Kevin Harvick: Visiting Tracks Twice Is Not So Nice

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IMarch 14, 2009

Kevin Harvick is never shy when it comes to making his feelings known.  So, it was no surprise when he recently spoke quite vocally, in fact about his displeasure in even thinking about returning twice in the season to the track in Darlington, or to any other race track venue in the lineup for that matter.

Some fans have an opposing view from Harvick and have been arguing instead that repeat visits to a few tracks would be great for the sport.  These fans love the history of many tracks like Darlington, a track that has played a vital role in NASCAR racing history.

Harvick, however, is on the opposite side of this fence, saying visiting each track just once a year would be fine by him.

"There's a lot of different markets we could go to, and that would make the sport even stronger," stated Harvick.  In his mind, a second race at Darlington, or Las Vegas for that matter, would be a huge mistake for NASCAR.

Unfortunately for Harvick, his vocal opposition of repeat race track visits will most likely fall on deaf ears.  The reason is simple, there is a far bigger monopoly of track owners affiliated with NASCAR that determines the grand scheduling plan and they like those repeat performances, especially when it comes to their bottom lines.

The race track ownership monopoly is dominated by two major players, International Speedway Corporation and Speedway Motorsports Incorporated.  These two entities own by far the vast majority of tracks on which the NASCAR premiere series race.

International Speedway Corporation (ISC) was started by Bill France, Sr.  Although not "officially" affiliated with NASCAR, the company is controlled by the France family, with Lesa France Kennedy serving as president and Jim France holding the post of Chief Executive Officer.

ISC owns the tracks at Daytona, Talladega, Michigan, Richmond, California, Kansas, Phoenix, Chicagoland, Homestead, Martinsville, Darlington, and Watkins Glen.  With the exception of a few tracks, almost every one of the ISC venues hosts two races per race season.

The other major player in the track ownership monopoly is Speedway Motorsports Incorporated (SMI).  This corporation is controlled by the great and powerful, as well as incredibly vocal Bruton Smith.

SMI controls Atlanta, Bristol, New Hampshire (a recent acquisition), Infineon, Las Vegas, Charlotte and Texas.  The corporation also controls Kentucky Speedway, which currently is suing NASCAR for a Cup race date.

Again, many of the SMI tracks already have two race deals.  Smith has been incredibly vocal in advocating for a second race date for the Las Vegas track, even going as far to suggest that the track should be the last race of the NASCAR season instead of Homestead.

One of the few remaining locally owned tracks is Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA.  This track, owned by the Mattioli family, has two races, most likely because of a long standing agreement that spans years between Bill France, Sr. and now the France family and the Mattioli family.

Given this monopoly of track ownership, it is probably no accident that NASCAR has not really even moved forward with any other new race track venues throughout the country. 

Sure, there has been some investigation into possible race track venues in the New York City market, as well as the northwestern portion of the country, including Colorado and Washington State.

But NASCAR truly has no inspiration or motivation to expand their venues.  In reality, their major race track owners, ISC and SMI, want to maintain their two race visits to their own tracks in order to continue to reap their incredible profits.

So, sorry Kevin Harvick.  In spite of your most vocal protestations, it indeed appears that your request and that of many others will fall on deaf ears. 

Instead the powers that be, ISC and SMI primarily, unlike you, think that being at their race tracks twice a year is indeed very, very nice.

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