Kansas Speedway is a 1.5 miles long tri-oval race track located in the city of Kansas. Built in the year 2001, the speedway plays host to two race weekends annually. The International Speedway Corporation owns and operates the speedway.
The races being currently held in Kansas speedway include STP 400 and Hollywood Casino 400 (Sprint Cup Series of NASCAR), Kansas Lottery 300 (NASCAR Nationwide Series), O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) and Kansas ARCA 150.
It was in 1996 that the International Speedway Corporation mooted the idea to build a facility for racing in the Midwest. Though Missouri was also under consideration, officials settled for Kansas because of better funding options that were available there. The architectural design work and construction were contracted to HNTB and Turner Construction, respectively.
Construction on the 1,200 acres of land was started in May 1999 and the sale of preferred tickets commenced in the month of July. The first ticket was purchased by George Brett, a former player of Kansas City Royals and an inductee to the hall of fame for baseball. The heavy demand for preferred tickets prompted the International Speedway Corporation to enhance the capacity to 82,000 from the originally planned 75,000.
Though it was initially planned to complete the construction in 2000, it could be finished only by early 2001 because of delays caused by bad weather and lawsuits filed by the landowners around the area. Both IndyCar and NASCAR had announced in May 2000 itself the dates of the following inaugural events to be conducted in the Speedway during the 2001 season. July 8 – Indy Racing LeagueSeptember 29 – NASCAR Busch SeriesSeptember 30 – Winston Cup Series of NASCAR
In August 2000, NASCAR announced a third event, Craftsman Truck Series, to be held at the Kansas Speedway on July 7, 2001. The first open test was conducted at the Kansas Speedway in April 2001 with Hoosier Tires and CART teams sanctioning Dayton Indy Lights test.
The gates of Kansas Speedway were thrown open for Winston West Series Kansas 150 of NASCAR Series Kansas 150 as well as BPU 200 of ARCA RE/MAX, inaugural races, in June 2001. This was followed by the Indy Racing League and Craftsman Truck Series of NASCAR in July. The NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series were conducted in September 2001 as announced earlier.
In the year 2007, the weekend races that were traditionally held during the July 4 weekend were moved to April. As part of International Speedway Corporation’s date realignment, an additional Sprint Cup Series was also awarded to Kansas Speedway in August 2010. Lights were added to the Speedway and the first event of this Series was held in June 2011.
Traditionally, all the NASCAR races are held during the day and lights are used in the event of a delay caused by rains. An ARCA race held on October 7, 2011 at the Speedway was the first night race.
In July the same year, Kansas Speedway announced improvements to be carried out, including repaving of the track surface and upgrading it to progressive banking, reconfiguring the oval and addition of another road course.
The Sprint Cup race to be held this Sunday will be the last event before the track is repaved. There is an ongoing debate in this regard. Many feel that instead of repaving the track with new asphalt the authorities should continue to repair patches. They argue that it makes driving a little more difficult and prevents average drivers from competing with the talented.
However, Chris Schwartz, Kansas Speedway sales and marketing vice president, said that the changes in climate have damaged the track and repaving is necessary to prevent huge chunks of asphalt from coming up as it happened at the Daytona International Speedway.
Filed Under: TRACKS