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If I hear one more lame apology from the people who “manage” the Kentucky Speedway, I’ll vomit.
I don’t want apologies for Saturday’s inexcusable traffic nightmare at the track, and I certainly am not interested in hearing about learning curves and arriving early.
With two tickets awaiting our arrival, my son-in-law and I trucked out of Lawrenceburg about five hours before Saturday’s race in Sparta, which is a little more than an hour away. Like thousands of others, we not only didn’t see a single lap of the race, we never got closer than a couple of miles to the track before giving up and heading home.
We expected heavy traffic, so we weren’t too concerned when it came to a screeching halt about 10 miles before the speedway on US 127.
“Certainly they have this planned out so that we’ll get there, even if it takes a couple of hours,” I told my son-in-law, a full-time member of the National Guard hoping to see his first race before his third deployment to the Middle East later this year.
So we patiently waited in line, moving inches at a time and watching our fellow race fans dash behind barns and bushes to relieve themselves as the hours dragged by.
As 6 p.m. approached, I started to get fairly concerned because the race was scheduled to start at 7:30 and we had yet to make it off US 127 and onto Highway 35, which is about six miles from the speedway.
By race time, we reached Highway 35 and started seeing people literally abandon their cars or fork over $20 to park in someone’s yard. On foot and in 90 degree heat, they beat feet on the hot pavement, children in tow, apparently not concerned about the six-mile hike back to their cars on the cruddy, two-lane shoulder-less road that was sure to be jammed with bleary-eyed drivers long after sunset.
But we stayed the course, figuring even if we miss the beginning of the race it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
By 8 p.m. we held out a little hope, but by 9 we couldn’t even hear the cars thundering around the track yet, so we gave up and headed home.
We stopped in Owenton to lick our wounds, relieve ourselves in proper fashion and grab something to eat. Inside the restaurant, a number of other angry folks had gathered to share their tales of NASCAR woe. We bumped into some folks from Springfield who left home at noon but couldn’t get to the track, and another group that ate thousands of dollars in tickets because they couldn’t make it either despite living only 40 miles away in Stamping Ground.
Once back in Lawrenceburg, I found out that Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway’s family, which attended the previous two nights of racing, couldn’t get to the track, either, despite having platinum parking and season passes.
Another Lawrenceburg resident, PVA Brian Stivers, left a bit ahead of us and apparently did his best Kyle Busch imitation through traffic and saw the race.
Sheriff Troy Young said his brother Tony made it inside, but only because he parked five miles away and hoofed it to the track. He got a ride back to his car from a not-so-good Samaritan, who only charged him $10 for his troubles.
Sunday morning, I listened to NASCAR radio and fumed over how much lipstick the shills there were attempting to put on this pig.
“Hey, it was a learning experience for everyone,” was one of the comments. “When you’re going to such a huge event, you have to leave extra early,” was another.
OK, then, here’s what I learned: NASCAR, which denied the speedway a race for a decade before finally giving in, should never have granted it one this year. The availability of parking at and around the track is nowhere near enough to handle that kind of crowd, and I’m not interested in paying for someone else’s education.
As for leaving early, it wouldn’t have mattered if everyone involved got there 10 hours or 10 days before that race because there simply wasn’t enough parking. Period.
On Monday, I heard Senate President David Williams was shut out, too, and is considering a state investigation into why the track treated people so poorly.
I’m not sure I’ll vote for him for governor, but he certainly has my support in that effort.