Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stalled by Speedway Traffic

If you’re thinking about going to next year’s NASCAR race at the Kentucky Speedway, then you ought to be leaving right about now. That’s the lesson I learned yesterday as I crawled in traffic for more than four hours.

Sure, the racing was good for the inaugural race at Kentucky … at least for the half I saw. The track looked great, too.

But getting there was a nightmare.

I know for an event like this that you better leave early and expect to park far away and walk a lot. But Kentucky Speedway obviously has problems other tracks don’t. For starters, it simply doesn’t have enough roads or parking lots. That problem won’t be solved overnight, but other problems can be fixed through better management.

Having been to many of these races all across the country, here are a few of the random thoughts that occurred to me between four-wheeling through gullies and dodging wayward canines … and a lot of waiting.

· Lack of direction. I never saw anyone directing traffic anywhere until I was almost directly upon the track. By then, it was too little, too late. Far before that, people began fending for themselves, leading to absolute confusion and chaos. To restore order, there should have been people along the route providing critical information, such as distance remaining to the track, lots, etc.

· Looking for a sign.
There was a lack of signs both inside and outside the track, making everything from finding a parking lot to finding your seat absolute guesswork. If I were track owner Bruton Smith, I would name the grandstands something other than “5C” and have them marked with big signs, like other venues.

· Capitalism in the countryside. One of the most frustrating things about getting to the track is there seemed to be fields everywhere suitable for parking, but unoccupied. For every track I’ve visited, “unsanctioned” lots are as important as the sanctioned ones. I’ve parked at churches, elementary schools, golf ranges and many front yards. Maybe the speedway’s neighbors didn’t realize how willing and how much people would pay to park in proximity to the track. To paraphrase President Reagan – the king of capitalism – “Mr. Landowner, Open up Those Fields!”

· There’s bound to be another way.
Actually, there is. Lanes coming from the speedway were deserted. They should have been converted to one way before and after the race, like they do in Darlington. Some people did this anyway, driving the wrong way in the emergency lanes. I’m far too law-abiding for that, even though the likelihood of getting caught would have been nil (see my first point).

I will tip my hat, however, to the many shuttles to and from the track. If not for them, I wouldn’t have seen any of the race. And I did see enough to know that Kyle Busch won. He negotiated the traffic far better than I could.

No comments: