(07/02/2002)
A new Braxton County project at Flatwoods could bring NASCAR racing to West Virginia.

From the Charleston Daily-Mail

Racetrack In The Works For Flatwoods Project Has Support Of Some Racing Sanctioning Groups

Sam Tranum
Daily Mail Capitol reporter

Monday July 1

A team of developers today announced their plans to build a $27 million "integrated motor sports complex" on 300 acres in Flatwoods.

"This appears to be a very professional and comprehensive program for bringing a major league motorsports entertainment destination to West Virginia," said Eric Denemark, director of the West Virginia Motorsports Council.

The complex would include a half-mile asphalt oval, a one and one-half mile asphalt road course, an eighth of a mile drag strip, a fifth of a mile go-kart track, 10,000 grandstand seats, sky boxes and on-site camping.

It was unclear this morning what the proposed schedule for construction is. Developers also did not reveal specific information about how they would pay for the track.

Developer Joe Mattioli said in a statement released today that the program at the Flatwoods track -- to be known as Thunder Ridge -- would be similar to the program at Virginia's South Boston Speedway.

Mattioli said in his statement that he has received letters of interest from the sanctioning bodies of several national touring events, including the Automobile Racing Club of America, the American Speed Association, United Speed Alliance Racing and United States Auto Club.

The statement said other groups including NASCAR, were "aware" of the proposed track at Flatwoods.

The developers expect the track, just off Interstate 79, to draw fans from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia. It would be within 100 miles of 2.2 million people and within 250 miles of 37.3 million people, they said.

The Braxton County Commission supports the track, according to the developers.

"The potential economic impact of this project, both to the country and the state is tremendous," Commission President John Gibson was quoted as saying. "We understand the implications of motorsports on local economies and are solidly behind the initiative."

The Braxton County Development Authority plans to create an industrial park near Thunder Ridge that could house motor sports-related businesses, according to the developers' statement.

The track also has support of Winston Cup driver Bobby Allison, the developers said. Thunder Ridge is the second of two half-mile tracks in development in West Virginia.

The Kanawha County Commission has endorsed plans for a $20.5 million asphalt oval near Riverside High School in Quincy. The track would seat 15,000 people and provide space for NASCAR series events, outdoor concerts and a family area.

The Quincy track would largely be privately funded. The developers have asked the West Virginia Economic Development Grant Committee for $7.7 million. A full season of about 35 events is planned for 2004.

Another proposal has been floated by Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson. He said in April he'd like to build a "Dale Earnhardt Speedway" in Inwood.


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