17 Apr Kansas Speedway – The Heart of Racing in the Midwest
This weekend 5-hour ENERGY Racing’s driver, Clint Bowyer, returns to his home state as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Kansas Speedway. With a mission to offer the best guest experience in motorsports, Kansas Speedway has built a track that offers fans the total motorsports package. Kansas Speedway’s development has helped Wyandotte County become the top tourist destination in Kansas, with over 11 million annual visitors. So how did the speedway located north east of Clint Bowyer’s hometown of Emporia, Kansas come to be?
Talk of constructing a new race track began in 1996 when the International Speedway Corporation (ISC) started looking for places in the Midwest that could host a new racing facility. Kansas City grabbed the ISC’s attention in 1997, with officials considering both the Missouri and Kansas side of the city. Eventually the Kansas side of the city was chosen since the track would receive better funding. Construction for the new one and a half mile track started in 1999.
In July 1999, Kansas Speedway started their ticket sales through the Founding Fan P.A.S.S, Preferred Access Speedway Seating. All 32 of the facility’s luxury suites were sold out in just one day,leading the ISC to approve the necessary funding for an additional 36 suites. These extra suites increased the speedway’s capacity from 75,000 to just fewer than 82,000.
Kansas Speedway was quickly included as a venue by racing’s different leagues. In May 2000 NASCAR, Indy Racing League and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series announced they would be bringing events to the speedway for its 2001 inaugural racing season. Wyandotte County residents were just as excited as the racing leagues to get a piece of the Kansas Speedway and were given early access to tickets in August 2001. Tickets went on sale to the rest of the public five days later.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Indy Racing League made their Kansas Speedway debut in July 2001 which was the first time NASCAR and IRL ran on the same track during the same weekend. Firsts continued in September 2001 when NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing came to Kansas Speedway. A sold-out crowd watched Jeff Gordon win the speedway’s first Winston Cup race.
So what will NASCAR’s trip to the Kansas Speedway bring this year? Though racing is completely unpredictable, one thing is for sure. Fans visiting Kansas Speedway will have more than enough to keep them busy on race weekend. Between racing, haulers, track events and don’t forget about the new Hollywood Casino located in Turn Two, there’s only one thing left to do. In the famous words of Larry McReynolds, “Reach up there and pull those belts tight one more time!”