|Atlanta Motor Speedway looks set to be the second race of 2016…and beyond.|
I ran into some of the good people from Atlanta Motor Speedway here at Sonoma Raceway. As you know, AMS and Sonoma are both part of Speedway Motorsports, Inc, and some of the Atlanta staff is here helping with the event.
Of course, much has been made of the change to the schedule this past season, in which Atlanta was the week following the Daytona 500 – a less than ideal date. During that rather cold weekend in early March, much was made of the track's outdated facilities and remote locations. We know that Atlanta requested a date change. Rumors also surfaced that the race might move to Road Atlanta, which was acquired by NASCAR in late 2012 in the merger between GrandAm and the American Le Mans Series. This in light of the ever-increasing calls for NASCAR to add more road races going forward.
You might also remember I spoke with NASCAR vice chairman Mike Helton last month in Dover about the possibility of NASCAR adding road races, specifically mentioning Road Atlanta.
Predictably, Helton was not overly-loquacious. However, he did seem to rule out Road Atlanta and what he referred to as "infield-type courses" for NASCAR's top division. And when I mentioned the possibility of AMS moving off the post-Daytona 500 date, Helton simply said "that schedule is pretty full." I took that to be something of a "no," but again Helton was not over-specific.
As an aside. since then an industry insider mentioned to us in this rumor thread regarding the proposed sale of Laguna Seca that International Speedway Corporation could be planning an all road racing stock car series. So, make of that what you will.
However, when it comes to AMS specifically the indication I got from their staff was that they were all but set for 2016 and beyond for the week after Daytona. When I asked about the less-than-ideal weather that time of year, one member of the AMS PR staff not disagreeing with me, simply said the track would "grin and bear it."
Looks to us like AMS is all but set to be the week after Daytona, for 2016 and beyond. Road Atlanta may be part of some grander plans for NASCAR/ISC/IMSA whatever, it won't be for Cup. Same for a second race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
This rumor is downgraded to 'false.'
Brian Carroccio reporting for AutoRacing1
|The racing was good yesterday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, there was talk the event's days could be numbered.|
Word out of Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend was that the track's NASCAR Sprint Cup date could be a candidate for removal from the NASCAR calendar. There was an abundance of cheap hotel rooms available in the area, and everyone saw the crowd on television. While the cold weather probably didn't help matters, Atlanta has had March dates before and the attendance was still better.
Further, the facilities at Atlanta have grown a little long in the tooth in recent years, particularly relative to many of the modern facilities. Suffice to say there are many on the trail, who would not shed too many tears if Atlanta were to go away
So, what might NASCAR do?
The two most likely possibilities seem to be:
1.Road Atlanta: NASCAR of course, owns the 2.54-mile 12-turn track in conjunction with Don Panoz. Moving the race to the road course would seem logical as NASCAR has enjoyed some exciting road races in recent years.
2.A 2nd Las Vegas: Bruton Smith has advocated for SMI-owned Las Vegas Motor Speedway to host the championship race for years. Of course, NASCAR is not giving up the cash cow finale currently hosted by Homestead Motor Speedway. Homestead is of course owned by the France family controlled ISC.
It's conceivable, LVMS could get a second Cup date, but then there becomes the question of scheduling. LVMS has some good date equity with the upcoming slot and where exactly would its second date fit in, conceivably in the fall?
Hard to say, but from a sheer scheduling standpoint, and the fact NASCAR has an equity stake in Atlanta, we might see Road Atlanta at the expense of an SMI track.
Anyway, AR1 will continue to monitor the story. However, it looks to us like the Atlanta Motor Speedway Cup date's days could be numbered.
AR1 Staff Report