France says NASCAR not ready to give up yet

Updated: March 11, 2007, 5:40 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- NASCAR chairman Brian France fully expects International Speedway Corp. to have a new track in Seattle, Denver or New York City in the not-so-distant future.

"I don't expect all three to get a facility built," France said before Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "But I do expect something positive to happen. I also expect lots of deterrents that happen when you try to build community support."

France said Denver appears to have momentum. He was not concerned about recent insults by Washington state politicians who are fighting a move to the Seattle area.

"They have to work their way through and build that community support," France said of ISC and local politicians. "I don't expect them to do that easily. I also don't expect them to do it in every market that could host a NASCAR event.

"Do I expect them to have success in one or more markets over the long term? Yeah, my expectation is that they will."

France noted that Kansas Speedway, one of NASCAR's great success stories, almost didn't get built.

Expansion will make it more difficult for tracks such as recently renovated Las Vegas Motor Speedway to get a second date. In an ideal world, France would like another date for Kansas City, Homestead-Miami and Las Vegas.

He urged that it could take time unless Speedway Motorsports Inc. gives up one of its dates at another track.

"Phoenix went for a long time without a second date," France said. "They thought they were deserving of it. We ultimately realigned the date, and by the way they were deserving of it.

"We would have liked to have had a second date at Phoenix many years ago, it just didn't happen. There's what we want and a practical side of what we can do. That's what we have to work on."

France was impressed with the $75 million in renovations at LVMS that include the Neon Garage, which allows fans to get an up-close view of teams working on the cars; a new pit road moved closer to the fans; and a spa.

"I walked it earlier," France said. "They've got a tremendous facility. A lot of fan support."

SMI chairman Bruton Smith lobbied earlier in the week for a second date, reminding NASCAR that LVMS sells out every year while tracks such as California struggle to sell out smaller facilities.

France pointed out that North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham wasn't selling out with about half the seats of California Speedway before NASCAR took the last of its two dates in 2004.

"California has 92,000 seats," France said. "So if they had 80,000 people there, you go, 'Oh my God! Oh my God!' It's 80,000 people, and that's in the grandstands. You've still got infield and the rest of it. So you can have 90,000 in attendance, which is a monster sporting event, and yet be shy of a sellout."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ESPN TOP HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM