#TBT: Kentucky Speedway traffic debacle remembered

A massive line of vehicles attempts to make its way into Kentucky Speedway for the track's inaugural Sprint Cup race on Jul 9, 2011.

The inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, held on a muggy early-July Saturday in 2011, was won by Kyle Busch.

That weekend four years ago will always be remembered more for what happened before and after the race than what happened during, however.

While a sellout crowd of 107,000 converged on Sparta with plans to be a part of NASCAR history, another kind of history was made as massive traffic and parking problems kept more than 10,000 fans from ever getting into the track to watch the race. Some of those fans, angry about the situation, vowed to boycott all future races at the 1.5-mile track.

Not surprisingly, speedway, local and state officials wasted little time responding to the situation in an effort to prevent similar problems in the future. Among the changes introduced as a result of the traffic debacle were a widening of the main interstate and secondary roads leading into the track; a speedway purchase of 43 nearby acres that enabled it to add 20,000 parking spots; and a graveling of unpaved parking lots on the speedway grounds.

Fortunately for everyone, the three Sprint Cup races since held at Kentucky have been relatively peaceful affairs, with traffic flowing in and out of the speedway at a reasonable space. But that inaugural 2011 race will always be remembered more for the massive line of vehicles outside the track than the cars on it.