Senator says NASCAR track could be built

March 07, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

No one in local racing circles has heard anything about the possibility of a NASCAR track being built in the Eastern Panhandle because the investors involved in the venture are not involved in racing, state Sen. Herb Snyder and a state racing official said Wednesday.

Bill Scott, owner of Summit Point Raceway, and others involved in racing said they typically hear rumors about a new track before the project is officially announced.

That has not been the case with the NASCAR track that Snyder, D-Jefferson, has been promoting, Scott said this week.

Eric Denemark, executive director of the West Virginia Motorsports Council, said he normally would agree with Scott's reasoning, but in this case the situation may be different.

It appears the investors who might build the track are not involved in racing, Denemark said.

"Maybe that's keeping it kind of quiet," said Denemark.

Snyder said Denemark was correct.

Snyder said he was not at liberty to identify the prospective investors, but said they represent the types of companies that usually sponsor NASCAR race cars.


"These people are interested in this," Snyder said Wednesday night.

Snyder said no one in racing circles has heard of the project because "this is much larger than NASCAR."

Snyder said the project would entail a "fully integrated motor sports complex" that possibly would feature other types of entertainment such as professional boxing or live music concerts.

The track would require 1,000 acres of land and possible sites are being explored in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties, Snyder said. The complex would include a NASCAR museum and would be named in honor of Dale Earnhardt, said Snyder. Snyder said the group has contacted the attorney representing the widow of Earnhardt to discuss the project with her.

Denemark said Snyder is serious about his plan, and he isn't doubting anything about it at this point.

"This is a man with a mission," Denemark said.

Local economic development officials say they know nothing about the possibility of a track being built here and other Jefferson County lawmakers say they, too, are clueless.

A spokesman for Daytona Beach-based NASCAR International also said Wednesday he was unaware of any attempt to build a track in West Virginia.

"It's interesting to say the least," said Rob Copeland, managing director of public relations for NASCAR.

The West Virginia Motorsports Council is a newly formed organization that is exploring ways of bringing more car racing to the state.

The council is made up of 65 racing experts who are making an inventory of existing racing facilities in the state, looking at how they can be marketed, and how new facilities can be developed, said Caryn Gresham, spokeswoman for the council.

Denemark said Snyder met with him to discuss some details of his proposal, but it was mostly the same information Snyder gave to the Senate Economic Development Committee last week when Snyder convinced the committee to pass a resolution regarding the project.

The resolution requests that the West Virginia Development Office study the feasibility of locating a track in Jefferson County.

Denemark said Snyder told him he knew of a group of investors who represented publicly traded companies that are interested in building a track in the county.

Denemark said Snyder told him it would probably be necessary for a plane to fly over a potential site for the track to develop an aerial map of the area.

It "strikes me that there specific piece of property being looked at," said Denemark.

While getting top NASCAR races like the Winston Cup or Busch Grand National Series in West Virginia is unlikely, attracting smaller NASCAR-sanctioned races such as the Featherlite Modified Series or the Goody's Dash Series is a possibility, Denemark said.

The state also could look to other racing organizations to sanction races here, such as the United States Auto Club, said Denemark.

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