Kentucky to address traffic issues
Date published : 16 Jul 2011 - 08:33:12
NASCAR and Kentucky Speedway owners have vowed to understand and fix the traffic issues that cast a shadow over the inaugural Sprint Cup Series event at the track.Despite the great attendance for the first Cup race at the venue, massive traffic jams before and after the event dampened its success and left both NASCAR and track owner Speedway Motorsports Inc (SMI) under scrutiny from fans.NASCAR president Mike Helton addressed the situation on Friday at Loudon, New Hampshire, and stated that work is already underway to determine the root of the traffic situation and implement plans to prevent a repeat for future events. Both the Nationwide and Truck series had previously staged races at the venue without issues of such magnitude.Helton said NASCAR did continuous follow-up with the track on its planning for the event and mentioned he was presented with a clear plan of how traffic was to be handled on race day. However he questioned whether it was executed correctly last Saturday.He also stated that responsibility on events is shared between all parties - the sanctioning body, the tracks, teams and drivers."We were very pleased and excited about the overall support that fans showed the inaugural Sprint Cup race in Kentucky last week. It was impressive. Don't want that to get overshadowed," said Helton."We take what happened last weekend very seriously. Immediately conversations opened up between NASCAR, the track, Speedway Motorsports, from the highest of levels on the NASCAR side and the highest of levels on Speedway Motorsports side, Jim France, Brian France, Lesa Kennedy, Bruton Smith, Marcus, everybody is engaged in this topic."The intent is to find out exactly what happened so that a cure or fix can be determined. We will not rest until we have figured that out."As you know, we're in that time of year when we are working on the next season's calendar, so the timing of this is very important."It was very unfortunate that it happened. We're sorry for the fans that were touched by that unfortunate episode. We will not let this fall to the wayside until we get resolution to it."Bruton Smith, chairman of track owners SMI believes it was impossible to foresee what transpired last Saturday when many fans were unable to reach the track. He said the overwhelming response - which he estimated at 150,000 people - partly caused any plans to fall short of the expectations and added that the event was sold out and no more tickets than those initially available were offered.Fans with tickets who could not attend last week's race will be able to get them exchanged for future Cup events at SMI tracks such as Loudon, Bristol, Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas or for next year's race at Kentucky. No refunds will be given, but they will be able to claim free tickets for October's Truck Series race or the IndyCar Series event that takes place that same weekend.Track officials were unable to determine how many fans were actually on site for the race or how many ended up missing the event."I don't think anybody could foresee what occurred," Smith said. "Maybe God knew, but I don't know of anybody else that knew how many people would come try to see this event. The [Kentucky] people did an outstanding job promoting that event."I think it speaks loud and clear of what we are. NASCAR, we draw a lot of people. And if you work, you draw a lot of people. We had a lot of people working to that goal and we met that goal. Whatever part we played in this, we played, but it was not all us - we don't control the highways."The NASCAR Truck series will race at Kentucky Speedway on October 1, and changes to the traffic plans are expected to be tested then.