My old Kentucky home

Most of you know that I was born and raised in Owensboro, Ky. Most

people also know that I am a diehard Kentucky Wildcats fan,

particularly when it comes to basketball. Boy, do we have a great

team this year with a great coach. We got the best freshman in the

country and what an incredible turnaround for that program. This

team looks to be one of the best that Kentucky has ever had.

We know that basketball is probably the biggest sport in

Kentucky, but that could all change in a very short period of time.

We also know that Kentucky is famous for its horses, but the state

might soon become even more famous for its horsepower.

Most of you also know that I was heavily involved since the

beginning with the development, building and promotion of Kentucky

Speedway. It was a perfect site on roughly 1,200 acres for a

racetrack, and I was really excited about being a part of it from

the first shovel of dirt being turned. You had the interstate right

next to the track plus a community that was passionate about stock

car racing. Heck, if you flew over the track in a helicopter, you

would see the track is D-shaped and the garage is W-shaped. That

wasn’t by accident.

NASCAR was gracious enough to move both a Camping World

Series and Nationwide Series race there. So the track was off and

running. But let’s be clear here: There was never any guarantee of

a Cup race being awarded to Kentucky. In fact, talk like that was

discouraged. Sure, there was the possibility for associating with

another track owner and possible realignment of dates might bring a

race there.

That was encouraging, but unfortunately never materialized.

Now the difference between the Texas lawsuit and the Kentucky

lawsuit was as different as night and day. Texas was promised a

date. The date Texas got didn’t come from NASCAR. It came after

owner Bruton Smith, along with New Hampshire track owner Bob Bahre,

bought the North Wilkesboro track. They each took one of those two

dates. So Bruton opened Texas on the old North Wilkesboro date.

But Bruton never got the date he was promised from NASCAR,

and that led to a lawsuit in which Bruton prevailed. Now Kentucky,

on the other hand, was never promised anything. While assured there

might be a possibility of a date dependent on a lot of factors,

Kentucky was clearly told not to get its hopes up.

I always was of the belief that “If you build it, they will

come.” That track lacked for nothing. When it was planned out and

built, it was for NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. From parking to the

traffic flow to all the amenities, it was all with the thought of

Cup racing in the future. That was the plan from Day One.

The track has a lot of grip. If you ask the drivers, they

will tell you they love racing at Kentucky Speedway especially

because of the multiple grooves. The only issue that arose was the

track surface, but the owners didn’t hesitate to fix it any time

there was a problem. Now, it’s just so smooth and has a ton of

grip. That leads to a lot of exciting side-by-side racing.

The grandstands are primo. There are plenty of bathrooms,

which was a big complaint about tracks back in the day. The suites

are spectacular. There’s even an Outback Steakhouse restaurant in

the facility to provide catering for the suites. There’s even a

statue behind the backstretch by the souvenir store dedicated to

yours truly.

There’s simply nothing wrong with the track other than it

didn’t have a Cup date.

Unfortunately, time continued to pass, and despite the

tremendous turnouts by fans at the Nationwide, Truck series and

even IRL events, it became clear a Cup race was not on the horizon.

That became very discouraging after a while.

I was put in a very bad situation when the owners of Kentucky

Speedway sued NASCAR over the process of how dates are given to

racetracks. It just seems to me that nothing good ever comes from

lawsuits. When I learned the track could be bought, I was able to

get in touch with Bruton Smith and he went to Kentucky Speedway and

made a deal to buy it.

Bruton’s plan was to have a race there in 2010, but the track

owners refused to drop their lawsuit against NASCAR. A three-judge

federal appeals court panel rejected the claims by the track owners

last Friday. They said the owners failed to prove NASCAR and

International Speedway Corporation worked together to keep Kentucky

from being added to the Sprint Cup schedule. So I think this is

finally the end.

Hopefully it is, because then Bruton could move a race there

in 2011. When that happens, I just have to say it will be another

Red Letter day in DW’s life. All I ever wanted for that area of

northern Kentucky and southern Ohio was a great facility that the

community could be proud of and the jobs it would create.

Everything is in place to have one of the finest facilities

in the country with some of the most passionate NASCAR fans you

will ever see. I can’t wait to see the green flag fall for the very

first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at my old Kentucky home, which in this

case is Kentucky Speedway.