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President says NASCAR not involved with W.Va. track

April 16, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

NASCAR "has no affiliation or any commitments of any kind" to a racetrack that a West Virginia senator has said he is trying to get for the state, according to the president of NASCAR.

NASCAR president Mike Helton, in an April 3 letter to West Virginia State Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, asked Snyder to stop referring to a track he says he is trying to bring to West Virginia as a NASCAR facility.

Helton said he sent the letter to Snyder after reading about the senator's plan in a clipping from a March 22 Morning Herald.

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In the story, Snyder said the attempt to land a NASCAR track in the Eastern Panhandle was at that time centered in Berkeley County and that investors in the project were looking for 500 to 1,000 acres along Interstate 81 near a Marlowe, W.Va., rest stop for the track.

Helton said in his letter that the story incorrectly leaves the impression that NASCAR is affiliated in some way with the project.

"As I'm sure you know, NASCAR does not own or operate racetracks or museums, and it is not in any way affiliated with the proposal(s) described in this article," Helton said in the letter. "In addition, NASCAR has not committed to, or even suggested that it would sanction any races at a proposed racetrack in this area."

Helton said "NASCAR is not intending to be offensive in this letter, however, I'm sure you can appreciate that in these overly litigious times, we have found the need to affirmatively state our position clearly in the event that various representations may be made to public officials which may incorrectly point to NASCAR's affiliation in a project."

Snyder said Monday he never stated that races at a track would be sanctioned by NASCAR, although he hoped that would be the case.

"That's the whole proposal," said Snyder.

By working with a pool of investors - which he says is continuing to grow - Snyder said it is his job to build the framework for a track and have state and federal elected officials "interface" with NASCAR in an effort to convince the professional racing organization to sanction races at the track.

Snyder said he has put together a detailed report of his idea, which he will send to Gov. Bob Wise; U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.; U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. and other officials in the hope of gaining their support.

Snyder said he will explain the report in detail when he goes before the West Virginia Motorsports Council in Flatwoods, W.Va., on Wednesday.

Snyder, who has talked about the economic boom that could be associated with a professional car racetrack, said 38 states have NASCAR-sanctioned races.

"I want West Virginia to be the 39th. The reason the president of NASCAR doesn't know anything (about the plan) is because it's very preliminary," Snyder said.

Snyder said there are as many as 20 potential sites for a track across the state for what he is calling the "West Virginia project."

Several Eastern Panhandle lawmakers have pressed Snyder to publicly divulge details of his track idea.

People who are excited about the possibility of a NASCAR track in the area are frustrated because they can't get details and people who are opposed are frustrated for the same reason, Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley said.

Helton, whose offices are in Daytona Beach, Fla., could not be reached for comment Monday.

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