Marcus Smith: ‘For the time being’ All-Star race is ‘in Charlotte’

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
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DALLAS — Despite the suggestion of Darrell Waltrip, the Sprint All-Star Race will stay at Charlotte Motor Speedway “for the time being,” according to Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. president and chief operating officer.

The exhibition event has been run at Charlotte every year but one since its inception in 1985. Waltrip, who won the inaugural event when it was called “The Winston,” expressed the desire to see the All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in an interview with The Tennessean.

Bristol, a half-mile short track compared to Charlotte’s 1.5-mile length, also is owned by SMI.

“First of all, I love D.W. and I understand where he was coming from, because I think he was asked if it were going to be somewhere else, what do you think about that?” Smith said at Texas Motor Speedway’s Media Day. “I think every market where there is a NASCAR track would love to have the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Just like any other very, very special event. NASCAR is unique in a lot of ways compared to other professional sports leagues.”

Compared to other league’s All-Star events, NASCAR’s is the only one that is held at the same location each year. It has been held the week before the Coca-Cola 600 most of its existence.

Smith did leave the door open to the possibility the race could be moved in the future, which hasn’t been done since it went from Charlotte to Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986. A disappointing turnout that Mother’s Day weekend led to its return to Charlotte in 1987.

“I won’t say that it will never happen,” Smith said. “I’m sure that a lot of markets would be thrilled to have this. It would be an awesome race at Bristol. It would be an awesome race at Texas. Wherever it goes it would be fantastic.”

Eddie Gossage, president and general manager of Texas Motor Speedway, said one of the “commandments” is to “not covet your brother’s race.”

“I would like to have it, too, except for the fact that it’s not up for grabs,” Gossage said.

Gossage was part of the staff that revitalized The Winston after it “bombed miserably” at Atlanta. That rebuilding project culminated in “One Hot Night” in 1992, when the race was held at night for first time. It has been scheduled to run at night every year since.

“It’s Charlotte’s, and it should be,” Gossage said. “Our sport cites traditions a lot. That tradition goes back 31 years now.”