New Hampshire Motor Speedway will host one Cup weekend next year for the first time since 1996 after its other date was sent to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
So what happened?
Marcus Smith, chief executive officer and president of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns both tracks, said Wednesday it was the “right time” to move the New Hampshire September date to Las Vegas. He cited the city’s worldwide renown and how holding another NASCAR race there will be better for the sport.
“If you think about it, over the last almost 20 years, Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been very successful having one major NASCAR weekend,’’ Smith said. “We believe that it’s a net positive bringing the sport to the entertainment capital of the world in the fall and for a second time.’’
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority states that 96,000 out-of-town fans came to Las Vegas Motor Speedway last year. New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s seating capacity, according to the 2015 SMI annual report, is 89,000. With large swaths of empty seats at New Hampshire for recent races, the move was easy for SMI to make.
After this year, New Hampshire will have only its July race date.
“We’re going to really double down on the summer racing weekend in July this year to make it a phenomenal New England summer destination for NASCAR fans all over the country,’’ Smith said. “We think that race will actually draw more attention and more fans being a standalone.’’
What about that empty September weekend next year?
Smith is looking to have a “spectacular” weekend of modified racing.