Billionaire Bruton gets $37M from poor taxpayers in Kentucky

The hood of a pace car parked in victory lane at Kentucky Speedway was Gov. Steve Beshear's desktop during a ceremonial signing Wednesday of an incentives bill designed to help attract a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race to the track.

Beshear presented the pen that he used to Bruton Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which bought the track in December.

"He got the pen," Beshear said. "We're going to get the race."

That's the hope. Beshear signed House Bill 3 into law June 26 after it passed the Senate and House during last month's special session.

The bill includes a provision that offers Kentucky Speedway as much as $36.7 million in sales tax credits over the next 20 years. The tax break would help SMI pay for what could be a $100 million expansion, but is contingent on Kentucky Speedway hosting a race featuring NASCAR's marquee series.

"I think this sends a very strong message to NASCAR that Kentucky is ready, willing and able to step up and do everything possible to make this track a success and to make a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here a big success," Beshear said. "We've shown we know how to put on big sporting events successfully with the Kentucky Derby every year…. We know how to do this."

Smith said the bill represents a "huge commitment" from the state. He again pointed to the antitrust lawsuit being pursued by the track's former owners against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. as an obstacle standing in the way of a Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.

A hearing in the suit, which is on appeal, is scheduled July 30. NASCAR has said it will not consider holding a Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway until the lawsuit is resolved.

"We're anxiously waiting for July 30 to see what the court does," said Smith, whose company is named as a co-conspirator in the case. "If that appeal is lost, then we can go forward. I wish it was tomorrow. If it was tomorrow we might be able to stand here and tell you we'll have it next year."

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