Bringing NASCAR to West Virginia – Parthenon

Fifty-one years since the 1971 West Virginia 500 in that year’s NASCAR Cup Series, West Virginia has brought many tourists to visit the sights and sounds that Mountain State has to offer. USA Today has listed West Virginia as the place to visit in 2022. While exciting news in and of itself, the most surprising thing is that the state did so without hosting a professional sports or league team. within its borders.

Despite the charm of tourism dollars, West Virginia’s population is declining. The state has few, if any, employment opportunities, and the country ranks very low compared to those that outperform them in tourism. After all, one of the most important aspects of tourism is the locals, and with the locals being depleted, that could cause those tourism dollars to disappear over time.

Among the many solutions to longstanding state issues, one aspect that has been completely overlooked throughout this disaster is the attempt to bring a professional sports league to West Virginia. Of course, the state has taken in a ton of minor league teams, but swinging in one of the sport’s strongest leagues wasn’t in West Virginia’s cards or was relatively impossible. However, there is a business that has always been synonymous with the southern United States that has been on the upswing in recent years after a downturn.

NASCAR isn’t the juggernaut it used to be in the late ’90s and early 2000s, but motorsports have begun to emerge in recent years as a viable form of sports entertainment. Although NBC’s viewership numbers have yet to be released for the 2022 season, FOX revealed that the portion of the season that aired on its network averaged 4.5 million viewers per race. While this doesn’t compare much to the viewership that the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL gets, it’s worth noting that West Virginia is one of the top 5 states where NASCAR gets the most viewership.

NASCAR has always been – and always will be – popular here in Mountain State. If you go to any bar on a Sunday evening, you will find the race. If you look around, you can still see NASCAR memorabilia being sold in a store or worn by a sports fan. For most West Virginia residents, NASCAR is still as relevant as Marshall University and West Virginia University.

It seems counterintuitive for NASCAR to come to the state; However, there is a particularly glaring issue. West Virginia does not have a racetrack large enough to support motorsports to support such a die-hard following. Even by today’s standards, Ona Speedway now offers very little compared to the major short tracks regulated by NASCAR races.

It would obviously be crazy to suppose that West Virginia should build its own highway like the Atlanta and Darlington road, or even crazier to suggest a superhighway on par with Daytona or Talladega. West Virginia’s best course of action to bring NASCAR to its limits is a short-track highway. One wouldn’t have to go far to find examples of what works and what doesn’t like the current three short lanes that NASCAR frequencies aren’t far behind, like Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee; Martinsville Speedway in North Carolina and Richmond Raceway in Virginia, which have been around for decades.

The next part of bringing NASCAR to West Virginia is finding where to build the pre-selected short track fast track. The answer, of course, is Charleston, the state capital. Charleston is the largest city in West Virginia in terms of square miles and population, so it wouldn’t make sense to put our short course in the Charleston area.

Where to build it in Charleston is another easier question to ask than to do. With the majority of the land around the Charleston area occupied by residents and businesses, there is only one stretch of land outside the city near Charleston. There is a lot of space between Blackberry Lane and Rush Creek Road which is supposed to be an excellent place to build a highway on a short track between 40 and 50,000 seats.

Now suppose everything is going smoothly and suppose that the highway has been approved and built. There will be a wealth of job opportunities for those who reside in the state and it can lead to economic prosperity. Of course, the track will have its own events, but a key element of the crop will be NASCAR’s access to this highway for a scheduled race or two each year.

Tourism from holding NASCAR races on the track can go beyond what has already been done in tourism over the past few years. Additionally, since most West Virginians were such a fan of themselves, they might head out in droves to the area for such a spectacle. This could also give West Virginia’s economy the boost it’s needed for so long and finally give it something new that its residents can be proud of.

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