Cup races set through 2015
Improvements also planned
Friday, August 27, 2010
Martinsville Speedway will keep two Sprint Cup races - and the economic benefits that go with them - per year through at least 2015 under the terms of an agreement inked Thursday.
"We (Martinsville) came very close to losing one of our Sprint Cup races," said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who was in Martinsville for Thursday's announcement.
The loss of even one race "would be a devastating hit," Bolling said. He estimated the economic impact from each Sprint Cup race at $75 million to the community, about 1,000 jobs and "millions more" in state and local taxes.
A team of state, local and other officials worked to ensure that did not happen. That group included the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, which provided a $1.5 million grant to help pay for some improvements at the speedway, Bolling said.
ISC/Martinsville Speedway will match that with $1.5 million for an improvement project to benefit race fans. That is under a performance agreement that was adopted Thursday by the Henry County Board of Supervisors, the Henry County Industrial Development Authority and the International Speedway Corp. (ISC), which owns the Martinsville Speedway.
Several buildings on the main concourse level under Blue Ridge Tower will be demolished, and the area will be widened to better accommodate fans, according to Clay Campbell, president of the speedway.
There also are plans to build more rest rooms and concession stands, Campbell said. The work will begin after the Oct. 24 race and be completed before the April event.
Frith Construction Co., general contractor on the project, estimated the equivalent of 50 full-time jobs will be created for the project. Also, 94 percent of all subcontractors and vendors will be from the immediate area, according to Mike Smith, director of media relations at the speedway.
Also, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) worked to provide $400,000 to build a new road to allow better access for fans going to and from races, Campbell said.
The access road will serve parking lots 1 and 2, which are located in the south lot, he said.
"That's been one of our primary lots, but it was not designed to be," Campbell said. Currently, when fans leave the speedway, traffic gets bottlenecked.
When the new road is completed, congestion will be alleviated because traffic can travel in east and west directions, Campbell said. The new road parallels the U.S. 220 bypass, he added.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation also will invest $200,000 to promote the four race weekends in Martinsville each year, Bolling said. In addition to the Sprint Cup races, Martinsville Speedway hosts two truck races a year.
The state also will work with the speedway to develop plans for it to see more use, Bolling said. He did not elaborate but said the state's investment will yield a good return.
A full slate of races in Martinsville ensures that 2,824 jobs, $170 million economic impact and $13.2 million in state and local tax revenues remain intact, Bolling said.
Virginia "is the only state with four Sprint Cup NASCAR races" each year, Bolling said of the races in Martinsville and Richmond. "We're committed to continuing" those races.
Gov. Bob McDonnell "made it very clear to do everything we reasonably could to make sure we would not lose a Sprint Cup race at Martinsville," Bolling said.
The agreement would not have been possible without the support of the tobacco commission, Bolling said.
State Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Ridgeway; Dels. Danny Marshall, R-Danville; Don Merricks, R-Danville; and other state and local officials also attended Thursday's event.
Marshall, who serves on the tobacco commission, said it understands the importance of the speedway.
Dana Martin, Salem District representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, said the team effort that went into saving the race shows that Martinsville has "friends in Richmond, from both sides of the aisle, and all parts of the state."
"I can't re-emphasize enough how hard so many people worked towards" the common goal, Campbell said. "Obviously, the improvements will benefit the speedway," the local economy and the state. But, "the ultimate benefactors are the fans who have supported Martinsville Speedway through the years."
"Martinsville Speedway is 67 years old, which is older than NASCAR itself," said Debra Buchanan, chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
"We are a key part of NASCAR's past, and we are a key part of the present," Buchanan said. Thursday's announcement "verifies that our presence will continue into the future."
For additional information contact Ibbie Hedrick at 804-225-2487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.