CIR­CUIT’S NAS­CAR PLAN FACES A SPEED BUMP

Texas Mo­tor Speed­way boss laughs off the talk of Cup Se­ries at COTA.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Lyt­tle klyt­tle@states­man.com

Texas Mo­tor Speed­way Pres­i­dent Ed­die Gos­sage fiercely de­fended his turf this week when asked about the like­li­hood of Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas some­day stag­ing a NAS­CAR Cup race.

Re­spond­ing to a re­cent Amer­i­can-States­man story, Gos­sage said COTA of­fi­cials are out of their depth re­gard­ing the topic.

“I don’t blame them for want­ing NAS­CAR races, it’s just that they’re 20 years too late,” Gos­sage told the Fort Worth Star-Tele­gram on Mon­day. “I don’t think they know the busi­ness or they wouldn’t be say­ing such things.”

Gos­sage said when he heard about the Amer­i­can-States­man re­port, he chuck­led at the idea. He added that it re­sem­bled some­thing he might have said to gen­er­ate pub­lic­ity and in­ter­est in his track.

Gos­sage said his Fort Worth track is “pro­tected con­trac­tu­ally” from NAS­CAR adding a race in

the re­gion, and “we’re all bound by con­tracts.” He said NAS­CAR has not men­tioned the idea of Austin ob­tain­ing a road race to TMS or its par­ent com­pany, Speed­way Mo­tor­sports Inc.

COTA chair­man Bobby Ep­stein told the AmericanStatesman he un­der­stood that Speed­way Mo­tor­sports might be able to block a po­ten­tial NAS­CAR race in Austin.

Texas Mo­tor Speed­way, a 1.5-mile oval, has been a ma­jor player in NAS­CAR since the track opened in 1997, once re­port­ing crowds of 200,000 fans for Cup races. Lately, those at­ten­dance num­bers have dwin­dled to the 100,000120,000 range.

Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas, a 3.4-mile road course, re­ports at­ten­dance of 100,000 to 110,000 fans for its For­mula One races.

TMS, which puts on two NAS­CAR Cup races every year, has been in­vest­ing in its prod­uct, adding a gi­ant video screen and repaving the track’s sur­face this year.

“We have 20 years of history with NAS­CAR, there’s a long history there and our com­pany is one of the big­gest clients in the world for NAS­CAR,” Gos­sage told the Star-Tele­gram. “This story doesn’t con­cern us.

“I don’t want to slam them at all. I’m sure they’re great folks. When I saw it, I just laughed at it be­cause it’s some­thing I would do.

“But we’re old pros. This is my 38th sea­son in ma­jor­league rac­ing. They are try­ing to find their way in a re­ally com­pli­cated and nu­anced busi­ness. It’s all a new chal­lenge for them.”

Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas, which lists a wide range of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional mo­tor­sports events on its cal­en­dar, is en­ter­ing its sixth year.

Some NAS­CAR of­fi­cials have ac­knowl­edged fans want more rac­ing va­ri­ety and that dif­fer­ent op­tions should be ex­plored. NAS­CAR com­petes on just two road cour­ses: Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas is a widely ac­claimed, Grade I-rated cir­cuit.

“It’s a nice race track, but we’re the place that you’ve got to come to see NAS­CAR, see IndyCar, and I don’t see that chang­ing any­time soon,” Gos­sage said.

JARED C. TILTON / GETTY IM­AGES

Driver Carl Ed­wards cel­e­brates with Texas Mo­tor Speed­way Pres­i­dent Ed­die Gos­sage (left) af­ter win­ning NAS­CAR’s Texas 500 at Texas Mo­tor Speed­way last Novem­ber.

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