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State Wants to Be Economic Pit Crew Helping Race Industry Roll

Posted June 12, 2007

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— They say race fans are the most loyal of any sports supporters, and North Carolina is making a big play to promote motor sports and the money it brings in statewide.

When the racetrack announcer says, “Gentlemen, start your engines” and fans hear the roar of motors, economic boosters in state government hear coins clinking and cash crinkling.

Promoting and supporting motor sports is taking the checkered flag in the Tar Heel state, and you don’t have to go to the track to see it. It’s right in downtown Raleigh.

At the state tourism office, they make no secret about it. Word of NASCAR is every where. Brochures cover the wall, advertising everything from The Dale Trail to The Richard Petty Museum.

Helping to make all that bigger and better — and more profitable — is Derek Chen's job. He is the state’s director of motor sports development, recently added to the staff at the state Department of Commerce.

“There are 27,000 people that are employed by the motor sports industry in North Carolina, direct and indirect, and the average salary is about $60,000,” Chen said.

His job, Chen said, is to “basically help grow and support this $6 billion industry.” The state is also working on special tax incentives for motor-sports-related companies.

The state just landed the NASCAR museum, under construction near Charlotte. Fans jam the stands at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord. New businesses that pay taxes and pay workers are popping up statewide.

North Carolina's ramp up in motor sports promotion goes all the way to the top. Gov. Mike Easley talked it up in a recent interview.

“Motor sports and NASCAR, that's something we do very well here in North Carolina, and we ought to be investing in it and expanding on it — and I think the sky is the limit. We could double what we're doing now,” Easley said.

14 Comments

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  • Harvey Jun 14, 2007

    chronowang is most correct! NASCAR is NOT about motor sports, it's about $$$money$$$. Talk to a NASCAR fan long enough and you'll see why a car going around in circles all day keeps them entertained. I enjoy the occasional NASCAR event, but after about 2 or 3 of them... they are all the same! And did you read the posts in the Dale Jr. thread? NASCAR fans give racing a bad name.

    I am tired of the state throwing my tax dollars at this without putting it into other motor sports too. Bring a Champcar race here. The NC Fairgrounds has the perfect layout or a great track, parking, and is centrally located. What about VIR? While not in NC, much more promotion could be done here to help racing there. There has to be some benefit to it for us.

  • Joe Jun 13, 2007

    It's grammar time again:

    "At the state tourism office, they make no secret about it. Word of NASCAR is every where."

    When did everywhere become two words?

  • BigUNCFan Jun 13, 2007

    We should spend this money instead on teaching our kids to compete in the 21st century economy and learning technical skills so they can compete with the Indians and the Chinese. The Indians and Chinese are working and don't even know what NASCAR is but they sure know how to beat us in the global economy while we watch cars roll around a track.

    I am not against entertainment as we all need a break every now and then and car racing is fun. But it is just that, fun. It is not smart when our leaders take what is entertainment and use is as a cornerstone of economic policy. That is a joke.

    Even though some of these tax breaks for businesses kind are over the top, at least the ones that have high paying skill jobs that can be transferable are valuable.

    You may learn some stuff in the racing industry but if you move to California and need a job, there may not be one you could get comparable like if you worked at a computer or biotech firm here and moved to another state.

  • iwondersometimes Jun 13, 2007

    These comments are right on about NASCAR. They are greedy and depend on your taxes to support their sport...they just do it behind the scenes where you don't know it. For instance, as For the US said, all those troopers you see working all the races in Charlotte are being paid by you. Other sports venues have to pay out of their pocket for this traffic control, but not NASCAR. North Carolina is where they are always...too little, too late. NASCAR has abandoned NC so we as taxpayers should ignore NASCAR and let them pay their way. No tax money should ever be spent for them, we don't do it for other businesses except for the awful deals like Dell, etc.

  • chronowang Jun 13, 2007

    Here's another one......why just NASCAR? Motorsports is not just about NASCAR. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all forms of motorsport (except funnycar.....I still think it's a competition to see who can crash at a higher speed), I would like to see maybe some CART or Formula or even GT racing being promoted, hell even Rally would be nice....

  • likemenow Jun 13, 2007

    RE:"Why are the taxpayers funding a position to promote any kind of racing"..Amen

  • lucky22 Jun 13, 2007

    I to am a racing fan, I hate that NASCAR has forgotten where they came from. Take North Wilkesboro and NC Motor Speedway for example, NASCAR left those tracks in the dust and God knows those town's depended on the revenue that races brought in. They were easy to travel to. NASCAR has gotten a big head and I really hope they take a good look and don't ever forget where they came from. You don't race in Daytona in Feb. and then expect to have the same kind of weather in NC the next week. I think they should have flipped the schedule and kept the aforementioned tracks.

  • CestLaVie Jun 13, 2007

    Amen to all the previous comments here. My husband & I had permanent seats at Rockingham in the 90's - loved going to the 2 annual races. But no more!! NASCAR has moved on to bigger & greedier venues, but good ole' NC hasn't seemed to notice. Why do this now? Prior to 2000 would have made more sense, but not now, let alone the fact that as tbajr stated: why is NC supporting this at all to begin with? I guess it's because of Easley's racing interest - now that's certainly a motivator!!

  • tbajr Jun 13, 2007

    Let racing handle their promotions. Why are the taxpayers
    funding a position to promote any kind of racing. Yes we need
    more corporations and activities to give tax breaks to, we just
    go to that well of taxpayer monies and siphon out more. We
    need to get government back under control, the only rights we
    have is what they give us.

  • ladyblue Jun 12, 2007

    You've all hit the nail on the head. NC as most states are sucking up when it comes to giving breaks on taxes and etc to locate here. Sad part of it so many pull up as soon as the breaks are over.

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