CIRCUIT’S NASCAR PLAN FACES A SPEED BUMP
Texas Motor Speedway boss laughs off the talk of Cup Series at COTA.
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.
Driver Carl Edwards celebrates with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (left) after winning NASCAR’s Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway last November.