NASCAR & Auto Racing

Groundbreaking held for drag strip

Billionaire Bruton Smith was all smiles at a groundbreaking ceremony today for his drag strip across from Lowe's Motor Speedway, but allowed, "We did not get here without a lot of giving and taking."

He was referring to a dispute with the city of Concord which began in October, when the City Council moved to stop plans for the $60-million project. Smith then threatened to move the speedway, but eventually agreed to build the drag strip and proceed with $200 million in speedway renovations. In exchange, he will see $80 million in government incentives, mostly in road improvements.

Concord Mayor Scott Padgett praised the drag strip.

"Today we are truly beginning a new era in motorsports in Concord," said Padgett, who even displayed his drag strip alarm clock that wakes him with revving noises.

The drag strip will be built in time for a National Hot Rod Association event Sept.11-14. Local tourism officials estimate that event will have an economic impact of $9.8 million.

The track is adjacent to The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway. The drag strip track, pit areas and midways will cover 46.5 acres, part of a 125-acre site.

And the drag strip will help mitigate sound through its design, including walls and a grandstand that help block and absorb noise. Neighbors concerns over noise was one of the reasons that prompted Concord to stop Smith's plans in October.

Padgett said residents he has talked with appreciate that the city was able to ensure noise abatement was part of the drag strip plans.