Kentucky Speedway's logo
|Location||Sparta, Kentucky, United States|
|Time zone||Eastern (U.S.)|
|Owner||Speedway Motorsports, Inc.|
|Broke ground||July 18, 1998|
|Opened||June 16, 2000|
|Construction cost||$153 million|
|Major events||NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts
NASCAR Nationwide Series
John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
ARCA Racing Series
|Length||1.5 mi (2.4 km)|
|Lap record||221.390 miles per hour (Sarah Fisher, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, 2002, IndyCar Series)|
Kentucky Speedway is a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) tri-oval speedway in Sparta, Kentucky, which has hosted ARCA, NASCAR and Indy Racing League racing annually since it opened in 2000. The track is currently owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. and Jerry Carroll, who, along with four other investors, owned Kentucky Speedway until 2008. The speedway has a grandstand capacity of 117,000.
Construction of the speedway began in 1998 and was completed in mid-2000. The speedway has hosted the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series, IndyCar Series, and the Firestone Indy Lights Series and most recently, the Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2011.
Early history and construction
On January 8, 1998, Jerry Carroll announced that he and four other investors were going to build a $153 million racing facility in Sparta, Kentucky. Five months later, groundbreaking ceremonies were held on July 18, 1998. While construction continued, it was announced that the speedway would open with an ARCA race in 2000. Afterward, it was announced that the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series would promote a race following the ARCA race. Testing at the track began with Bill Baird, who participated in ARCA. In November 1999, it was announced that it would also hold a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (now Camping World Truck Series) race in 2000. The speedway continued to announce races for the 2000 racing season, one of which was a second ARCA race.
Several months later, the speedway decided to resurface the track because of bumps in the surface from winter. On June 16, 2000, the speedway opened with a Slim Jim All Pro Series event. One day later, the speedway held its first major series, the Craftsman Truck Series, which was won by Greg Biffle. In August of the same year, Buddy Lazier won the inaugural IndyCar Series race. On August 29, 2000, NASCAR announced that Kentucky Speedway would also sanction a Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) race in 2001. One year after the speedway opened, it held its first Busch Series event, with Kevin Harvick emerging as the winner.
During the 2002 IndyCar race at the track, Jason Priestley suffered a concussion and fractures to his thoracic spine and feet, becoming the first major injury to occur at the speedway. Three years later, Carroll began his efforts to receive a Nextel Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) event at the track. While trying to do so, Kentucky Speedway filed an anti-trust lawsuit against NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation (ISC). The reason for the lawsuit was the claim that both companies violated federal antitrust laws because of restricting the awarding of Nextel Cup Series events. The lawsuit continued for three years before concluding in January 2008 with Judge William O. Bertelsman dismissing the trial with ISC and NASCAR winning the lawsuit. Following the dismissal, Judge Bertelsman commented, "After careful consideration and a thorough review of the record, and granting Kentucky Speedway the benefit of the doubt on all reasonable inferences therefrom, the court concludes that Speedway has failed to make out its case."
During May 2008, the speedway announced that Speedway Motorsports Inc. bought the speedway from Jerry Carroll. Bruton Smith invested $50 million in the speedway, and planned to move a Sprint Cup Series event to the track by 2009. However, the speedway did not receive a Sprint Cup Series event in the 2009 season. Also in 2009, the lawsuit against NASCAR and ISC was dropped by Carroll, but other former owners of the speedway sued Carroll, therefore extending the lawsuit even further.
The speedway continued playing host to Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series, IndyCar, and Firestone Indy Light Series events through 2010 and further. In 2010, both former owners of the speedway reached a settlement, ending the lawsuit. In August 2010, it was announced that the speedway would hold its inaugural Sprint Cup Series event, the Quaker State 400, during the 2011 season. Before the first Sprint Cup Series event, Kentucky Speedway expanded the capacity of the track from 66,000 to 107,000. The speedway also reconfigured pit road, and added 200 acres of camping.
The inaugural Quaker State 400 was held on July 9, 2011 and was won by Kyle Busch. However, the race was overshadowed by numerous logistical problems. A massive traffic jam on Interstate 71 resulted in as many as 20,000 people being unable to get to the race. The traffic situation was so severe that at least one driver (Denny Hamlin) nearly missed the pre-race drivers' meeting. Many fans still en route by the halfway point of the race were asked to turn back in order to make it easier on those leaving the race. Speedway Motorsports admitted that it had not anticipated the sheer number of fans attending the event (the increased capacity notwithstanding) and had not made any significant upgrades to the infrastructure in and around the facility. Speedway officials apologized for the snafu and allowed those who didn't get in to redeem their tickets at Speedway Motorsports' other tracks for the rest of the season, or the 2012 Quaker State 400. In late 2011, the speedway purchased a 170-acre farm adjacent to its original property which was converted to parking. The purchase was a portion of more than 300 acres of land the speedway converted to parking. Additionally, speedway management began to work with the state government and police to improve event ingress and egress in time for the 2012 race.
- "Kentucky Speedway Race Recaps". Racing-Reference.info. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- "2002 Belterra Casino Indy 300". 11 August 2002. Racing-Reference.info. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- "Recapping a track�s birth". Cincinnati.com. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- "Key moments in Kentucky Speedway history". 11 August 2010. Kentucky.com. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- "Kentucky". NASCAR. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- Pockrass, Bob (10 January 2008). "NASCAR, ISC win antitrust lawsuit against Kentucky Speedway". SceneDaily. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- "Bruton Smith to buy Kentucky Speedway-UPDATE". 22 May 2008. AutoRacingSport.com. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- "Former track owners move on from case". 18 December 2009. ESPN. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- Spencer, Lee. "Kentucky Speedway confirms 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup race". 10 August 2010. Fox Sports. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- Jensen, Tom. What now, Kentucky?. Speed, 2011-07-10.
- Hembree, Mike. Kentucky Speedway To Add Parking Area. Speed, 2011-07-10.
- Kentucky Speedway apologizes to fans. Speedway Motorsports, 2011-07-11.
- Blount, Terry. Kentucky Speedway gets a mulligan. ESPN, 2011-07-12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kentucky Speedway.|
- Kentucky Speedway Official Site
- Kentucky Speedway Page on NASCAR.com
- Jayski's Kentucky Speedway Page – Current and Past Kentucky Speedway News
- Super High Resolution image from Windows Live Local