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Second NASCAR race to mean millions of dollars for Las Vegas economy

Updated March 8, 2017 - 6:04 pm

Gentlemen, start your economic engines.

Representatives of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the city’s tourism industry and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority converged Wednesday to officially announce what already had been a foregone conclusion — that Las Vegas would become the home of a second yearly NASCAR race beginning in fall 2018.

The deal will mean millions of dollars to the Las Vegas economy.

The LVCVA’s board of directors unanimously approved a seven-year sponsorship and marketing agreement that would dedicate $1 million per race, plus $500,000 a year to market both the spring and fall events, beginning Jan. 1. The contract carries an option for three additional years.

Following the 15-minute board meeting, track and LVCVA executives and five Southern Nevada race drivers held a press conference to fill in the details of what proponents hailed as a historic day for racing and Las Vegas.

DEAL MEANS THREE RACING SERIES

The big news: NASCAR officials will adjust schedules to bring three racing series to the Las Vegas track in both the spring and fall, the only venue in the United States to have weekend triple-headers of the three national divisions in both appearances.

The fall race will also be among the final 10 races of the season, a playoff series known to fans as “The Chase for the Cup.”

The three series divisions include the Camping World Truck Series, featuring modified pickup trucks; the Xfinity Series, the second highest level of competition; and the Monster Energy NASCAR Series, the highest competitive level.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith said the fall weekend in Las Vegas would involve moving existing Truck Series and Monster Energy Cup Series races from New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire, and an Xfinity Series race currently staged at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky, in late September to Las Vegas.

Smith said it’s likely the truck race would be Friday, the Xfinity Series race Saturday and the Monster Energy race Sunday, both in the spring and fall.

Las Vegas’ current Truck Series race at the end of September would be rescheduled to spring to join the existing Xfinity and Monster Cup races already on the calendar.

No dates have been announced, but Smith said they would as soon as the 2018 schedule is finalized. He said he anticipates the new races to be in the mid- to late September timeframe.

Chris Powell, president and general manager of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said the announcement of the second NASCAR race is a testament to how sports entertainment is driving more and more special events visitation and notice that Las Vegas is a thriving sports environment.

“What a city we live in,” Powell said. “The NHL is here. The NFL wants to be here. The two most recent (baseball) National League Most Valuable Players, Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant, hail from Las Vegas. Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch are from here, Kurt just won the Daytona 500 and both of them have won NASCAR premier series championships … We’ve got four college basketball tournaments in town this weekend alone. And now, a second NASCAR premier series event each year.”

DEEP ECONOMIC IMPACT

For the LVCVA board, agreeing to the deal was a no-brainer because of the economic impact NASCAR races have become. While nationwide NASCAR attendance has dwindled over the past six years, attendance for the current Las Vegas race, usually run in March, has kept steady or grown.

In 2016, the Las Vegas cup race, known as the Kobalt 400, drew 114,000 people to the track, in what annually is the largest sporting event in the state. Of those fans, 96,400 were out-of-town visitors that spent $82 million directly, resulting in an economic impact of $139 million, according to LVCVA statistics.

The race also was seen by 7.2 million television viewers resulting in $5 million in media value to the city.

This year’s edition of the race is Sunday.

In addition to the Busch brothers, racers Brendan Gaughan, Noah Gragson and Spencer Gallagher appeared and spoke briefly at Wednesday’s press conference.

Track and LVCVA executives signed the contract document on the hood of Kyle Busch’s No. 18 M&Ms-sponsored car, which was parked inside the Cashman Center convention hall where the press conference was staged.

Cathy Tull, the LVCVA’s senior vice president of marketing, said after the meeting that executives would meet over the next few months to determine how best to spend the money dedicated in the new contract.

Events normally are advertised at tracks prior to upcoming races. Marketers also will have to determine if and how to approach the sensitive matter of marketing at New Hampshire after that track lost its events to Las Vegas.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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