As a former NASCAR race broadcaster, I did the Darlington races for a dozen years "back in the day", I am delighted to see NASCAR coming to Kentucky, but let's hold off on all those rosy projections of its economic impact; as in the Guv's prediction the races will bring in $150 million to the state.
First, as usual, most news media members swallowed this whole. No questions like "where did you get that figure, governor? How did you arrive at $150 million? Or was that $105 and a typo got into the news release?" Might as well have been.
Economic projections, especially these days, have a nice ring (as in cash register ring). We just don’t want any more bad news. And, as most public officials know, it is very seldom they are called to account for their optimism. Indeed, the media almost never goes back and does any follow up stories to see just how things turned out.
(This may change in Lexington if, as I fear, we are going to be way off our WEG projections, but I am not holding my breath; except for the Herald-Leader, which has a remarkable record of doing more with less these past few years.)
And it was the paper's sports guy, Mark Story who raised the only questions I've seen. While the paper's straight news report said the guv hung the $150 million price tag on what the event might mean to Northern Ky., Story's Q&A quoted the guv as saying "speedway officials" made that projection. The guv may be hung with it, though if he repeats it on the campaign trail; as , if I were a betting man, I would bet he will.
But Story pointed out a recent study in Atlanta, a much bigger metro area, showed a $75 million impact on the long established track there.
Let the racers come, and race safely; let the crowds come, and spend; let the jobs come, and stay, and let the media do its job, by doing a proper follow-up report after the inaugural races are held.
And thank you, Jerry Carroll, (the guy who started all this), and whose vision has resulted in the NASCAR announcement; and who plodded doggedly on after the PTB (powers-that-be) at NASCAR screwed Carroll and Kentucky for years; fighting the track in many ways. Let's not forget that as we welcome the descendants of those Carolina moonshine runners to our Commonwealth. It will work; just not $150 million’s worth.
I’m Just Sayin’….