Something’s Rotten In Kansas

by John Chapman on February 25, 2010 · 24 comments

This has become a very hot topic every since the announcement that the State of Kansas, ( I thought the state of Kansas was pretty well summed up The Wizard Of Oz) had approved a casino license for a casino to build adjacent to the Speedway.The hot question being asked and written about is where will the date come from?

This started me thinking, is this the question we should be asking as fans? Does NASCAR feel that the core product, i.e., racing, will be improved by having a second race at Kansas versus, say, Martinsville, or California? If the race comes from California, then I’d have to say that the racing would be improved, but that’s NOT the reason for the move.

The reason is that NASCAR can deliver a large number of fans, twice a year as potential customers for the casino. The sole purpose of any casino is to separate people from their money. So far, the relationship of NASCAR and the casino seems pretty symbiotic.

My question is, is that as it should be?

Bruton Smith, SMI President, is famous for threatening locations who don’t give him what he wants. In his case, usually infrastructure improvements or drag strips. If the casino deal works out well, could we see NASCAR doing the same thing, punishing, or rewarding locations over casinos?

NASCAR, from it’s founding and it’s founder, has been 100% rock ribbed Republican. It has espoused family values, refusing to race on Mother’s Day, (until it became expedient to do so,) patriotism, and the Republican Party, relentlessly.

I’m all for family values. After all, I have a mother and a family. I’m a veteran, so I have no problem with that part. I am, however, out of step with the GOP part of the deal, but I only mention this in fairness.

Again, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not opposed to casino’s. In fact my wife and I  usually spend an average of 3 days a week in them. My wife’s a slot player, and a very successful one, I might add. I spend my time in the poker room.

It’s just that feeding fans to the Casino seems to be a contradiction to the family values that NASCAR is fond of touting. I understand that no one is forcing anyone to enter this establishment, it just seems a little strange that’s all.

I’ve always heard that "politics makes strange bedfellows." So does money, I guess. NASCAR has always been steadfast against gambling on our sport. I’m in total agreement on this.It just seems to me like rushing to give Kansas a second date, to feed the casino could be the first step on a slippery slope.

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Four Wide: Vegas, baby. Vegas.
February 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm


1 jimmccoy22 February 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I may be all those things that NASCAR wants to appeal to, right down to, for the sake of disclosure, being a Republican. I’m not exactly a prude- there’s a Texas Hold ‘Em game near where I live I am a regular at.
That said- I think you express well my feelings about this casino adjacent to the NASCAR track at Kansas. To me, it just looks like hokey cross- promotion. At the height of NASCAR’s popularity, they didn’t need this kind of stuff to get people to the truck. OMG! I’m turning into a curmudgeon! Just keepin’ it real.

2 The Mad Man February 26, 2010 at 5:36 am

Nothing wrong with being a curmudgeon Jim. Welcome to the club. I’ve been a proud member since shortly after teaching Fred Flintstone how to cook a brontoburger.

This whole thing with Kansas has been politics within the France family to start with. If not for the fact the Lesa France Kennedy was living in Kansas at the time, there probably wouldn’t even be a track there. And the only reason they’ll have a second date is it was part of the licensing deal for the casino.

It’ll end up being like Damnica, the Camry of Today, and the cookie cutter tracks. Once the “new” is gone, folks won’t bother showing up.

3 edward February 26, 2010 at 5:46 am

Im in Kansas (military). Have been to Kansas city motor speedway and it’s a great facility. I think a casino would be great for kansas and all who reside here. California produces a boring race and should lose one date. Even if a casino where there, it still wouldn’t draw fans..

4 bob February 26, 2010 at 5:53 am

3 days a WEEK in a casino? That’s alot of time gambling, John. Your wife’s been lucky at the slots but that all evens out. This is a non-story that interests you simply because you are a gambler. Don’t you think this casino can stand on it’s own legs the other 355 days a year that NASCAR isn’t there? By your own accounts, if you lived near this you would visit this track 156 days a year! A few compulsive gamblers like yourself and that casino has got nothing to worry about.

5 dawg February 26, 2010 at 6:34 am

@ Bob
Guilty as charged on the gambling, what can I say? I love poker. It’s as much a social activity as anything. If I were smart, I’d have my wife teach me how she plays slots. She’s pretty consistent, & has the 1099s to prove it. In fact I’m playing today. Followed by a concert at the Hardrock by Eric Burdon, & the Animals tonight. Life’s rough down here on the Gulf Coast. If I lived here full time though I’d have to back off.
As for the Casino at Kansas, I don’t know how it will fare. There are 4 others in that market already. I prefer the Ameristar, (old Station) but that’s just me.
That’s not, however the point of my article.

@ Edward
I’m not knocking the Speedway, or the Casino.
Just NASCAR’s criteria for moving the date.
Glad you enjoy the facility, maybe I’ll run into you there sometime.

6 Ken February 26, 2010 at 6:39 am

Determining the location of a race based on alternative activities like a casino is not a good sign for NASCAR. It is telling us that the racing is not good enough to stand on its own. I guess he next move is to make the race a sideshow to an amusement park to keep the fans from being bored.

7 John February 26, 2010 at 6:44 am

You go to a casino 3 days a week ?
I haven’t been to a casino 3 times in my lifetime.
Dude, you seriously should go to a meeting or something because you may have a problem.

8 janine February 26, 2010 at 6:59 am

What does racing and gambling have to do with each other? I don’t get it. If I want to gamble I go to a casino. If I want to go to a race, I go to a race track. I don’t go to a race to gamble and I don’t go to a casino to see a race. I don’t think Kansas should get a second date.

9 Joe from Pittsburgh February 26, 2010 at 7:18 am

I used to go to Dover every year and I can say that I have never even stepped foot in Dover Downs Casino. My point is that of Janine’s—I go to a track for the race (what little they offer of THAT nowaday) and I must say I am not a big gambler and havent ever been to any Casino. And by gosh if I could walk past the shiny doors of Dover Downs to go to the souveneir tents and not enter,I doubt I would go just to gamble. But I guess that’s just me. But really,why does having a Casino mean anything for racing or a 2nd date or even a first date?—oh right,politics. Na$car continues selling its soul and will get its due for it someday.

10 dawg February 26, 2010 at 7:21 am

@ John
Good for you. I see many people in casinos who shouldn’t be there.
As for the meeting, very good advise. I’m going to take it. My meeting should start in about 2 hours.

@ Ken Exactly!

@ janine
About the second date. California was doing OK, with one date. We see what there doing with two now.
I would much rather see a race in Iowa. They have some seriously dedicated fans. Two tracks that sell out once a year, is not a bad thing.

11 The Mad Man February 26, 2010 at 7:35 am

Edward, thanks for serving our country.

12 Kevin February 26, 2010 at 9:08 am

Casinos prey on a sad characteristic of many Americans: Greed. I went to a casino just once, to see what it was like. I decided I would spend $5, which I used in a slot machine. After going through my $5, I had won $3.75 back, so I took that money and quit before I got any farther behind. While I was there, I saw quite a few people who looked like they practically lived there…a very sad sight indeed. Casinos exist to take your money and waste your time, and serve no useful purpose. (Yes, they are highly profitable, but at whose expense? It’s not worth the gamble.)

It’s bad enough that California has two dates just based on its location, but a track should never get a second date because of something like a casino that has absolutely nothing to do with the race track itself! Give dates back to Darlington, Rockingham, and North Wilkesboro, or other good tracks like Iowa. Don’t give them to a track because it has a casino.

13 Carol February 26, 2010 at 11:24 am

I whole-heartedly agree with all of your comment, Kevin. I’ve been to 2 casinos, once to see what one was like, and the other b/c my (ex)boyfriend wanted to play poker. He basically ended up losing all the money he put in (and to play poker that can be a lot) and it made me see the ridiculosity that is gambling… Not much better than playing the lottery, i.e. the tax on the mathematically challenged.
I also would love to see a second race at Darlington or go back to Rockingham, but I may be biased being from SC. :)

14 leonard February 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

I went to a slots only place twice.I was down over 100 dollars and left went back two days later lost 55 more then won over two hundred and lost down to be 70 dollars up and got up cashed in and left.. never will ever return its not my idea of fun..just had to try it.Do you realize you are playing against a computer ?I consider myself lucky to get away.Racing is more fun and I do not buy tee-shirts ..the wife says two hundred is enough tee shirts and 140 hats is a few too many.The races I would like to see is in April,run the schedule to have Bristol,Martinsville,North Wilkesboro, and Richmond.Keep the teams near home and save on travel expenses and have some home life for once.

15 Jerm February 26, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I am about to take some serious heat over what I am about to say, but to hell with it. Kansas is a track that should have never been added to the schedule, let alone given a second date simply because a casino is going to be built there. We just approved the construction of casinos in all major cities here in Ohio, and though I am not a gambler, I believe people have the right to patronize these establishments if they want. Free-thinking adults are just that, and who be any of us to judge what we do with our spare time. However, NASCAR adding a second race to an already lack-luster venue to cross-feed each other via casino is surly a business move, and a poor one for the true race fan who secretly knows racing here blows monkeys, but will attend because they are so isolated from other big tracks. I say gamble away if you choose to do so, but pairing it with NASCAR is causing Big Bill to turn in his grave and fart ghost dust.

16 Ray Miller February 26, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I was founding father ticket buyer at KS in 2002.
Sold out with good waiting list.
Now,lots of tickets for sale with sections soon to be closed.
A 2nd race is a farce. Does France have a piece of the casino?
Ray Miller Lenexa KS

17 gopapa February 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Doesn’t it make sense to anyone else that if California is going to loose a race, then that race could or should go to a venue that does not yet even have ONE race date?? Does anyone agree with me?

18 mkrcr February 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm

In my opinion, there’s only one reason for a racetrack and a casino to be together. It’s called kickbacks. This, like all of NA$CAR, is all about the money. And it’s a good marriage. Both casinos and NA$CAR give you way less back for what you put in.

19 jimmccoy22 February 26, 2010 at 6:08 pm

@gopapa. I’m with you. Give it to Iowa, I say.

20 baggs February 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I don’t see why they need to build a casino next to the Kansas speedway. I think there is another track (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) that could use a second date and it has a lot more casinos already built. Not to mention it sells about 140,000 tickets at its lone race and I would expect about the same at a second race. That’s 280,000 tickets over two races. Kansas speedway has 80,000 seats and they claim 100,000 tickets for last years race. So even if they could sell 100,000 tickets at two races that is still 80,000 less than Vegas. For me it makes more sense to leave the gambling in Vegas. But LVMS is not owned by ISC. We must remember nepotism is always best.

21 keith February 27, 2010 at 9:20 am

Jim your article’s title is correct about one thing what is rotten is a 1.5 mile piece of asphalt called the Kansas speedway. This is what is going to hurt Nascar/ISC/SMI in the long run spending money on things that is not the core product or its infastructure. Look at Daytona for example they spent millions on a Bistro in the infield and a 4 story eyesore highrise building to block the view of the track from the grandstands the Daytona 500 club and forgot about the reason 200,000 fans show up the race track and ignored the racing surface. Now you have a bad racetrack design getting a casino that will most likely cost as much as the race track being built and the racing will still suck.

22 gopapa February 27, 2010 at 11:03 am

@jimmccoy22 – That’s what I’m talking about about!

Fans have complained for years about all the cookie cutters on the schedule. So why add yet another one to the schedule when there are options such as Iowa?

It could be a great Cup/Nationwide/Camping World Series Triple Header weekend for a true race fan.

23 FCH February 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm

The reason Nascar wants another race next to this casino is because the casino is owned by Penn National Gaming and the owners of the Kansas Speedway, which is Nascar. Follow the money and discover the rot.

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