Monday, May 20, 2013

Bruton Smith considers moving a Charlotte NASCAR race to Las Vegas

   By Jim Utter

   Charlotte Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith says Charlotte might may be on its way to losing one of its two prized spots on the schedule for NASCAR’s premier Sprint Cup Series schedule.

   During  In an interview Monday with WBTV on Monday, Smith said there was a 70 percent chance he would move the October NASCAR race weekend at CMS to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

   Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns both facilities. Las Vegas currently hosts one Cup series race each March.

   “When the game is over, it’ll be money, money, money. Money will move it,” Smith told WBTV. “I’d say (the chances) are about 70/30.”

   CMS spokesman Scott Cooper said he could not comment on race dates and locations.

   “What I can say is that our team at the speedway is laser-focused on making this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 the very best in our long history. The speedway generates a $420 million dollar economic impact annually to the region, and most of it occurs right now,” he said.

   “We’re looking forward to putting thousands of people to work this week and entertaining 100,000 plus race fans on Sunday with our Southern hospitality.”

   Asked to comment on Smith’s interview, Jeff Motley, the Las Vegas track’s vice president of public relations, said he would defer to Smith.

   NASCAR said it has received no formal request from SMI to move one of its races to another one of its tracks.

   “Tracks have the ability to request re-alignment,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations. “We review and always decide based on the best interest of the entire sport of NASCAR.

   “We’re beginning the 2014 process now, and have not had any formal requests to re-align.”

   Former SMI president H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler said the moving of a CMS race date would not only be a great loss to Charlotte but also to the South.

   “I don’t know what else could occur to disappoint the Southern race fan that has brought us to where we are,” he said. “They lost North Wilkesboro, Rockingham and half of Darlington.

   “It would also be a great loss for Charlotte Motor Speedway and this area.”

   Las Vegas Motor Speedway also hosted an IndyCar Series race during in 2011, but the race was pulled from the 2012 schedule after a 15-car wreck resulted in the death of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.