Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Kansas Speedway nearly ready to start its engine

March 21, 2001

The largest tourist attraction in Kansas is set to open soon.

Construction at Kansas Speedway is running ahead of schedule, according to Michael Walker, public relations assistant for the track.

"By the time it got cold, a lot of the structures were covered," Walker said. "The suites could be heated and so, for the most part,- construction was able to keep going on in the inside."

Work on the $250 million facility, financed with public and private funding, began in mid-1999. To start, 11 million cubic yards of dirt were moved. Speedway calculations estimate that's equal to 1 million dump truck loads of dirt, or enough dirt to fill an NFL stadium five times.

By fall 2000, with much of the stadium and infield work well under way, construction began on the track's surface.

The 1.5 tri-oval 55-foot wide track features banking of 15 degrees in the turns, 10.4 degrees in the front stretch and five degrees in the back stretch.

The tracks' surface was designed to enable NASCAR Winston Cup cars to travel at speeds of 175 mph to 185 mph, and for Indy Racing League cars to travel as fast as 215 mph. Each of the track's layers of asphalt was tested by race cars before the next layer could be applied.

The first phase of the track includes seating for 75,000 spectators. The final phase will take that number up to 150,000.

Speedway grass parking areas will allow for more than 65,000 vehicles.

In addition to the Speedway itself, area residents will see the growth of new retail businesses.

In February, Carol Marinovich, mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., announced five additions to a 400-acre commercial development area adjacent to the Speedway.

Planning to become a part of the neighborhood are a 580,000-square-foot Nebraska Furniture Mart, costing $55 million, plus inventory. This store is scheduled to open in 2003.

Adding to that will be a 150,000-square-foot Cabela's store, complete with a walk-through aquarium and museum-quality mounted animals. About 400 employees will work at Cabela's.

Movie-goers will find more films to choose from, with a 12-theater movie complex next to the Speedway.

Warren Theatre, Wichita, will construct a 77,000-square-foot luxury complex, which will be the only such facility in Wyandotte County. The theatre will provide about 150 jobs.

To add to the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood, RED Development, Kansas City, Mo., will construct a 600,000-square-foot outdoor retail mall with specialty stores. The mall's shops will be geared to the tourists who will visit the Speedway. An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 jobs will be provided.

Applebee's also plans to construct a restaurant in the 400-acre site. Long-term plans project the construction of a hotel.

Walker said he's expecting big crowds for the events.

"We are close to selling out of season tickets," he said.

For newcomers to the sport of racing, including those who don't want to shell out a lot of money for season tickets, Walker suggests looking at the track's inaugural events, an ARCA RE/MAX series and NASCAR Winston West series, scheduled June 2.

"It's a great way to come out to Kansas Speedway," Walker said. "It's a good and inexpensive way to bring your family out here."

He pitches the idea for the seasoned, as well as for the curious.

"Just come on out and enjoy it just to be a part of the biggest thing to hit Kansas ever," Walker said. "I think it will probably blow most people away, how big it is and how big it's going to be."

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