NASCAR-based International Speedway Corporation couldn’t pull off a track in Staten Island. Might Bruton Smith-owned Speedway Motorsports have more luck in the New York area?
We may just find out. Medallion Financial Group, a publicly traded company that specializes in financing taxi fleets, recently bought a majority interest in Richard Petty Motorsports, and president Andrew Murstein told the New York Daily News about his desire to bring a NASCAR track to Gotham. In an e-mail interview with “As the World Turns (Left),” Murstein admitted that the idea of a New York track was “briefly discussed” with Speedway Motorsports at the season-ending Sprint Cup awards gala in Las Vegas.
Building a track independent of ISC, the publicly traded arm of NASCAR that owns and operates a majority of tracks that hosts Sprint Cup races, has a certain level of risk. It could mean spending millions on a facility without a guarantee of a Sprint Cup date. But a partnership with Speedway Motorsports, which owns most of the other tracks that hosts Cup races, could be the answer. In 2011 Smith will move one of his two Atlanta race dates to Kentucky Speedway after getting approval from NASCAR.
“I would consider going ahead to create a track, even without a NASCAR date, if there was government funding or assistance,” Murstein said, maintaining that privately financing the entire cost is not an option.
Public support will be a key factor in choosing a site, after Staten Island residents largely objected to the idea, citing traffic concerns. Murstein doesn’t seem worried about similar pushback.
“This is a very different political and economic environment than when they tried to build a track last time,” Murstein said of the Staten Island proposal, which was scrapped in late 2006. “New York needs jobs, development and tax revenues just like the rest of the country.”
The Daily News report mentioned Aqueduct in Queens or Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn as potential locations.
“The search for a NASCAR site in the New York area is in its early stages,” said Murstein, who declined to divulge any other possibilities. “Any discussion of proposed locations is based on a vision I have which seems to be gaining momentum. I received dozens of calls and e-mails from people saying they liked the idea and suggesting sites.”
When it comes time to start lobbying, Murstein said he’s looking forward to having NASCAR’s all-time winningest driver in his corner.
“Having Richard Petty makes a huge difference,” Murstein said. “He is a great ambassador of the sport and is loved the world over by NASCAR, sponsors and fans.”
Murstein, the 46-year-old grandson of Medallion founder Leon Murstein, said his interest in NASCAR goes past dollar signs.
“When I was little I would go to the taxi garages with my grandfather and talk to the mechanics about NASCAR,” Murstein said. ” I was always a fan but never a huge fan because I never went to a race until five years ago, since there are no tracks nearby. The first race I went to was with Rusty Wallace at Homestead. Then I went with the “King” [Petty] to Daytona. Once you go to your first race you are hooked. That’s why it would be great to have a track in or near New York City.”