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NASCAR Boss Prefers Charlotte Keep Two Cup Races

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 25 2013

NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France likes CMS better than Vegas. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Saturday Bruton Smith hadn’t requested a realignment of a Sprint Cup Series event at one of his tracks, but he would prefer Charlotte Motor Speedway’s October race remain at the 53-year-old facility.

“Our preference, my preference, is to make the events where they are more successful,” France said during a press conference at the 1.5-mile track. “We have gotten a long way with our position in motorsports because we’ve had historically important events, like this weekend, that happen every year that people can count on.

“That said, for one reason or another, a certain market is not performing as well, it may be a better opportunity. We’ve seen that in the last five, six years or longer. We’ll take a look at it.

“My preference would be to keep the event here in Charlotte. That’s always been my preference.”

Earlier this week Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., said he was 70 percent sure he would move Charlotte’s fall race to SMI’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In a statement released May 21, Smith noted the track’s Cabarrus County taxes had doubled since 2005.

Smith is currently involved in a legal battle with Cabarrus County officials over incentives promised him in order to keep the speedway open. The two entities became embroiled in a battle when Smith wanted to build zMAX Dragway. At that time, Smith threatened to shutter the track he originally built in 1959-60 with Curtis Turner and build a new one near the North Carolina-South Carolina border.

In 2007, Smith and county officials agreed to an $80 million deal where SMI would help fund infrastructure improvements that would eventually be repaid through state contributions and tax incentives. The two sides agreed in principle; however, Smith later sued Cabarrus County, claiming the final proposed agreement was substantially different than the one initially discussed. A North Carolina Superior Court judge dismissed the case in March 2012. It’s now pending in the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Smith noted in his statement that SMI had invested $100 million in the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex in the past six years.

“We’ve put more people to work with these projects and we’ve added more events to the calendar to bring in more tourists and fans,” Smith said, “and we’ve done this during the worst economy since the Great Depression.”

Smith also noted he had not asked for the same type of “handout” other sports teams often receive from the government.

“The Cabarrus County politicians may say nice things to the media, but raising taxes does not support the tourism business, the area economy or companies trying to grow,” Smith said.

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 25 2013
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