complete around the northern rim of the track. Across the top of the
grandstand will be a row of corporate luxury suites capable of accommodating
So far, 42 of 50 suites have already been sold at $30,000 a year for
three years. In addition to gate passes, lifetime season tickets
what track officials call personal seat licenses
are being sold at prices ranging from $1,400 to $2,000.
A club membership, meanwhile, will get you into the air conditioned,
glass-enclosed restaurant on the start/finish line for $5,000. So far,
150 of 220 club memberships have been sold.
Behind the back stretch wall will be an area for motor home parking
what Vertrees called the best seat in the house.
In all, officials have sold more than $4 million in personal seat licenses,
But were not going to sell them all out because we want
the average race fan to be able to come to the track on race day and
Additional construction phases include adding a small corporate airport
out back and a section of grandstand seats above the corporate suites,
expanding the total capacity to 120,000 seats and 120 luxury suites
when and if track officials lure the Winston Cup series.
Vertrees, 52, a Louisville native who got racing in his blood early
by racing cars at age 16, bought his first track in Owensboro, Ky.,
and operated it for nine years.
In 1987, he began construction on the Louisville Motor Speedway and
opened it a year later. Carroll bought the speedway from Vertrees last
year and hired Vertrees to manage both tracks.
Jerry Carrolls a neat guy to work for, Vertrees said.
And I think hes got into something here that will really
make him known in the area a lot more than horse racing ever did.
Carroll has also hired NASCARs Waltrip as a consultant on the
project to contribute ideas on making the track driver- and fan-friendly.
The results so far have been to add two crew member lounges, the overhead
pit viewing area, plus a private playground, exercise room, chapel and
outdoor swimming pool to be built in the infield for crew members
A final touch will be a Colonial-style building to house track offices
and souvenir shops near the front gates.
On non-race days, officials plan to provide meeting rooms for local
civic groups and conduct tours to what they say will be a tourist attraction
in its own right.
They expect visitors from all across the country.
These extra touches will make it the finest track in America,
Vertrees said. Its Jerry Carrolls Field of Dreams.
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