Sunday, May 13, 2001

Rainout doesn't dampen Carroll's spirit

By Tom Groeschen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPARTA, Ky. — In baseball terms, Kentucky Speedway batted .500 with the weather but a perfect 1.000 in customer satisfaction this weekend.

        Speedway chairman Jerry Carroll made that assessment Saturday, after 26,202 people attended an ARCA RE/MAX stock race and a short “Legends” race that featured Winston Cup drivers Michael Waltrip and Sterling Marlin.

        Carroll was pleased despite Friday night's rainout, when thunderstorms postponed a USAC Midget race and an ARCA truck race until Aug.10. More than 10,000 people had filed through the gates Friday night, but they made a smooth exit amid heavy rain. Reportedly, there were none of the mud and traffic problems that marred the track's debut last June 16.

        “We got people out without any problem (Friday night), and I haven't gotten one complaint,” Carroll said. “I think people understood the situation.”


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        There was little chance of a replay of last June, when more than 3 inches of rain rendered several grass parking lots unusable. The crowd was much larger that night — 63,750 for the featured NASCAR Craftsman Truck race — and there were fewer places to put them.

        Since then, several grass parking lots were paved, gravel finger roads were added, and access roads have been widened. “Rain is something you expect in this business, but we think we're ready for anything now,” Carroll said. “We hated to postpone Friday, but the fans can use those ticket stubs to come back in August.”

        Saturday, Carroll looked out from his suite and said he was pleased with the crowd, which was large for an ARCA event. Last year, an ARCA event drew more than 30,000 at the speedway.

        “These are big crowds for ARCA,” Carroll said. “They had less than 5,000 last week in St. Louis, so we did very well.”

        The speedway now braces for its biggest event yet, a NASCAR Busch race — the Outback Steakhouse 300 — on June 16. A sellout crowd of about 67,000 is expected.

        “We're looking forward to that, and this weekend was a good start,” Carroll said. “Everything we've been doing has been geared to June 16, and we'll put on a great show.”

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