Change in NASCAR race location has NH businesses, fans, politicians looking to fill void
LOUDON — The recent approval of the September NASCAR Cup race moving to Las Vegas has the Granite State in disarray, and the speedway asking fans to stand behind them.
The race that once brought a crowd of more than 90,000 people and a revenue of about $250 million, leaves an unforgettable gap.
After weeks of negotiating, the owner of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Speedway Motorsports Inc., announced its decision to move the race Wednesday, leaving fans with a lot of questions.
"The loss of the race is going to affect the state more than local," according to Greg Makris, owner-operator at Makris Lobster & Steak House in Concord. "The track will have to adapt to what it needs to fill the spaces and the local guys will adapt to the functioning of the track."
The change in location upset Makris, and he thinks the tremendous impact of a number of people that come in for the race is what's going to hurt his business and the state.
The announcement also had state politicians pointing the blame at each other.
In a press conference Thursday, General Manger of NHMS David McGrath answered questions regarding the change and was optimistic that the speedway would come out of this in a big way.
"What I would say to (small business owners) is simply this, don't forget we still have a July race," McGrath said. "(The July Race) will be here for a long time. We will work as a team to make that race bigger and better than it's ever been."
McGrath brought up several ideas to amend the issue but did not give a definitive answer as to how they will fill the place of the historic race.
"We are already exploring ways to bring short-term racing, keep our modified race, work with our American/Canadian tour promoters that promote those events and create a great short race weekend," McGrath said. "We may even be talking about a three-day music fest that we bring to the speedway."
The motor sport will continue to be the "main thrust" of the speedway, but they say they will certainly be looking for other opportunities to bring revenue to the speedway.
"This is going to be still the place to come to watch 40 of the world's best drivers take that green flag every summer," McGrath said.
When asked if the change would cause any layoffs, McGrath said instead the speedway will continue to add to their team to grow and develop further.
"No, not one." McGrath said about potential layoffs.