A day after losing one of its NASCAR Cup weekends, New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s general manager pledged to make the track’s lone Cup event “bigger and better than it has ever been.’’
He also asked those in the community for time to show that the track can thrive even with one NASCAR weekend.
The challenges, though, will not be easy.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. announced Wednesday that it will move the September race weekend from New Hampshire to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2018. That leaves New Hampshire with its July Cup race weekend.
Some fans complained on social media Wednesday about the heat in July there. The high for the area near the track has been between 85-93 degrees on race day since 2011. The high was 87 degrees for last July’s race.
A solution would be to run the July event at night — Daytona and Kentucky each run their races at night in July before the New Hampshire race.
The problem is that New Hampshire Motor Speedway can’t run past 7:30 p.m., David McGrath, the track’s executive vice president and general manager said Thursday.
That’s part of an agreement former track owner Bob Bahre made with local citizens after some filed a lawsuit before the track hosted its first Cup race in 1993, Ken Folsom, town administrator of Canterbury, New Hampshire, told NBC Sports. While most of the track’s 1,200 acres is in Loudon, New Hampshire, a small portion of it is in Canterbury.
Folsom also said that the agreement between the track and the community called for no standalone concerts. During Thursday’s press conference, McGrath noted a desire to hold a music festival at the track but admitted work remains to convince the community to allow it.
“It’s a process that starts with our local government, it’s a process that we’re already knee-deep in,’’ McGrath said. “Once people understand what it really looks like and understand the impact or lack of impact that it will truly have on the community, I think the understanding of it becomes pretty clear that this is a great way to bring a lot of revenue into our market, into our state that didn’t exist a few days ago.’’
As for the racing, McGrath reiterated comments made Wednesday by Marcus Smith, chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc., of making the July race a more special event for fans.
Both also talked about having the NASCAR modified series headline an event in September in place of the lost Cup date to have what McGrath says would be a “great short track weekend.’’
McGrath, who confirmed that the track has yet to sell race sponsorship for either Cup event this year, spent part of his press conference seeking to reassure those upset about New Hampshire losing a Cup date. He admitted that the move “certainly it hurts. Certainly, there’s a little pain there, there’s a little discomfort.
“We understand the angst. We understand that there were two races and now there is one. Let us make it great. Don’t turn your back us.
“I know it sounds tough right now, but I promise you in the months and years ahead, this is going to still be the place to see a great, great Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.’’