NASCAR & Auto Racing

Concord hitting brakes on drag strip plan?

Bruton Smith's planned drag strip in Concord may be stalled.

The Concord City Council will hold a special meeting Monday to consider stopping Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports, from adding a drag racing strip to the motorsports complex at Lowe's Motor Speedway, city officials told the Observer on Wednesday.

The 5:30 p.m. meeting at Concord's municipal building will include a public hearing. The land for the drag strip backs up to neighborhoods and businesses, including a hotel and convention center.

Mayor Pro Tempore Jim Ramseur said he supports the speedway, race teams and other motorsports activity in Concord. But he has concerns about how noise and fumes could affect residents.

"I'm not sure whether the drag strip is a good fit," council member Ramseur said.

Smith said in August he was considering building the $60 million facility off Speedway Boulevard next to The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway.

John Cox, chief executive officer of Cabarrus Economic Development, told Cabarrus County commissioners this month that his board may recommend asking for a $1.5 million tax rebate over five years to build the drag strip.

The board never made a decision on whether to recommend the incentive, in part because the board has not received answers to some questions raised about the project, Cox said.

In August, Smith mentioned his company's success in hosting events near other race tracks sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association, whose Powerade Series is the nation's premier drag racing series.

City officials have said Smith has mentioned his tracks near Atlanta and Fort Worth, Texas, as possible sites for a new drag strip.

Motorsports activities are allowed on the land where the racing facility would be built under its current zoning. Council members would consider changing the definition of the zoning to specially exclude drag racing facilities, City Manager Brian Hiatt said.

Speedway Vice President Jerry Gappens referred questions about the public hearing to Smith, who did not immediately return a call from the Observer.