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Superspeedway faces another silent season
Jan 04, 2013 11:50 am
By LARRY WOODY
GLADEVILLE — Dover Motorsports president and CEO Denis McGlynn last week said nothing has changed about the status of Nashville Superspeedway, which means the racetrack enters the new year apparently destined for another idle season.
Terrell Davis, editor of Middle Tennessee Racing News, says there is speculation that NASCAR star Tony Stewart and his former team owner, Joe Gibbs, might be interested in the track.
“But as far as we know, no offer has been made,” Davis says. “If there are negotiations going on, they’re being kept quiet.”
When Dover opened the track in 2001 it had invested millions of dollars in land acquisition and construction. The track never lived up to attendance expectations, prompting its closure after the 2011 season.
Even though the Superspeedway ran no races last season, it generated some revenue through leases to various NASCAR teams for testing. (Under 2012 NASCAR rules, testing could be done only on tracks that didn’t run NASCAR races.) However, this year NASCAR has changed its rules to permit testing on virtually any track, which will likely lessen the demand for the Superspeedway.
“What little revenue Dover had coming in will mostly dry up this year,” Davis says.
Meanwhile Dover has to continue to pay property taxes and other debt overhead. That represents an ongoing financial drain on the company.
“If someone is interested in acquiring the track, they could probably get a good deal,” Davis says.
But what would they do with it? If Dover – with its four-decade history of expertise and successful NASCAR racing at its Delaware track -- couldn’t make a go of the Superspeedway, how could how could anyone else?
For starters, says Davis, the Superspeedway wouldn’t have to rely entirely on NASCAR races. Stewart’s plan reportedly includes adding a sprint-car track and dirt track.
Also, the never-completed drag strip that was in Dover’s original blueprint has potential for special events.
And there is a chance that the struggling Indy Racing League might return for a made-for-TV race.
Gary Baker, one-time owner of Bristol Speedway and Fairgrounds Speedway, says the Superspeedway could be made into a Research and Development center for the various auto manufacturing companies in the area.
“You can do more with a racetrack than just race on it,” Baker says.
Baker says Dover’s problems started with the design of 1.3-mile concrete track.
“They tried to build a track that would accommodate stock car racing and open-wheel racing and they ended up with a track that wasn’t very good for either,” he says.
“That, combined with a bad economy that broad-sided a lot of us (Baker last year was forced to close Baker Curb Racing), was too much for Dover to overcome.
“Could someone take over the track, make some design changes, do a few things differently, and make it successful? I think so, but it would require a substantial investment, and that’s a challenge during a shaky economy.”