Another endangered species?

Another Endangered Species? Motorsports is not an environmentally friendly endeavor - ethanol fueled racecars notwithstanding. But the industry suffers from the same basic problem as the snail darter and the spotted owl - habitat ...


Another Endangered Species?

Motorsports is not an environmentally friendly endeavor - ethanol fueled racecars notwithstanding. But the industry suffers from the same basic problem as the snail darter and the spotted owl - habitat encroachment.

Odd to find Bruton Smith and the black bear in the same predicament.

If you don't live in the media coverage area of Lowe's Motor Speedway, you may not be aware that a plan to construct a $60m drag strip on the sprawling complex has come under fire from residents in recently constructed nearby subdivisions.

This may not seem earth-shattering news to small track owners, who have spent monies disproportionate to the property's value as a racing venue just to appease the advancing hordes of new home owners armed with recently passed noise and other anti-nuisance ordinances. Most eventually succumb to economic necessity - turn the racetrack into residential and/or commercial property and retire on the profits. The only good result of this scenario is that track owners benefit from the dramatic increase in land value brought on by the very encroaching development that killed his racetrack.

And we've lost another nice little racetrack.

But Lowe's Motor Speedway is not another nice little racetrack. It's an economic engine that annually pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy through taxes and tourism.

So two weeks ago when the Concord (N.C.) City Council abruptly requested and had approved a zoning change that prohibited drag strips, Bruton Smith started acting like the billionaire gorilla he is, threatening to move the Speedway to another location - any location but Concord and Cabarrus County.

Oops.

It doesn't take more than a minute to realize that Lowe's will be celebrating its Golden Anniversary in three years. It is the skunk works of major racing facilities - the first big track with night racing, the first with condos, the first with an attached office tower, the first with a restaurant. In the late 1980s, the Speedway had more luxury hospitality suites than all of the other major venues combined.

Would Bruton Smith like to take all the patchwork of lessons learned at Lowe's and incorporate them into one turnkey superspeedway with covered grandstands, retractable roof, tramways, and the like? You betcha. And he's already said he can do that for around $350m - plus a load of infrastructure migraines.

The realities of messing with Bruton Smith have crashed down on the Concord City Council and they are scrambling to save both face and the golden egg.

This situation will be resolved and there will be a state-of-the-sport drag racing facility on the Lowe's Motor Speedway property. There are many solutions to the noise concerns, both practical and creative. Given Lowe's skunk works history, expect something creative.

-Commentary by Bill King

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series General , NASCAR
Drivers Bill King