Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

July 30, 2010

Cause for Sadness: Race Tracks that Close

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:40 am

Idiots tend to blame Tony George for just about anything they feel is wrong within the sport of motor racing. The problem is the sport has always done a good job of killing itself. NASCAR is not immune from boneheaded moves as well.

ISC’s closing to big time racing of Pikes Peak International Raceway is a good example. When Nazareth closed it took a piece of the heart of the sport with it.

A company currently tripping over itself is Dover Motorsports. They own a bunch of tracks in Dover and Nashville as well as Gateway outside St. Louis and Memphis Motorsports Park. Memphis and St. Louis in a general sense are potentially great markets for motorsports and fill a clearly defined geographic space. The problem is Dover Motorsports is probably closing both. Yesterday they announced they would not seek sanction from NASCAR for their two Nationwide races and one truck race outside St. Louis. Indy Cars did not last long there either.

The last time I saw Gateway it appears that not a lot of routine maintenance has ever been performed. One problem with both has little to do with an obvious need for tracks in both markets, it is where the tracks are located. Both are in less than desirable areas. When tracks are left to wither and die a lot of genuine sadness results.

Over the past couple of decades countless small tracks in markets all over the country have closed. More efforts such as NASCAR’s ‘hometown tracks’ initiative are needed.

Perhaps someone ought to buy some grandstands and build real tracks either closer and more accessible to cities they serve, or in safer locations. Then market them effectively. And include the Indy Car Series in the schedule.



  1. I will not shed a single tear over Gateway closing. If you recall, from 1997-1999, they hosted a race for the boycott brigade the day before the 500. They were trying to upstage the 500 parade with a little event. These people made their bed, now they have to lie in it!

    Comment by bjh — July 31, 2010 @ 12:53 am | Reply

    • Move on from the split politics.

      Gateway is a flat 1.25 mile oval which is perfect for open wheel cars. Give me that over a 1.5 high banked Nascar cookie cutter any day.

      Comment by hates crappies hates gomers — July 31, 2010 @ 8:13 am | Reply

  2. Sorry, but I need to go on for a bit to make my points.

    I’ve been to a lot of tracks through the years. Indy is in a class by itself. I think the 1.5 mile ovals provide exciting races for both more novice and more advanced race fans. They are modern board tracks – speed and momentum and (driver’s skill + balls) prevail. I began to understand road and street course racing after attending Jim Russell some years ago. They’re all about perfection and patience. Stalking a car until you figure out the driver’s weakness or dog him enough to force an error. Set-up and driver skill and qualifying 10/10’s are so important.

    The short ovals are kind of intermediate between the two. They require meticulous attention and knowing the competitors well because the action is so fast and furious. Drivers tip=toe around the track, and mature drivers make it look easy to the fans. If you want to see how this works, go watch the F2000’s and Star Mazda’s at IRP.

    Gateway was a great track for more advanced fans. The egg shape and track length required much driver skill and engineering to consistently get around it fast. It combined elements of road courses, short ovals and the 1.5’s. I miss races there. It’s a great shame that they’re shutting it down.

    Beyond that, though, shutting down Nazareth was sickening to me. The beautiful late summer in the stands at that perfect track was divine. It was a fast road course shaped in an oval.

    Probably most people didn’t notice, but Mansfield near Mid-Ohio bit the dust last year, too.

    Oh, well. F*ck it. It’s just racing.

    Thanks, Defender, for reminding us that persistent media attention to the split 15 years ago is typically either anti-IRL propaganda by bitter jerks or worthless “reporting” by ignorant stick-and-ball sportswriters.

    Comment by TNT — August 1, 2010 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

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