(Sparta, Ky.) – If improvements go as planned, racing fans will have a much easier time getting to the Kentucky Speedway for next year’s Quaker State 400 than they did this past July.
Kentucky Speedway officials and Governor Steve Beshear unveiled a plan to ease parking and traffic at the track in Sparta Tuesday morning.
Speedway Motorsports has purchased 219 acres adjacent to the track along Kentucky 35 for $1.5 million. About $7.5 million will be spent to pave and flatten 143 acres of the land to hold another 10,000 vehicles.
The addition will expand upon the speedway’s 33,000 existing spaces.
“Kentucky Speedway is a premier destination for the country’s best racing, and it’s clear that tens of thousands of people want to be right here to experience those events. The NASCAR race weekend this July was a huge success, but it did experience traffic problems, caused largely by inadequate parking,” said Gov. Beshear. “To assure visitors have an even better experience next year, we’ve worked hand in hand with SMI to plan improvements that will benefit fans on race day and Gallatin County residents year-round.”
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is also planning a $3.6 million project with contingency funds to be completed before next summer:
• Improve the Interstate 71 Exit 57 southbound ramp shoulder to allow three lanes of traffic to exit to KY 35 and directly access staggered speedway entrances during event days;
Some of the 107,000 people with tickets to last July 9’s inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky were not able to get to the track because of the traffic backup caused by a lack of parking.
With the millions of dollars going towards track-bound traffic, track officials are confident it will make a difference for 2012.
“We learned meaningful lessons during our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend and we committed that the traffic congestion that occurred on race day would not happen again. It was important for us to act quickly and I am thrilled to report this solution, which was formed in only seven short weeks. I compliment and thank SMI Chairman and CEO Bruton Smith, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and KYTC Sec. Mike Hancock for working collaboratively on this plan,” Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.
The speedway will also hire parking management companies which have worked other NASCAR races and hire an engineering firm to develop a traffic plan.