For many years, Loudon, New Hampshire’s own New Hampshire Motor Speedway has played host to two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races each year, which are always the speedway’s biggest crowd-drawing events.
However, it was announced by NASCAR earlier this year that changes were on the way for their 2018 season schedule, one of which unfortunately involved New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The track will be losing its September NASCAR race in 2018, having its normal weekend slot on NASCAR’s schedule replaced by a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
This now leaves New Hampshire Motor Speedway with only one NASCAR race weekend per year instead of two, with just their annual 301-mile race in July remaining.
The final September NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway took place three weekends ago, and thousands of fans arrived to show their support and cheer on the drivers.
One person who was particularly excited about the weekend was New Hampshire Motor Speedway General Manager David McGrath, who could be seen walking around and conversing with fans all weekend long.
When asked, McGrath had a lot to say about the speedway’s situation.
“It’s bittersweet, and I’m sad to see this race move on to Las Vegas,” he began.
But McGrath was also able to look at the situation from a business perspective.
“I understand that business decisions need to be made, and I completely support the company’s decision on that,” he said.
While most people would have preferred not losing the September NASCAR race, McGrath still tried to express a positive outlook on the future, discussing the speedway’s plans for 2018.
“What we announced on Friday was a new weekend [race] that we’re creating for September of next year,” McGrath revealed.
“It will be the largest modified race, 250-lap Whelen Modified race, the longest in the tour’s history.”
McGrath also announced that in the same weekend, there would be other racing series’ visiting the track, including the K&N Pro Series East Tour and “Pinty’s Series,” a Canadian truck racing league.
With all the talk of New Hampshire Motor Speedway losing one of its two NASCAR races, a lot of people were left searching for explanations as to why the decision was made.
Not only did McGrath have the answer to these questions, but so did New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s Pit Road Supervisor, Frank Brundle, as well as NASCAR First Responder Ron Carpenter, each giving different answers and perspectives.
“Look, I won’t hide behind it, we’ve been very upfront about this,” McGrath admitted.
“Las Vegas [Motor Speedway] came at our company with a very serious amount of money to bring that race to their city.
It is not something our company felt we could just not react to,” he explained.
Frank Brundle and Ron Carpenter had explanations that were, in some ways, similar to what McGrath explained.
Brundle, who has worked at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for 27 years, said,
“The fact that they [NASCAR] moved it to Las Vegas was a business decision on their part because they feel they’re going to get more bang for their buck.”
Carpenter answered the question rather honestly too, saying, “Fans just aren’t showing up for the races anymore. Usually this is the race everybody goes to.”
Furthermore, this situation may have a direct impact Keene State College specifically. Tamra Gonyea, a first-year member of the women’s basketball team at Keene State, explained why.
For the race weekend, Keene State’s women’s basketball team screened bags at the track’s ticket booths.
“The women’s basketball team here at Keene does it to raise money for our program,” Gonyea explained.
“They’ve been doing it for a few years now. We are most likely going to keep doing it, I don’t know if it’s for a different race or not.”
Quite sadly, the significance of New Hampshire Motor Speedway losing a race goes further beyond what many may think.
Not only will the race track likely be making less money as a result, but local businesses will be making less as well.
Having thousands of NASCAR fans visit the area twice a year is a big opportunity for local businesses to thrive, and they additionally will be losing a big weekend of profit.
Gonyea also said, “I feel like that’s a bad business call because the races tend to bring in tons of money and people generally enjoy them.”
Thankfully though, the weekend of prosperity, profit and play will not be completely lost next year with the speedway adding the Whelen Modified race weekend to their event list for the year.
So, for us locals and for us race fans, we can only hope that next year’s big September race weekend will live up to its full potential and possibly even rival the attendance rates that are brought in by NASCAR races.
Matt Holderman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org