There’s more than a little irony that it took more than a decade for Kentucky Speedway to get a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
But, speedy or not, the long campaign ended in a victory. Many people, including founder Jerry Carroll, current lead owner Bruton Smith, and others deserve to take a bow for bringing an event that could pump tens of millions of dollars into Kentucky’s economy.
It can also serve as a lesson in the value of setting goals and persisting in their pursuit for civic leaders and economic development executives everywhere.
Legendary driver Darrell Waltrip, an Owensboro native, compared the effort to climbing Mount Everest: “We’ve been way up, and we’ve slid way, way back many times but … making it to that summit is what we hoped and dreamed about.”
The thing is the dream, the goal was always clear and the effort continued through an ownership change, a lawsuit and three governors. Speedway and state leaders kept their eyes on the prize despite setbacks.
It’s a refreshing change from economic development policies that sometimes seem to boil down to nothing more focused than “anything for jobs.”
Jobs are great — now more than ever — but true economic development to yield long-term benefits must be targeted and persistent.
In that same vein, we encourage Northern Kentucky and state leaders to target keeping as much of the economic benefit from the race as possible in Kentucky.
Cincinnati is the closest city to Sparta, the Speedway’s hometown. While it’s inevitable that some who travel to the race will want to stay and eat there, Kentucky should develop a strategy to encourage as many as possible to stay and spend with us.
We know the economic fates of Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati are closely linked. That said, after all this effort to get a Sprint Cup race, let’s try to keep those hard-earned NASCAR dollars in Kentucky.
— Lexington Herald-Leader