New Road Course Debuts at Kansas Speedway
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – After months of construction work, road racing is coming to the Kansas Speedway.
Race car drivers with the GRAND-AM Series and Rolex Sports Car teams tested out the new track Wednesday. It took five months for construction crews to build it, and Penn National Gaming Chairman and CEO Peter Carlino took the first lap.
Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren said it cost a little less than $20 million dollars to build the new track and repave the outside oval with a five-degree higher bank. The whole project was paid for by private funding.
“It’s a very different type of racing because its more about braking and cornering then it is about maintaining a high speed and driving on the edge all the time,” Warren said.
This is the only road course like this in the Midwest and GRAND-AM Driver Ryan Ellis of Fairfax, Virginia, said motor sports fans will have an easier time relating to this kind of driving.
“It’s not your typical NASCAR racing – left turn, left turn, left turn,” he said. “It’s more applicable to what they see in the streets. There’s Mustangs, Mini Coopers, Kia’s, Ferraris – everything you could possible imagine seeing in the street out there racing at 140-to-180 miles an hour, wheel to wheel, racing hard every lap.”
Ellis said the track is really fast and should entertain racing fans with more side-by-side racing. He adds there is the potential for more crashes.
“We tend to crash a little more because in the Continental Tire Series, we have about 90 cars out there at once, so it’s pretty chaotic,” Ellis said.
The course is 2.36 miles long, and the first race is scheduled for next summer. Warren said it will be the first NASCAR-sanctioned night race the Speedway has ever hosted.
“Anything we can do to expand the base of racing fans in the Midwest is positive, he said, “and we’re literally going to be the only track in the area that is running this kind of race. We draw really, really well for our NASCAR races and we expect to do the same thing for GRAND-AM.”