RUMOR: Aurora, Colorado Set To Join NASCAR Ranks With $200M Track?

Joe M.Correspondent IIJune 2, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 15:  NASCAR CEO Brian France speaks with the media following practice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 15, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

In case you missed it, NASCAR continues to try and force its way into markets where it neither belongs nor has been successful.

Less than a year after abandoning its latest attempts to build a NASCAR-ready track in Commerce City, reports have surfaced that this time, Aurora, will try its luck at building a track. For its abysmal history in the Centennial State, see the proceeding link in the Denver Post.

Apparently, the track will cost $200 million dollars and will seat between 65,000-100,000 people. On top of that, its expected to be a one mile course but also have an on-site road course on the complex in addition to a go kart facility.

Confused yet?

"It will be a regional attraction and an exciting venue with a lot of activity," Colorado Springs developer Bill Schruck said. The Schruck Corp. owns TransPort, a 6,500-acre industrial park and cargo hub southeast of Denver International Airport.

The group does not have a plan in place to bring Sprint Cup racing to the region. However, such an investment would only seem logical and appropriate.

In this economy, one has to question the timing and the commitment needed from voters as public money would be necessary.

"We are always in favor of a good project that brings jobs into the city," Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer said. "Hopefully, they will be bringing it into the city real soon."

Developers hope the project can qualify for some help from the federal government, including funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to the release.

Developers also hope the project will qualify for some sales tax dollars raised because of a bill lawmakers passed this year.

The legislation, Senate Bill 173, is awaiting Gov. Bill Ritter’s signature. If signed into law, it would allow local governments to use state sales tax revenue to help attract and build tourism projects aimed attracting out-of-state dollars.

Ground wouldn't be broken until 2010, but by then the economy will hopefully be stabilized.


Forcing Their Way Into a market

Why NASCAR forces its way into major metropolitan markets like Denver-Aurora instead of its roots in North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, and Darlington is beyond me. Sure, they've got the population, but there is no guarantee this populace is going to accept racing into their culture, where it has no history or precedent.

There is a reason tracks were visioned in areas like North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, and Darlington. Big Bill France put tracks where he knew they'd succeed. He put them where the core fans were, not where the population lived. If people want to see racing bad enough, they will make their way to the track. To anyone who has ever attended a race, half the fun is the anticipation and journey of actually getting there (the other half is the experience gained while staying there and taking it all in).

To anyone who doubts this philosophy, look at the sagging decline of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. It's located less than half an hour from the Los Angeles Metropoltitan area with over twenty million potential spectators, yet they can't even get 90,000 to commit on one little weekend, no matter how many deals they give away.


So Long Martinsville?

While it apparently wouldn't be an ISC owned track (translation owned by the increasingly progressive and roots-abandoning NASCAR first family the France's), one can be rest assured that it wouldn't stay independent for long.

With rumors of Pocono forced into selling each year and Dover as the lone independent venues left on the circuit, why would NASCAR voluntarily allow a direct competitor into their private club that already competes with Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports (SMI)?

My guess is NASCAR would take it upon them to finally rid themselves of a date in an old country track in a less than desired market. While it would be phased out of course, the 61-year-old track, a NASCAR original, has been hosting two events a year since its beginning.

Sure, it would still leave the Southern Virginia track with one date, but for how long? And which date? Its coveted Chase date? I think not.

The ironic thing is the supposed plans for this glitzy Colorado track include a similar 65,000-100,000 seating capacity (Martinsville holds 62,000 seats). This lacks logic from NASCAR's better perspective. My only explanation is, in the current economy, NASCAR may be forced to scale back.

But won't it be buyer's remorse when the economy turns around? Or would they make it expandable on a need basis?


Only One Good Thing

The only good thing I can gather from all this is the one-mile design. At least it's not another boring one-and-a-half mile D-shaped cookie cutter, follow-the-leader track. But then again, don't we already have two viable one-mile candidates already on the circuit in Phoenix and Dover?

What the heck is going on here?

Facts and figures from the Aurora Sentinel and Denver Post directly contributed to this article along with the quotations.