If NASCAR decides to move the annual All-Star Race from the Charlotte area, Texas Motor Speedway would get money to offer a hefty financial incentive under legislature passed Thursday night, the Associated Press and Austin-American Statesman reported.
The bill would let the Fort Worth, Texas track use potentially tens of millions of dollars from the state’s Major Events Reimbursement Program to pursue the All-Star Race, now held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and NASCAR’s three season-ending races, which have been held at Homestead-Miami Speedway since 2002.
The Major Events Reimbursement Program draws money from state and local sales taxes, auto rentals, and hotel and alcohol sales taxes generated by the events it supports. The Circuit of the Americas racetrack used the fund to bring Formula One’s United States Grand Prix to Austin, Texas. It’s also been used to help attract the Super Bowl and NCAA Tournament Final Four.
Never miss a local story.
The Texas bill, which still needs Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature to become law, would make the two NASCAR races eligible for the money from the fund.
The bill gives Texas Motor Speedway “a tool in their tool box to be aggressive when competing with other venues," said Rep. Tan Parker, a Republican whose district includes the track.
NASCAR’s All-Star Race has taken place at Charlotte Motor Speedway every season but one – Atlanta hosted it in 1986 – since it began 25 years ago. It’s locked into the track in Concord for 2018.
Those who want to keep the All-Star Race in Charlotte for 2019 and beyond likely would draw strong support from the racing community itself. The Charlotte area is home to dozens of the sports’ drivers, teams and organizations, as well as the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
For these drivers and teams, the two-week stretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 is a chance to spend time “at home” during the long NASCAR season.
Still, at least one driver already has said he’d like to see the annual All-Star Race circulate among the NASCAR tracks, much like Major League Baseball and the NBA. Just Wednesday in fact, Charlotte learned it would host the NBA All-Star Game in 2019.
After finishing second in last week’s All-Star Race, Kyle Larson said he backed rotating the annual event among NASCAR tracks.
“I think you look at other sports and their all-star games switch venues all the time,” said Larson. “It’s the same game, so it doesn’t really make a difference other than the venue, but for us I think it’s really cool to change the venue.”
Larson, a Californian who sits on top of the Cup Series’ points standings, further said he likes the idea of moving NASCAR’s season finale from South Florida.
Bidding on both events “... would open up different venues and places to come see a big event,” Larson said.
Follow Mike Reader on Twitter.