Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage wanted to be as respectful as possible, but couldn’t help but rip the Circuit of the Americas race track in Austin for believing it could land a NASCAR race one day.
“I don’t blame them for wanting NASCAR races, it’s just that they’re 20 years too late,” Gossage said Monday. “I don’t think they know the business, or they wouldn’t be saying such things.”
This subject became a story after Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein told the Austin American-Statesman on Friday that his track has had contact with “NASCAR officials” and that “everyone seems to want to be here, so I see no reason why it couldn’t come together.”
Representatives from Circuit of the Americas and NASCAR did not respond to requests for comment.
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Gossage chuckled at the idea, although admitted it’s along the lines of something he’d say to generate publicity and interest for his track. But NASCAR hasn’t discussed the idea of adding a road race in Austin with officials from TMS or its parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Anyone can talk to a NASCAR official. … That doesn’t mean a thing. We’re all bound by contracts.
TMS President Eddie Gossage
“Anyone can talk to a NASCAR official,” Gossage said. “What NASCAR official? What’d they say? That doesn’t mean a thing. We’re all bound by contracts.”
TMS and NASCAR are entering the second year of a five-year deal, and Gossage said that the track is “protected contractually” from NASCAR adding an additional race within the region.
TMS has been a staple on the NASCAR circuit since it opened in 1997, and it has put in resources to stay among the top tracks. In recent years, it has added a giant video screen and will have a repaved track with reconfigured turns this season.
“We have 20 years of history with NASCAR, there’s a long history there and our company is one of the biggest clients in the world for NASCAR,” Gossage said. “This story doesn’t concern us.”
Gossage said he did not think COTA ingratiated itself to NASCAR too well by bringing up this story during the sport’s biggest week, the Daytona 500, when the attention should have been on that event.
“I don’t want to slam them at all. I’m sure they’re great folks,” Gossage said. “When I saw it, I just laughed at it because it’s something I would do. You got all this attention on the Daytona 500, so ‘Hey, we’re trying to bring NASCAR to town.’ Get some publicity on the Daytona 500 coattails.
“But we’re old pros. This is my 38th season in major-league racing. Both TMS and [Speedway Motorsports Inc.] have a tremendous amount of knowledge and talent and ability. They are trying to find their way in a really complicated and nuanced business. It’s all a new challenge for them.”
5 Circuit of the Americas is going into its fifth year after opening in October 2012
At the end of the day, though, NASCAR itself is trying to stay relevant. The top racing circuit is exploring new options and changes to attract more fans, and having more road courses isn’t far-fetched.
NASCAR has two road courses on the schedule in Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen, N.Y. Austin would make sense to bring on, to a certain extent, but it’s hard to envision that happening with TMS a few hours away.
“It’s a nice race track, but we’re the place that you’ve got to come to see NASCAR, see IndyCar, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” Gossage said.